The following questions and answers are excerpted from a conversation that followed the NBR screening of The Killing of Two Lovers.
Can you discuss your inspiration for writing this story?
Robert Machoian: It was really motivated, to some degree, my own life in the sense that I’ve been married for quite a while, and I have children, and coming to this period in life where many friends of ours were starting to separate. And separating while having children. And then some of my male friends in these situations acting very kind of out-of-character as they were beginning to realize that they were losing the every day experiences with their kids. That discussions about parenting they were having suddenly had only to do with weekends, and with packing the lives of their children into weekends. And many of these individuals were and are great fathers. So all of a sudden I was living in this world, and I wanted to explore it, to have a dialog about it. I wrote a short film called The Drift, and after talking with Clayne about it, we knew we should expand it, stretch it into a feature story instead of having it be just a short.
it’s a complexity of character that you rarely see in a script
Clayne, what were your impressions on first read-through? What made you want to play David?
Clayne Crawford: I guess as it relates to being in every scene of the film, I can’t say I was intimidated by that, or concerned about that. It was more a sense of excitement, really, knowing Robert’s style of filmmaking, and that I was going to have moments to allow this character just to be present. It’s just the style in which Robert makes films that really energized me and made me enthusiastic to get to know the character of David, and to understand where he was coming from, and to understand how broken he was… it’s a complexity of character that you rarely see in a script. And then in the next scene, he’s giggling with his children and telling jokes. Just how complex a character David was was really fascinating. That gave me a lot of hope as it related to the success of the story and the film, and especially that opening scene which, albeit jarring, forces the audience to have an immediate opinion of the character, and now they’ve got to sit with that for the next hour and twenty minutes, and how are they going to feel afterward? From a creative standpoint, that was all very interesting to me.
Did you know the kids before the shoot started, Clayne?
CC: One hundred percent. I’ve known most of Robert’s children since they were babies. We were in this small little town– Robert had rented out an artist’s loft (from a friend of his who lived down in Utah), and this loft was part of the century gymnasium that had been abandoned that the artist friend had turned into this beautiful space. And we were all just… there! If we weren’t in our own spaces sleeping, then we were there. So Jonah, for instance (the youngest), he climbed up into [Sepideh Moafi’s] lap right after dinner the day that she came to town, and fell asleep. So, they instinctively knew what was necessary to build a connection. Which was really special, and it’s just something… you know, where there are hotels, and you’re in a big city, and there’s a lot of money, and trailers… you don’t get the opportunities that we had on this film, because, again, we were all eating together and hanging out together all day every day.
The story is many things at once: a family drama, a romance, a thriller, and at times, a horror story. How did you approach the sound design for such a complicated dramatic tone, and as an actor, did that figure into your preparation at all?
RM: Immediately, when we knew we were going to be doing this film, I reached out to Peter [Albrechtsen] to really begin to discuss this exact topic. What I said to him was that we were going to be shooting the film in a way that required the sound design to play a significant role in helping the audience understand David’s mental state, and to get at the chaos of him. Because I felt that if we could, as an audience, understand how challenging life is for him at the moment, and not do it in a dialog scene with his best friend or something like that… and to build it, we would understand the risks that David was taking. There might be a decision that David makes, or that we hope he will not make, and through sound come to understand the chaos in and of itself – not that you would understand it per se – but that you would help the audience get at the essence of what was going on in his head during those challenging moments. So early on Peter and I really discussed it in depth. I discussed it with Clayne as well, and he can speak to that, but I don’t know that even he or I really understood where we’d end up going with the sound until Peter contributed.
CC: I agree, I think that was what was exciting about this approach that we took, the indie approach that we took where it was pretty much just Robert and I kind of in charge of how the film was going to be put together. And to give someone like Peter – who we both felt was extremely talented – a lot of freedom. Sometimes you spend a lot of time and energy just trying to get someone who you’re working with to get to the level that you’re wanting the film to be, and with Peter he showed up on day one and far exceeded what we were expecting. So I agree with Robert– I didn’t expect, and I don’t even know… I don’t think even Peter expected the sound design to play throughout the film as much as it did. And I just feel like it elevated the film in such a way to where we felt David’s state of mind – as Robert mentioned – without him having to articulate it. We felt what he was going through.