A Ghost Story
by writer/director David Lowery
One of my favorite filmmakers was once asked in an interview if he ever thought about the audience when he was writing his movies. “Of course,” he said in response. “I’m never not thinking about them. And so it always comes as a surprise when viewers find my films strange or challenging, because I made those films for them.”
I think of this sentiment often, and share it. I write for the same audience. And direct for them, and edit for them, and try to make the movie perfect for them. They’re never far from my mind. Which is to say—you are never far from my mind. Yes, you, reading this, looking at showtimes, seeing what’s out there, wondering what you might like to see: I think about you all the time.
(I hope that doesn’t sound creepy.)
I must also admit that when I am thinking about you, I always put myself in your company, seated right beside you. I do this because I love going to the movies more than anything else and whenever I make a film the first standard I hold it to is: would this be something I’d be excited to see?
Here, then, is another admission. The movies I am excited to see are often very strange. I like movies that provoke me. That test me, that tower above me and make me ask questions about myself. I like movies that remind me of other movies, or music, or places, or smells, or memories that once meant so much to me but that I might have somehow forgotten. I like movies that play with time, or form, or both at the same time, that squeeze and stretch and challenge my ideas of what cinema can do.
I also like it when a movie moves me. Simple as that. It can move me up or down, left or right. Doesn’t matter—I just appreciate being moved. I like it when a film surprises me by making me laugh, and then turns that surprise on its ear by making me cry. I like movies that draw blood. I like it when a movie feels like a funhouse mirror, but one which slowly and subtly contorts until at the end I realize with a start that I’m looking at a perfect reflection of myself.
And, of course, I also like my movies with ghosts in them.
Suffice to say, then, I would be excited to see my new film, A Ghost Story, because it ticks pretty much all of those boxes in one way or another. I will sadly never actually get to fulfill my own hypothetical anticipation—but you could. And I hope you do. I hope that after reading this you’ll scroll back up and check the showtimes and seek it out. I hope that you’ll see it on the biggest screen you can find, that projection will be bright and the volume turned up and that the rest of your fellow audience will shut off their phones, because in case you hadn’t heard, this is a quiet movie (except for the parts where it gets loud).
I hope you like A Ghost Story. I hope you love it, but even if you don’t, I hope you’ll carry it home with you and turn it over in your head and remember it. Either way, it’s out of my hands now. The movie is now the property of everyone who I imagined seeing it when I first conceived of the idea, when I was writing the script, when I was shooting and editing. It belongs to all of them and all of the people I didn’t imagine, because my imagination only goes so far. In other words: it belongs to you.