Genesis

by Andrew

Welcome to the Nor’easter blog – it’s been a long time coming, but I’m happy to open up an account of what we’re up to and to give you some more insight into the process of creating the film.

I started writing Nor’easter back in the fall of 2007 as a classroom assignment for Screenwriting 3 in Columbia’s MFA program. Screenwriting 3 and 4, which are taken by all writing or directing students in their third and fourth semesters at the school, are a sequence in which students write a feature-length screenplay under the direction of a single teacher. I worked with Lewis Cole, a distinguished professor of writing at the school who is responsible for overhauling the program in the 90s and making it the narrative-focused (rather than documentary-focused) program that it is today.

When I was considering what to write, I remembered an article written by Ray Carney, an influential professor of film at Boston University, in which he said to film who you really are and film what you don’t know about it.

The idea that you should write what you know is nothing new, but the idea that you should address what you don’t know is an extremely novel concept in filmmaking as far as I’m concerned. The vast majority of films are crafted experiences intended to tell us what the filmmaker is sure of – to create an experience that the filmmaker is in control of and that he or she could likely tell you about before you have it. It was challenging to me to consider attempting to make something that would be beyond my preconceptions, but it was a challenge I wanted, because I knew that the filmmakers I loved, John Cassavetes, Terrence Malick, Andrei Tarkovsky, Robert Bresson, and others, had been willing to do it.

The subjects that I chose were Maine and faith. Maine was easy, it is where I was born and the place I still identify myself with. Faith, on the other hand, was a subject I was only beginning to think of, and the extraordinary breadth of the subject intimidated me and made me want to try to collect my thoughts into something coherent.

Nor’easter is a document of that understanding of faith that I have come to – practical, applied, simple, and in certain interpretations of it, at odds with our natural states. In writing the script I have become much more interested in economics and politics than I ever was before, largely through my desire to understand our natural states and what it means to craft a system that is at odds with that state. Such systems rarely succeed in the long run, as far as I can see.