Q&A with I Used to be Darker Director Matt Porterfield

Music is fundamental to this film's storyline. How is it intertwined into the story?

Once I cast musicians Kim Taylor and Ned Oldham, it became a priority to weave their music into the film, too.

I wrote the script – along with my co-writer, Amy Belk – with particular songs in mind. I hoped that by allowing the performances of these songs to play out in duration it would disrupt the narrative a little and give audiences a glimpse into the private worlds of these characters. All the music comes from the world of the characters, whether it's being performed or plays in the background. Each song has an onscreen cue, which makes it feel organic.  

The film has a powerful improvisational style. Were many of the scenes improvised?

This is my most scripted film, so I'm happy to hear it had the energy of a more improvisational work. That said, there were many times on set where we scrapped or changed a piece of dialogue or an action because the actors came up with something better, more evocative, or more elegant than what we'd written.

Where else has the film screened?

Sundance, Berlin, CPH:PIX, BAFICI, Seattle, Sarasota, Maryland (my home town). We'll be playing France, Chile, Austria, and Greece this fall. 

What do you hope audiences will take from watching I Used to be Darker?

I hope audiences experience empathy and a sense of discovery while watching the film and carry the characters and songs with them out of the theatre. 

What other stories are you drawn to as a filmmaker?

I'm drawn to all kinds, but I have a predilection for stories about youth, characters in transition, and subculture.


I Used to be Darker has its second screening at 6.30pm tonight, Sunday 4 August. 


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