LRFF Programmer Levi Agee talks to 2011 Golden Rock winner director Robbie Pickering
I was lucky enough to get to sit behind Robbie Pickering, director of the film Natural Selection, during his first screening at the Little Rock Film Festival. I could see him mouthing the words as the film played. He knew every beat of the film like a favorite song. I believemany of the audience members will have the same feeling after seeing
his film about a born again Christian woman who goes on a road trip to
find her husband’s illegitimate son after he slips into a coma. I was
able to ask Robbie some questions about his film.
Where did the inspiration for your film come from?
Well, I wrote the movie six years ago when my Stepfather was dying of
cancer and I knew that my Mother would be alone for the first time in
her life. I was frightened for her and couldn’t sleep at night
knowing the emotional turmoil she would have to endure alone, so I
wrote the story out of those feelings of fear – as a way to tell
myself that my Mom would be okay. As it turned out, I was dealing
with death for the first time as well, and I think that feeling
pervades the film as well. To me the entire movie is about coping
with loneliness and finding connections where you never thought
Your film has different tones of laugh out loud humor but also very
poignant emotional scenes and issues, was this difficult to strike
It’s always a precarious balance to strike. But I think the key was
that the actors and I always took the characters seriously as people.
If you can look at the characters in your story and understand where
they’re coming from and portray them truthfully, without being too
precious with them but also seeing the good in them, I believe that
the comedy and drama will flow together naturally. Life is filled
with both tragedy and humor to varying degrees – one really flows from
the other and vice-versa. They are inextricable in my book. So
that’s all to say that the key is to make sure everything comes from
an emotionally truthful place – even if it seems ridiculous.
What do you look forward to when coming to film festivals?
Meeting my fellow film geeks and filmmakers. And getting drunk with
them. Hopefully while singing karaoke (I do a mean Dr. Dre).
Why should people come see your film?
Because Rachael Harris’s performance will be the best darn display of
female acting you will witness all year. And the movie will make you