Love After Love is Russell Harbaugh’s directorial debut, and a film that explores human emotions unlike any I have seen before it. We have all been sad, angry, happy, hopeful, and indifferent at some point in our lives.
We have said things we didn’t truly mean and may have regrets. This is the theme of Love After Love. Not so much these ideas themselves, but the emotions we feel at any one given time—when going through a tragedy, dealing with a change, or coping with your own family. While watching this film, I considered it more of a spotlight on these emotions through the eyes of one family rather than a conventional narrative—a family that could easily be mine or yours. The cast is not particularly likable, nor are they dislikable—they are simply human, like us. We are forced, through our own human reactions, to have empathy with their emotional roller-coaster ride. The way in which this movie is almost purposely filmed in an uneven, disconcerting manner will isolate some viewers. However, this is an experience intended to be felt rather than observed.
At the film’s world debut, the Spring Creek Sun spoke with the director, writer and cast members.
Love After Love Director/Screenwriter Russell Harbaugh and Screenwriter, Eric Mendelsohn
Spring Creek Sun (SCS): What inspired you to make this film?
Russell Harbaugh (RH): I’m drawn to stories as an artist, a way of processing the things I feel when I’m alone or scared. This movie, for me, is about a period in time after my dad died, becoming an adult, and the danger inherent when going out in the world as a 20- something year-old and not knowing where you belong, and trying to find where you belong and having the added burden of not knowing what grief is. Not knowing what it means to move on from someone (who is important to you) dying. For me that is where the movie started [to be drawn], but the movie is its own thing now. It’s fiction. We were not interested in replicating the world, but we were interested in how to communicate a set of emotions that we felt very deeply about. How can we collect those things and give them to someone else? How can we make other people feel this thing that we felt about the experience? I think that is the most striking thing about the movie—it’s what I am most proud of. It has its own personality that is about the feeling that inspired its inspiration.
SCS: Has this film changed your perception of family?
RH: I don’t think anyone knows what family is…. You know what? Here is why this film is about family in a real way: There is this expectation, in a family, that you are more than just grouped together physically, but that you share a central experience. That really gets tested after someone dies. And this idea of grief, what is grief? People process death very differently and within a family you begin to understand that the individual members of that family are processing it in ways that are contradictory, in some ways confrontational, and the truth of that experience is that your somewhat alone. The idea of a central, shared experience just breaks away and is very fragile and your kind of like wondering, like aliens apart from the mother ship.
SCS: What does it mean to you to have your film showcased at the Tribeca Film Festival?
RH: It means a lot. I’ve been reading some things this week about Tribeca looking for their personality and what’s the thing that makes Tribeca Film Festival, but I want to say that we picked to screen here. We had other offers, and the Tribeca Film Festival was the best for what we felt our movie was, which is a New York story and feels kind of formerly new to us. [Tribeca Film Festival] is a place that really embraces and celebrates our work.
Eric Mendelsohn (EM): The idea is that no one is getting rich off making this movie. Four years of subway rides in the cold to places to edit something and yell at each other and make up with each other, and when a festival says we want to show an independent film in the current [economic] climate, I bless them. Festivals do in America what the government does in other counties, which is [in other words] support the arts. God bless them and thank you for this honor.
Actress, Juliet Rylance, plays Rebecca in Love After Love
Spring Creek Sun (SCS): What drew you to be a part of this film?
Juliet Rylance (JR): My amazing agent sent me the script and I fell in love with it. Then I had a Skype call with Russell and just loved the way he talked about how he was going to work on it and what he wanted to get out of the experience of making it.
SCS: The film seems very family orientated.
JR: It is.
SCS: Did you draw any inspirations from real family experiences?
JR: It reminded me of moments of my family, and I think of everybody’s family when they go through things. At the beginning the main character’s father is dying and the family goes into this chaos of how they deal with it. In most families when there is any kind of amazing event or terrible event, absurd things happen. So that feels very real to me.
Actress, Francesca Faridany plays Karen in Love After Love
Spring Creek Sun (SCS): Could you tell us why you wanted to play this role?
Francesca Faridany (FF): The script; I love the script, it’s brilliant. Even though it’s a very improvisational situation, so by the time you get to the set you will have a meal set up and Russell will say can you just talk about whatever. So it will be a lot of improvisation with the camera rolling and it’s really fun, and everybody else is really good at [improvisation] so I learnt how to do that.
SCS: This film is centered around the emotions of a family. How did you bring that aspect to your character?
FF: I can say I have been through the grief train, heavy grief train. I play a role who is a very close family friend. I mainly appear in these meal scenes and I can totally relate to that, how people start to behave in a very odd way when they are going through a lot of grief.
SCS: How does it feel to be here promoting the film?
FF: It’s so much fun! I live here in New York.
SCS: What do you hope people take away with them after seeing the film?
FF: The connection to the story. The connection hits so many cords. I believe that will be main one that people will walk away with. Most people have been in that unfortunate, but true situation of losing someone you love and having to deal with it.
Photos by Dean Moses