Roy Arwas’s short film Clarity which stars well-established actors Chris Browning and Brett Zimmerman, takes a look at a rocky relationship between a father and son but things take an unexpected turn when the son learns of his father’s mental health diagnosis. We had the chance to catch up with the brilliant director Roy to discuss his amazing yet relevant film.
How are you doing and how are you coping with the lockdown?
It’s definitely been an interesting time, to say the least. I am devastated knowing by what’s going on in the world, and for the millions of lives that have been affected by this horrible pandemic. However, as a way to cope, I luckily was able to put all my efforts into my work, and my business, and it has been a great opportunity to really grow!
Did you have experience with the disease before setting out to write about it in your film?
Although my family hasn’t been directly affected by Alzheimer’s, I definitely have people who are close to me who have been affected in some way. I began my journey with this story by simply thinking about the relationship with my own father, especially when he was diagnosed with cancer. In some ways, that period made me appreciate him in a new way, and led me to thinking about “forgiving and forgetting,” a central theme in this film.
While writing this film, facing the reality of mortality, what were some of the paths this film took you down on its emotional journey?
This film was definitely personal. The reality of mortality became incredibly tangible when my father got his diagnosis. It suddenly made me come to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t have him forever, and that I definitely wanted to rewrite our relationship if we had another chance. I had spent my whole life thinking that being a man meant I didn’t express my emotions. But almost losing my father made that wall completely shatter. Luckily my father survived, but it definitely left me with this urgency to tell a story about one of the most unique relationships—one between a father and son. Particularly from an emotional standpoint.
What was the journey you took to reach that ending?
This film is about forgiving and forgetting. Quite literally. Our protagonist, Tom, is forced to forgive because his father “forgot.” I felt that it was important that Tom ultimately forgave his dad, despite the fact that there was nothing his father could do to change it. Love is a complicated thing. But when you surrender to it, it’s the most profound thing we can do as human beings.
Do you feel that in turbulent relationships such as the one in your film, that it’s ever too late to make amends?
Never. However, something I realized is that making amends isn’t necessarily fixing or rewriting the past. It’s really about forgiveness and a person’s decision to re-write the future. Sometimes it’s about accepting the other person, despite their previous mistakes. In this particular case, there was nothing Tom could do to change what happened. His dad maybe didn’t deserve Tom’s forgiveness, but ultimately it freed Tom when he did.
What do you hope will be the main take away for those who are maybe going through pain with their own families?
My biggest hope, in all honesty, is that viewers would call their loved ones upon watching it. Don’t wait to tell your loved ones how much you love them. If there’s even a small chance at fixing what was once broken, maybe give it a chance. However, I understand this doesn’t always apply, and sometimes situations are far too dangerous or damaging to explore that option.
You have an amazing cast; how did you go about sourcing them and what were some of the signs that clicked you’d found your leads?
Brett Zimmerman is a very close friend of mine, and I wrote it with him in mind. Strangely enough, right after I finished the first draft, I watched a film of his that had just come out on Netflix. Chris Browning, who plays his father in Clarity, was in the Netflix film with Brett. My producer and I were watching it, looked at each other and paused the film. Their resemblance and their chemistry was perfect. We somehow convinced Chris to jump on board, and the rest was history. Jodi Moore Lewis, who plays Tom’s sister, is also a good friend of ours, and was just perfect for the role. Destiny definitely played a huge role in this process.
Did that add any additional pressure to your process of producing and directing the film?
Producing and directing at the same time definitely had its challenges, however, I had two incredible producing partners, Tiffany Kontoyiannis Guillen and Karly Perez Arevalo, who truly made this happen with me.
The film has already won some awards, so what comes next for Clarity?
Ultimately my hope is to continue getting this story out there! We are currently working on adapting it into a feature film, and hope to further explore stories within the same vein of importance.
Do you have any new projects you want to mention?
Yes! Me and my producing partner, Tiffany K. Guillen, are currently in development for two television shows, and a feature film. We officially launched our production company, and have been going full force into making content!