SolPix Interviews
   An Interview with Don Thompson
   by Mike Neff

Thompson: About the impossibility of endless progress. That the notion of progress eventually turns on itself. That science eventually turns on itself. That the creative impulse of this country, because of the limits of geography, because of the inherent limitations of language, turns on itself and becomes self destructive.

Neff: Interesting... makes me think back to the pier... the symbol of the pier in the film.

Thompson: The pier is the limit of a certain kind of progress from which the character must evolve. The end of the road for his limiting viewpoint. He can't go any further. He must let go of language, of science, of preconceptions, and define reality based on something else other than science, art, or technology.

Neff: And what is that definition?

Thompson: Love. So it becomes very simple, like Christ's message: go love one another. That's what the truth comes down to.

Neff: So you're a Christian.

Thompson: Well, I don't know. Christians wouldn't say that love somehow emerges from a nothing, a zero...

Neff: St. John's [the male protagonist's] equation.

Thompson: Yes, he finds his equation brings him to emptiness. But once he finds emptiness, he has a choice. To bring innocence to emptiness, to bring love into it, or to bring anger and hatred, which is Tab's [the antagonist's] resolution because he sees the emptiness as a lack instead of a possibility. Beatrice [the female protagonist] prompts St. John to see the possibility of love in the emptiness, and really takes the activist's stance: that we must act in love despite the emptiness of life that logic and science try to force us to accept as true... the coldness of a mechanical universe that is defined by physical laws... and if we continue on this path of the scientific not counterbalanced by the spiritual... I just call it love... then we destroy ourselves in nihilism and cynicism. Even if there is nothing, we must believe, we must believe fully and with vigor. That belief, even if it's a folly from a certain perspective, is necessary to keep us human.

Neff: But how can we believe if there is nothing at the core of life?

Thompson: Because love is real. Because we, as human beings, have made love, or its opposite, real. We have made love real just as we have made cynicism real. If everything comes out of emptiness, as the Buddhist's say, then everything is up for grabs. Everything is possible. To love completely, to create a perfect universe if you will, or to create a universe defined by our so-called human nature, a nature that is in reality pliable, even though we have become convinced that it isn't pliable.

Neff: It's a rather existential point of view.

Thompson: It is existential in that responsibility arises from human endeavor, from human choice, not from some absolute law or God but from within. It is the naked responsibility of being alone in the universe. Of being without God or mother or father to finally define you. Or institutions, or movies or T.V. or terrorists to define you. For the definition of self to come out of your own individual quest for knowledge.

Neff: Most people don't want to think about life
-- or a movie -- that much... (laughs)

Thompson: Sure. It's just a movie. It's just... life... being an American. A good consumer. To question too deeply maybe means you won't be such a good consumer. That's why I got a reaction. Because they felt it -- the critics. Just like they felt it with Ibsen in his day... where liberals and conservatives alike both hated him because he questioned life beyond their status quo or politically correct labels of meaning. Felt he questioned the whole system, even though he questioned nothing. But many people loved him because they understood his intent, which was good. He cut through labels and got to the core.

All I want to do is to prompt people to feel, for a moment, their own responsibility for the entirety of their life, for their consciousness, and all that means. It is a painful realization, but it leads to love, if you follow it. It leads to the ability to feel again, instead of being numb, instead of mistaking the stimulation of media overload for feeling. To tell people they can have an inner life that's their own, not just one that's manufactured by Hollywood. But you know, I'd love to make a comedy about all these ideas!

Neff: A comedy?

Thompson: "Tibet Does Not Exist" -- my play -- was a comedy... but it was also a play of ideas. Parkey Posey called it "an intellectual action movie" when she read the screenplay adaptation. But when it got its legs as a play, it was very funny. People enjoyed it as a comedy. But finding investors has been a tough one. Difficult.

Neff: Why?

Thompson: I don't know. Maybe because of the politics of Tibet. Maybe because I deal with the issues I mentioned. But I have to say many people -- talented people -- have read the play subsequent to its production and told me they couldn't put it down. It's entertaining, not uncomfortable.

Neff: I hope you succeed in getting it produced.

Thompson: I do too! Maybe I'll just have to produce it as a low budget digital video. Make it cheap, like Linklater with "Tape" and "Waking Life."

Neff: What's next?

Thompson: We continue to produce and co-produce through nextPix -- we've been involved with this great film called "Singing the Bones" -- gone to all kinds of top film festivals like Montreal and Mill Valley, and we're collaborating with top notch directors like Rob Nilsson. And of course I'm also developing my own screenplays. And then there's our partnership with SolPix... a great idea.. I think yours! To find synergies between film and fiction. To help the two worlds network and create great art. It's all fun. I'm very excited.

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