Continuing the theme of humans dealing with their emotions and the world around them, Toronto-based filmmaker and long-time Spindle friend Illya Klymkiw is premiering his short film Everyone’s Sad About Something online. I caught up with Illya to dig some shit up on the making of the movie:
Tell us: what is ESAS about?
Everyone’s Sad About Something is about a man suffering in a very insular world. His friends try to cheer him up in very different ways, mostly though distraction. None of this works, and in the end he has to face his emotions in a very special way. It’s also kind of a tribute to Candi Staton, who I love. Nobody can sing about heartache and sadness like Candi!
How did you come up with the idea?
Ha, I was pretty sad! To me it seemed like a natural progression to work out raw emotion in this particular way. The apartment (where my brother and I were living in at the time) was a kind of windowless dungeon of odd emotion. It was a big blank space where every memory was a physical object, strewn about haphazardly. People came in and out of our lives changing the air, for better or for worse. Our doors were often open. The film is kind of an abridged version of that. Condensed and more succinct.
The film mixes your trademark surrealist style with a resonant emotional core; was there anything going on in your life at the time that you specifically put into the project?
There are some clues in the film. Real objects that were left behind, scattered about. Some are more obvious than others, but they’re there. Inside jokes just for me to enjoy, maybe a couple of other people too. There’s one specifically that should stand out, something that doesn’t quite belong in that apartment. See if you can find it!
I know you’re digging for stories and anecdotes about the film, but if I told you it would ruin the magic. The film is a perfect cut-out snippet of how I remember that time.
Did you intentionally set out to make a point about the way people wallow in misery?
There is definitely a lightness to this particular kind of sadness. There’s a certain decadence to it, it’s a beautiful feeling, because there are no real stakes. You can’t trivialize it, everyone’s had it, but it is not very important in the grand scheme of your life. That was my mindset from the beginning. I’ve had many different reactions to the film, some get very serious, and some think it’s a great laugh. They’re both correct. The cast and crew all took it very seriously as it was happening, we stayed true to the emotion we’ve all felt. But everyone can attest to the fact that the emotion can make us do silly things.
Why do you think people delight in their own misery so much?
As I said earlier, it’s a sweet fruit. Weirdly enough it can be a badge of honour and experience for some. It can enable you to be a jerk or to do stupid things. You can be careless or inconsiderate. People love the pity they get from people, and they’ll exude any form of sadness in order to garner the attention of others! Drinking and sadness is the optimal pairing for some. It opens doors to dark paths. It teaches you about yourself. And eventually, when the sadness is gone, there can be a deeper appreciation for everything.
It’s an all-male cast but the shadow of a female presence looms large – what can people take away from your presentation of the way men and women relate to their emotions?
The central conflict of the film hinges on the male fear of vulnerability. Adam acts as a blank canvas, and is consistently lured to each of his friends’ ways of grieving, all classically masculine and not addressing the feelings at hand. The only truth is Candi Staton. Her voice resonates through the film, and Adam is afraid of her powerful and honest heartache, even though his friends fully embrace it.
There are many things culturally hardwired into the male and female brains, I think a lot of it is bad and contradictory to one’s true nature. A man should be allowed to cry without being labelled as a ‘bitch.’ A woman should feel free to get angry and express it without being labelled as a ‘bitch.’ Don’t be shamed by your culture, follow your body and your feelings! Candi is the truth because she’s vulnerable, but she’s angry and she’s passionate and strong all at the same time. She can be all of those things because, to a certain degree, she’s tapped into that pure androgynous way of thinking, embracing her sex and all of her emotions. Men and women can both learn from her. At the end of the day everyone should be like Candi Staton.
Well, there you have it. Feel all your feelings by checking out the movie below: