About a year ago, psychologist, author, and friend Matt McKay asked me to read the first draft of a novel he had been working on called Looking for August. Having worked with Matt on my first feature, Being Us, and knowing what a great mind he has for plot, character and theme, I eagerly accepted his invitation. I ended up devouring the thick manuscript in a day.
Looking for August had a lot of interesting elements: complicated characters, a compelling
mystery, uncompromising emotional content, and an empathic sense of the human condition. Set against the backdrop of a modern urban gay scene, Matt had drawn a psychologically dense portrait of a desperate woman searching for the truth behind the life and mysterious death of her estranged son. I really connected with Matt’s central character, Anna, finding her to be both heroic and flawed, her choices both heartbreaking and completely accessible. Anna’s feelings of guilt for the mistakes she made as a young, ignorant mother, and her profound need to find out how she lost her son compounded to create a beautiful tragic picture of a woman in crisis. I felt deeply for her plight, and rooted for her as she stumbled along the messy path towards understanding. The story forced me to examine my own assumptions about the nature of justice, and why people do horrible things to each other. Sometimes with, sometimes without malice, but always through the lens of our own personal navigation principles.
When Matt asked my writing partner, Dan Mayer, and I to work on a screenplay version of the novel with him, we were thoroughly excited. There was so much drama on the page, we both saw the cinematic potential. So we joined forces and spent the better part of a year honing our story. Passionately arguing overarching themes and minute details alike, we endeavored to breathe life into Anna’s heartrending journey. I believe that in doing so, we were able to say something honest about ourselves.
Sam Hancock, April 2014
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