Writer/director Terence Nance recently spoke with Phoenix Movie Examiner about his new experimental motion picture “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty.”
In “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty,” which opens Friday, May 31, Terence Nance plays a quixotic artist who hypothesizes about why he feels bad when a mystery girl stands him up. The event prompts him to ask: What is the content of a momentary feeling? Is it the sum of your experiences? And, more importantly, are your experiences the sum of you?
Q: Would you consider this film fiction or non-fiction?
A: I call it one-sided nonfiction in that it is very directly a story that I am telling about an experience that I had with and about the person I had the experience with. But, of course, the nature of any relationship is that there are two sides to it. My film is limited to just my side of it so it cannot be called fact for that reason. It is not deliberated upon by all parties involved.
Q: A lot of filmmakers use their craft as therapy. Did you do that with this project?
A: I think that there was some sort of function for the film in my emotional life. I think that function was to keep me thinking about her and thinking about our situation in a way that you hold onto something that you love. But I do not think that, in the traditional context of therapy, I came to any closure, got over or released the energy regarding that relationship while making the film. The experiences in the film that we do are what actually made me do that. But in the making of the film, all of that was kind of over and I was just left with the aesthetic concerns and creative decisions that I had to make.
Q: Tell me about the production process for this motion picture. Specifically, how long did it take you to complete it from start to finish?
A: Altogether it took about 6 years. I started it when I was in school at NYU for visual arts. At first, it was a very long short film. I decided to extend it after I graduated. There was about a 2-year gap where I did not work on it. I picked it back up again after that and it took about 4 more years to finish it. And it mainly took that long because of the animation. It took forever to produce animation with no money.
Q: Tell me about the editing process for this motion picture. Was that process at all difficult given the production’s extended time span?
A: It was pretty easy because that was how the script was written. Everything that I was doing was in service of that structure so the actual editing of this film did not take any time at all. It took maybe a few months at most. That process was very defined by the script. There were not too many ways that it could have gone simply because a lot of it was animated. And if we were to animate something, the effort that goes into that kind of dictates the editing decisions so the bigger ones are made before we even start that process.
Q: You raise a lot of questions during this movie. If you could boil it down to one theme, what would that be? And why are you interested in that theme?
A: I am asking the audience if they have been there before. And I am asking them to go back to that place if they have. Each person’s experience is specific and has its own idiosyncrasies. I guess that I am interested in the open-ended experience of the film.
Q: Finally, what is on the horizon for you?
A: I just finished writing my next film, which is called “The Lobbyists.” It is about a con-man and an ex-CIA agent who break into politicians’ houses and blackmail them into voting for progressive legislation.
Q: Is that inspired by a true story as well?
A: No. And if it was I do not think that I would tell anyone.