Q&A with a Film Director: Wyatt Weymouth

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Wyatt Weymouth. Photo courtesy of the director.

By David R. Wheeler, Editor

In the short film No Movement by local filmmaker Wyatt Weymouth, an alienated youth who gets kicked out of college turns to golf, marijuana, and LSD to pass the time. But in his attempt to escape from reality, his dream turns nightmarish. The filmmaker underwent his own nightmare during the making of the film – getting hit head-on by a drunk driver and waking up to compound fractures to his knee cap, elbow, and femur; multiple blood transfusions; and even experiencing his last rites in case he didn’t survive the accident. But Weymouth overcame his personal tragedy to create a poignant film that speaks to many in his generation and beyond. Weymouth was kind enough to sit down with AliveTampaBay and talk about No Movement.

Can you talk about some of your influences? Who are some of your favorite directors? Is there a director you’d be flattered to be compared to?

I am influenced by everything, but if I had to boil it down to a handful of filmmakers that were influential on No Movement, I would say I draw from Ingmar Bergman’s psychological approach to bleak subject matter where his characters suffer from existential dread, Jean-Luc Godard’s humorous skewering of the bourgeoisie lifestyle, his obsession with cool and detached characters living boring lives, both of their experimental techniques, and then there are hints of other classic filmmakers and contemporary ones like Paul Thomas Anderson and Derek Cianfrance that I really like and drew a lot from. No Movement bears an especially strong thematic and stylistic resemblance to Michelangelo Antonioni’s work, particularly his trilogy about ennui and alienation that starts with L’Avventura, but I had not seen any of his work before shooting the film.

In the film, the main character, Richard, goes on a search for meaning. But the answers he finds are not so clear. As a filmmaker, how important is it for you to avoid teaching lessons, as it were?

He feels neutered by his circumstances and unable to come up with a solution to his problems, but maybe at the end of the film he has a glimmer of how to find one. It is a cliché, but I think a director’s job is to reflect reality, and it is my opinion that there are not many clear answers in real life. I’ve always hated being told what to think by people standing on soapboxes anyways.

The cinematography is pretty amazing in this film. Was it just my imagination, or did I notice a kind of sepia tone throughout the film? When trying to tell the story, how important was the “look” of the film?

Thank you for saying that. There is very little color, but a lot of brown in the movie, so it is kind of like sepia, but there are noticeable amounts of blue and others in there. The walls in the house are brownish/beige and the fake leather couches are brownish/beige, but then there are blue details like the blue floral patterns on the couch pillows or one of the actor’s navy pants. It creates some contrast in the image and helps certain things stand out or blend together instead of having a whole mess of colors and different focal points. The cinematographer, Justin Mullally, and I wanted a monochromatic look for the movie so we started with a very limited color palette and then pulled a lot of the color out in post-production. Brie Denicourt (owner of the Frolic Exchange vintage clothing store in Seminole Heights) also helped make this monochromatic look come together with her costume design. The look of a movie has to be determined by the story, and we were telling a bleak story so we went for something cold and subdued. Though, there are some flourishes of saturation and brightness here and there. It is also a practical choice — on a low-budget we could not afford to repaint walls or drastically change our locations, so I picked a scheme that would occur naturally where we were filming.

The concept of identity is central to the film. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Brian Shields, my co-writer (he also wrote the score for the film), and I have had a lot of discussions about identity and authenticity and not always in relation to this film. I cannot express Brian’s opinion for him but I’ll try to say mine. People in my generation (I’m a millennial) seem to be fixated on identity and authenticity — I read recently that 40 percent of millennials name their car compared to 25 percent of all other age groups. Maybe this need for identity and authenticity is a reaction to the increasingly virtual/consumerist culture that we have come of age in. A lot of young people feel very strongly that they must engage in things only in which they believe. In No Movement, the main character, Richard (played by Kyle Harms), has been struggling with his identity and questioning whether or not he is acting authentically. Screwing up his life may be a form of protest to the identity his father has tried to force on him.

You overcame a lot of personal struggles — including physically devastating accidents — during the making of this film. How would the film be different if you hadn’t gone through these struggles?

It’s hard to say exactly how the film may have been different. Spending as much time as I did in the hospital made me feel helpless and dislocated, and maybe as a result, I grew a strong desire to finish the film, almost in spite of my health. I doubt that the movie would have been as focused on identity had my own identity not been in flux at the time we made it.

A screening of No Movement will be held Sunday in Ybor City. Email NoMovementFilm@gmail.com for details.

David R. Wheeler, the editor of AliveTampaBay, is a journalism professor at The University of Tampa and a freelance writer for outlets such as CNN, The Atlantic, and The New York Times.

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