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Interview with Zachary Woods, director of David

Monday 1 March 2021, by Abla Kandalaft


Is David based on anyone you know?

Nope. My co-writer Brandon Gardner and I talked about lots of people we care about when we were writing. But there wasn’t one person in particular.

What gave you the idea of setting the story at a therapist’s?

My dad is a therapist and would sometimes get calls from patients in crisis when we were on family vacations. He’d have to walk far away, into the woods or down the beach or whatever, to talk to them. I always thought that must’ve been intense for him. To be playing monopoly and eating marshmallows with his kids and then get a call and within minutes be in the middle of somebody’s storm. Brandon and I talked about that a bit. Also, therapist’s offices are like theaters in a weird way. People go to those offices to have transformative experiences and make profound connections, to discover new stories that, if sufficiently resonant, can free them from themselves. I adore my therapist’s office. It’s very comforting and a little weird.

Can you tell us more about the casting process?

Casting feels like having crushes. You get obsessed by people and then work up the courage to ask them out and then sometimes they say yes and your heart swells and you get good nerves. I had seen all of these actors before and become immediately enamored of them. I also just worked on a movie with Will Ferrell and my admiration and fondness for that man knows no damn bounds. All three of them gave me such a beautiful gift by agreeing to do this movie and then showing up in such a whole-hearted way.

What drove you to try your hand at directing? How did you find the experience?

I don’t want to act in projects I don’t like and I’m a pissy little snob so there aren’t that many things I like. And then when I do like projects, there’s no guarantee or even likelihood they’ll want me. So I needed to do something besides be a choosy unemployed guy. Also, someone said – I don’t remember who – success is being able to fail on your own terms. I think a desire to fail on my own terms partly attracted me to directing. I found the experience of directing pretty euphoric. I was so moved by the actors, the crew, the willingness of all of them to embrace the vulnerability of enthusiasm. Everyone seemed so receptive to everyone else’s excitement. I feel like I got to host a party for the most beautiful surprising people. And at the end I got a movie that I love.

Any projects in the pipeline that you can talk about?

I directed another short that I co-wrote with Brandon. It’s called Bud. I love that one too.

What do you think the future holds for short films?

I think they’ll either get shorter, or longer, or stay the same length. Definitely one of those three.

If we were to go back into lockdown, what cultural or artistic delights would you recommend to alleviate our boredom?

Oh wow. What a fun question. I just saw the film The Son’s Room which made me weep like a fountain. I’ve been watching these YouTube videos called StreetBeefs where people fight in this guy’s backyard. They call it “Satan’s Backyard.” My favorite fighters are “Baby Hulk” who is this short guy who has incredible heart and talent, and a boxer called “Bad News” who seems very relaxed even though he’s in a fight. I also recommend the C.S. Lewis book The Great Divorce which is about several souls who take a bus from Hell to Heaven and have to decide if they want to stay. Lastly I recommend the short story Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin which is my favorite thing I’ve ever read by far.

Any message or comments?


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