Brightwood Movie Interview With Writer Director Dane Elcar

Brightwood Movie Interview With Dane Elcar. The other day I brought you all a movie called Brightwood… and not a single one of you brought me any sort of homage or treasure and left it on my lawn. But, that would be a reciprocal in kind gift.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you can’t read this movie discussion, or even this interview… really. You basically need to leave. Protect your virgin eyes! Save yourself! I’ll even make it easy for you – watch the trailer (actually don’t) then you can click one of these links below and voila, magic will occur behind your corneas.

Let’s Away Shall We??

THiNC. – “Where did the idea for Brightwood come from?”

Dane Elcar – “I first got the idea of someone being trapped going around in circles about seven years ago. I saw it more like a Twilight Zone episode then. I remember when I’d tell the idea to people they’d kinda look at me funny. However, I was able to convince someone to help me shoot it and that ended up turning into a short film called THE POND that I made in 2017. It was sort of a bare bones version of BRIGHTWOOD, in that it was just one character (played by me) stuck going around in circles in this infinite loop around a pond.

“As I was making that short film, it came to me that if it were a trapped couple, especially a couple on the verge of divorce, there was potential for a kind of grand metaphor on relationships. Of course, I wasn’t sure it would work and I didn’t have all the answers, but I knew the rules and I knew what the ending would be. So, as I was writing it, letting these characters play out in this nightmare scenario, I found it really allowed me to transgress into the rawness and absurdity of their relationship.”

THiNC. – “Where did the title for the film come from? I know that the perpetual nature of the sun means that it is bright – was it as simple as that? Or was there something deeper going on there? (I don’t know I could come up with 3 theories without trying… the brightwood is a cross reference, the brightwood is the place where this couple has an epiphany and learns something, the bright wood a chernobyl-esque, wormwood reference??) I don’t know. Maybe I’ll let you talk!”

Dane Elcar – “I love all those theories. 

“The truth is when my daughter was very young I took her for runs in her jogger around this local park in Westfield, New Jersey. I’d often stop and take photographs there. I would watch the light and how it changed the woods. I thought it would make for a great location. So that park is where I shot the short film. The name of the park is Brightwood.

“Originally the feature was shot under the title of THE POND just like the short film, but it didn’t feel right. I needed a new title and BRIGHTWOOD felt right. There was no other choice after that. Traditionally, when I think of forest settings in film and literature I think of darkness. The dark woods, the black forest, etc. The beasts and monsters lurk as you make your way through the foggy path leaving bread crumbs…

“In my story the path is a loop, it’s all in the light, and the monsters are us.”

THiNC. – “Can you talk about the sci-fi elements for a minute? How do the mechanics work? My theory is just that it’s constant time loop say – from 10:00 am to 11am, and every time they break the time window, they snap out into another continuity of themselves. A multiplicity sort of effect begins. Thus the iPods, thus the duplicate versions of themselves, the duplicate jackets, etc., etc. But I could quickly come up with other variants based on loops of the lake, and other system details? Do you have an overview of the mechanics and how they work?”

Dane Elcar – “That’s pretty good! 

“For me the time loop was always just the plot device that allowed me to dissect the relationship. Anything I could come up with in regards to why this is happening, or what is causing it, would be pure fantasy. So, even though I had an idea, I left it vague for the audience. It might be an alien time alternating device, or maybe they’re in hell. I didn’t want to distract from their story. Beyond the mechanics, however, I find it fascinating that even though it is a physical impossibility to be stuck in a time loop, we all seem to know exactly what that might feel like. It’s the reason why I love science fiction so much. This loop allowed me to tell a story where we can look at a relationship from a different perspective and in a way that is both impossible, yet seems very real. I also find time loops funny, and that was an important part of it. 

“Of course, I needed structure to tell the story, so I had markers in the script as to when they would enter a loop and when the multiplicity effect, as you say, would start to begin. There was Dan #1 and Jen #2, that kind of thing. You’re spot on in that they are repeating an hour or so in the morning. They could also be the 800th couple to have entered this time loop, who knows? I was thinking about the snake that eats its own tail.”

THiNC. – “The film is a mindjob time travel movie – but like Shane Carruth’s Primer – I think that the sci-fi elements here are sort of beside the larger point here? And maybe you are saying something much deeper than ‘to solve your marital relations, you need a time traveling lake (or is it a pond?)’ to do the trick?”

Dane Elcar – “I think I’ve made a film that you can watch in a literal way and still very much enjoy it. My hope is that I made it entertaining! I also think it’s a metaphor. People can relate to it in many different ways depending on where they are in their own relationships. I’ve had people come up to me to say this movie made them feel very sad, and that’s valid. I also had a lady tell me this is their new favorite romantic comedy. I see that the time travel elements and multiple versions of the characters crossing over make it complicated, or a mindjob, however, at its core there is a simplicity to this story that allows it to be relatable and as deep as you need it to be.”

THiNC. – “I – unfortunately – related so so so so much to these two people arguing at the outset of the movie. It is such a relatable topic. I’ve screwed up with my wife. She’s annoyed me. And I’ve LITERALLY been on this same run. It’s such a relatable position that these two people are in. And yet, I want nothing more than to reconcile – and yet it seems insurmountable at times… personally, I feel like the movie tries to give larger perspective on the issues that I’m nitpicking about. Yes, she wants me to volunteer to the dishes, and this makes me so angry (or whatever), but in light of this chaos, DISHES? I’m complaining about dishes?”

Dane Elcar – “I hate doing the dishes.”

THiNC. – “Is the ending a happy ending? Or the worst possible case ending? It’s one or the other, there is not an in between option!”

Dane Elcar – “BRIGHTWOOD is my love story. Is it a bad love? Is it a good love? Is it a cautionary tale? Ultimately, I think Dan and Jen got the ending they deserved. They are eating their own hearts to survive. I don’t fully know what that means, but it means something.”

I basically run this little blog so I can have a decent excuse to ring up people randomly like this and talk to them about how amazing their art is. It’s a pretty great cover story so far, no one has caught on yet anyway.