The Idea of Manhood - Interview with the creator, Serge Kushnier
Written by Amy Cable
Questions Compiled by Okechi Apakama , Amy Cable, Hannah Ehrlich and Kyley Warren
The Idea of Manhood is a thought provoking, 2018 movie, written and directed by Serge Kushnier. This was Kushnier first time creating a piece of his own, coming out from the world of acting and moving behind the camera. The film follows two men, Sandy and Jacob, as they approach their own mid-life crises. The characters face individual obstacles but realise that they can help each other through them.
The film will be screened on February 8th, till the 14th at the Harkins Valley Art Theatre in Tempe, AZ.
We were fortunate enough to get an exclusive interview with Kushnier himself on his thoughts of his piece:
1. Why did you choose to start the story in the middle (after one man had a critical moment and before the other one did)?
That idea came while I was deep into developing the script. Jacob’s failing marriage was always the main thought when I was carving out the story. I knew I wanted the film to take place over the course of just one day and I knew it wanted it to be a dialogue driven film. Knowing Jacob’s story, I wanted to find something completely different for my other character, Sandy. The idea of having Sandy be a perpetual bachelor and Jacob, an unhappily married man, allowed me to find their personal conflicts separately and eventually how the two would intertwine. The idea was to have the characters judge one another and through that eventually see their own shortcomings.
2. Why did you chose to not show the suicide note?
It wasn’t important to me for the audience to see the note but for them to see how it affected Jacob. Sandy’s words mean something more personal to Jacob than they would to an audience member. That’s all that mattered to me. It was also a bit of an homage to the end of Lost in Translation. If you don’t know what I mean, go watch that movie.
3. What is your idea of masculinity and how did that influence the film?
The film is supposed to present a part of being a man that isn’t often portrayed in film. Showing two average men share their feelings and issues with each other freely and organically happens all the time in real life. To be “masculine” has such a negative connotation these days. I talk with my male friends the way Jacob and Sandy do often. We share our thoughts, feelings and our pain with each other. To me that is being a “man”, or more importantly being an adult. I hoped to show that in my film. The title “The Idea of manhood” is really my idea of manhood. Being “masculine or feminine” doesn’t mean much to me.
4. Do you think that it is an important time in society to expose manhood now?
I think representing a truthfulness in what I see it is to be a man is important. Jacob and Sandy are flawed humans but they are genuine people. I wasn’t seeking to expose anything but simply bring a truthfulness to the characters I created.
5. Do you see yourself in either of the leading characters?
I see parts of myself in Sandy. The way he views the world might be a bit darker than my perspective, but there’s a lot of me in that character.
6. Which of the characters to you is the protagonist?
I think the roles swap back a forth. It’s an unconventional story where the audience can make up their own mind of who’s “right or wrong”
7. Do you think that your experience in the industry has influenced your film?
I was primarily an actor most of my life. I think that has definitely shaped my storytelling. I strive to have my dialogue sound as honest and “real” as possible. I hope I achieved that.
8. Why did you chose to portray millennial's in the way you did?
It was never my intention to portray any specific demographic any specific way. I had very similar situations with very similar characters in my life. These three younger people just happened to be the characters I chose to include in my story. I do however have my own issues with how overly connected we are to our devices. This is a real problem in society for me and I’m as guilty as anyone.