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Director Q&A: Peter Askin talks “Certainty”

Friday, April 20th, 2012 by

After a packed screening at the Regal Hollywood 20 in sunny Sarasota, Florida, Peter Askin addressed the questions of a very pleased crowd after the screening of his film Certainty. The crowd let out excited yelps and applause as the film played and graciously thanked Askin for his contribution to SFF. ¬†This is Askin’s second film to screen at a Sarasota Film Festival, after last year’s Trumbo.

Certainty begins with the end of the traditional ‘boy meets girl’ setup with couple Dom and Deb being engaged. We follow their steps through a Catholic church engagement camp as they discover things about one another and about themselves.

Certainty screens again at the Sarasota Film Festival on Saturday, April 21st with screenwriter Mike O’Malley scheduled to be in attendance.

Q: Does Dom represent the statistical outcome of children/people to compartmentalize a tragedy with living their life a certain way in order to avoid negative outcomes?

A: I think he was trying to control things because something happened early in his life that was outside of his control. Which, being raised as a practicing Catholic, because his mother looked to the church for the answers he was told that he simply had to accept something that was unexplainable and incomprehensible to him. What he did when this formal house of faith left him still seeking questions, he constructed his own secular house of faith based on good works and doing the right thing.

The difference in this kind of story is that usually the story begins with ‘guy meets a girl’ and tries to work his way towards a commitment. Well he begins the story with an absolute commitment so it’s kind of unraveling in reverse

I think at the end when he finally says “I don’t know” it’s the first time he’s admitted that he doesn’t have all the answers and that things can happen outside of his own control. I think what Mike, in the writing, tried to do is say in some way this is Dom’s most honest moment and there might be a future – if not for Dom and Deb – then certainly for Dom in the future recognizing he can only do what he can do and he can’t control everything or everyone around him. He’s trying to be absolutely the best man he can be, not just to his fiance, but to his mother and to his sister and to his friends.

When it happens that he can’t control someone else’s feelings it’s a shock to him and he unravels.

Q: All the characters and dialogue were fabulous. Were there many rewrites and/or interaction with the actors in their approach to their characters?

A: Yes, the writing was a long, long process. It began 12-14 years ago as a play, and the translation from theater to film was an arduous one involving many rewrites. Mike, as an actor, has a natural ear for very naturalistic dialogue – but it was a process to make the transition from theater to film and that was perhaps the biggest challenge.

Q: Was there anything in the writer’s life that made him undertake this topic?

A: Mike was raised Catholic so that’s first and foremost. Knowing him as I have for a long time, and Will knows him quite as long, he feels passionately about this material and also in people’s relationships and the shifting aspects of Catholicism. Sit down and have a beer with him, you’ll be there for hours!

Q: How did you accomplish the great feats in lighting, which helped strengthen the powerful scenes of the film?

A: Well kudos to our Director of Photography Shaun Kirby whose a real artist, his other films are truly works of art. Lighting is the first thing cinematographers take on and have very strong feelings about. All the scenes were shot in Queens, NY for budgetary and practical reasons.

Q: Did the church have any sponsorship in the movie?

A: No, no sponsorship. The profanity notwithstanding, what was refreshing from our point of view was it didn’t take a satirical look or – I don’t think that the church comes across as a negative character in this, they seemed quite enlightened by this from my point of view despite Dom’s feelings.

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