by actor/director Philip Seymour Hoffman
The decision to direct Jack Goes Boating was an organic one that was borne out of a conversation with my fellow actor John Ortiz and our writer Bob Glaudini. The three of us were meeting to talk about the film and John off‐handedly suggested that I direct it. At first, the idea of directing and acting in the film seemed daunting. But ultimately the decision started to make sense as a natural extension of my longstanding artistic relationships with John and Bob and LAByrinth Theater Company where I had been directing plays for ten years, and whatever trepidation I initially felt gave way to anticipation and excitement.
There were several aspects of this story that were important to me in the telling of it. I felt a strong desire to tell a story about working class people in Manhattan which isn’t a story that’s often told. I’ve lived in New York since I was in college and one of the things that keeps me inspired and engaged as an artist is the influence I feel from being surrounded by all different kinds of people doing all different kinds of things everyday. I was fortunate to have an exceptional team of collaborators including my DP Mott Hupfel, my Production Designer Therese DePrez, and my Costume Designer Mimi O’Donnell who were each committed to capturing the visual beauty and texture found in both modern and old New York.
I was also intent on preserving the mystery that is inherent in the script—the mystery of what’s going on with these people, what exactly is the matter? To sustain that mystery, you have to restrain. You can’t show too much. When you see Clyde see the Cannoli at the Waldorf and you see his grief in that moment, you can’t show too much because of what you will see later. It’s how moments accumulate and go to work on the audience incrementally over the course of the story that creates the emotional impact that the film hopefully has in the end.
But at its most basic level, Jack is a story about relationships and the hopes and fears we all have around coming close to someone, trusting someone; it’s about what it is that sometimes keeps us from making a commitment to another person. And I say ‘us’ because I wanted to avoid the audience feeling a distance from the characters or feeling an instinct to judge them for being the “type of person who would....” Instead I wanted to keep a connection alive between the characters and all of ‘us’ watching; I wanted to keep it personal, authentic, and relatable to anyone who’s ever experienced all the awkwardness and oddity and complication and beauty and surprise and joy of falling in love.