FROM THE DIRECTOR...
I love to tell stories. I love to make people laugh and I love to touch people’s hearts. Several years ago I was awarded that opportunity when I was approached to direct a music video called "Trust Me". The star, Matt Zarley, was an extraordinary singer/songwriter, and after hearing his original song I knew I wanted to be involved. The music video went on to win awards and was one of the richest directing experiences of my career. In early November of 2013, Matt and I reconnected to bring to life Matt’s newest endeavor, "Hopeful Romantic".
Matt is a great artist. I do not say that lightly. It was a huge responsibility to keep the project at a level befitting not only his talent, but also his message. That was a challenge I was ready to take. Matt wanted to express a personal journey as a short film with music that was, again, hauntingly brilliant, and he wanted to do it with absolutely no dialogue.
To me, Matt’s story felt like it should be told at the end of the world, a place where you saw beauty everywhere you looked but could travel no further. That place, for me, was Malibu. Because Matt’s songs flowed together like a soft breeze, I felt that the camera should be in constant motion, always flowing like the waves of the ocean just out of our reach. In addition, at the right moments, I felt that we should see the end of the world for both its beauty and confinement, and to lend vastness to both his feelings of despair and hope.
Matt’s journey through his connection to another human being transcends the boundaries between the gay and straight communities. We have all felt the sting of losing someone we love and this story was meant as a message for everyone who has ever felt love. Matt and I both felt we needed to add someone to our cast that could help us cross those boundaries. To me, that person was George Takei. Matt immediately agreed and before you could say, Trust Me, Matt had an outline and a few songs sent over to him. George connected to the project right away. It was Kismet.
We had just six days to shoot this short film, which was akin to shooting 9 or so music videos that all flowed together like a poem. I knew I had to bring in a cinematographer who could handle that kind of filming and be brilliant at the same time. That person had to be someone who was not only talented, but who was trained with the same filmmaking philosophy as myself. Someone with whom I could speak in filmmaking “short hand” and would know exactly what I was thinking. That person was fellow AFI graduate, Chris Ekstein, whose keen eye, positive spirit and natural ability was the last piece of the filmmaking puzzle. The moment Chris heard the songs Matt created all he could say was, I’m in.
Everyone’s journey through life is different, yet when you take a far enough step back and squint your eyes just a bit, we’re all pretty much the same. The bigger difference between us becomes the strength to move on when life is at it’s hardest. Matt’s journey is one of those moments where what could have been an end became a beginning - a life lesson worth telling.
-Benjamin Pollack, Director.
...FROM THE CREATOR
When I first started writing the music for this, I was deeply in love. The original plan was to write a simple little EP of love songs. I was so happy and I wanted everyone to know it. A few weeks into the process, my relationship ended abruptly without warning. I was devastated. It was hard for me to access a lot of positive loving feelings at this difficult time. Out of that temporary writer's block, I wrote "Constantly". As I was finishing that song, I began to rethink my project. What was originally gonna be a 5 song EP of love songs suddenly took a turn. I had decided to construct a narrative...a journey with music being the guide. Having spent the majority of my early years of adulthood on Broadway and virtually a lifetime involved in musical theatre, it seemed natural to finally merge my two worlds together into a cohesive one. Much of what I was writing about was also what I was experiencing in real life. Thru this creative journey, I began to slowly heal myself. In the end, my faith and belief that there's someone out there for all of us was once again restored. The eternal cliche that "everything happens for a reason" couldn't hold more truth for me than it did at this very moment. Today, I'm convinced that had I not loved as deeply as I did and had I not been so profoundly heartbroken, this project surely wouldn't have been conceived. For that, I'm eternally thankful for my once broken heart.
- Matt Zarley, writer and star