We'll make a movie with our friends
We started brainstorming about what kind of movie we ought to make. We talked about our lives, our families, our childhoods.
I grew up in suburbia. Zac grew up in a small town. These places have their obvious differences, but we also started discovering many intriguing similarities in the things we'd seen growing up.
Everybody justifies the choices they make in life. For some folks living in suburbs and small towns, it's a choice they've made not to live in urban centers. Some of them believe the suburbs are a better, safer place to raise a family. Some believe bad things won't happen there. Sometimes these things are true. Sometimes they are not.
People problems, like crime or violence or loneliness or alienation, exist wherever there are people. Suburbs, cities, villages, islands.
They don't go away just because there's a master plan for the community.
For a town, as for any human being, the more we try to sweep our problems unacknowledged under the rug, the more our problems will emerge again in odd, surprising, sometimes disturbing forms.
This was the core of our idea: to explore a community the way you'd explore the character of a human being, someone who looks totally put together on the outside while below the surface there are whole other battles taking place.
We worked on the script until it seemed right, and then we planned to just go out and make it on video with our friends.
Then I got a good suggestion from my then-girlfriend (now-wife). She told me to make a list of five producers that I thought might be right for this kind of movie, and send the script to them. Then, if they didn't like, or if I didn't hear back, then I should go out and do it myself.
About a month later, I got a call from producer Lawrence Bender (Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting) : "I read your script. I really liked it. Who the hell are you?"