Brett Allen Smith, Director/Writer: NEVER
1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of NEVER, from concept to financing.
I think NEVER represents the culmination of my joys, fears, and questions about what it means to be a twenty-something of this generation. It was something I wrote when I wasn’t really sure who I was, or if I was making the right kind of progress personally or creatively. Or if I even liked the kind of people I suspected we were all turning into. So I put all those concerns into a script, and from there started sharing it with friends and connecting with people who were asking the same questions I was. Everyone who worked on the film – from the actors, to the crew, to the people who helped finance – worked on it either for free or for next to nothing, because I suspect we all wanted to see if anyone out there felt the same way we did.
2Q: Cinequest is hosting the World Premiere of NEVER. Explain to us how it feels to bring this film before audiences for the first time, and what do you think their reaction will be to your film?
It’s equal parts exciting and totally gut-wrenching to share your film with the world, especially the first time. It’s your baby, and like all children it doesn’t matter what your intentions with it were or which mistakes you made or avoided – because once it’s out in the world, it has to speak for itself. Make its own mistakes. Finds its own allies. NEVER is incredibly personal to me, but it also captures a time of my life that in some ways feels distant to me now. Every time I watch it I have a new opinion about it. It evolves with me as I get older. I think that’s the best reaction I could hope from an audience: for them to remember that time in their lives, or relate to it now, and from there draw their own conclusion about how those experiences will shape them into men and women.
3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making NEVER?
One of the best experiences about NEVER was the casting process. My casting director (the amazing Lindsey Weissmueller) and I met with a lot of actors who really connected with the characters, and hearing their opinions and excitement made me believe in my own script all over again. Flying to New York to meet with Zach Booth, and then sitting down with Zelda Williams in LA… Those were two of the most exciting days I’ve ever had.
4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?
There are a lot of things I could mention here – the endearing performances from Zach and Zelda, the ambiguities and questions about young adult life – but in some ways I think the haunting original music (written by the disturbingly talented Nora Kirkpatrick) captures all those strengths at once. Nora wrote the songs Zelda’s character performs throughout the film, and they feel almost like another character in the film. Maybe even the heart of the film. Those songs make me remember why I made NEVER.
5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won an Oscar for NEVER. Give us your acceptance speech.
As long as I mention my mom – who personally catered the entire 24-day shoot in Seattle for all 18 members of the cast and crew – I think I’m safe. Maybe the more daunting question is: what the hell am I supposed to wear?!