Director's Statement video
Sunset in Winter
The search for meaning and hope around the topic of death is one of the greatest human struggles. Sunset in Winter follows a man who faces the loss of his wife. From her death, Zack is reborn into a world that is suddenly far more lonely, cold, and bitter. It is a world that looks like the same world but where nothing makes sense. Sunset in Winter is my attempt to offer condolence for anyone suffering in this way.
I always believed Sunset in Winter should be a short film rather than a feature. Fist of all, the subject is grueling; it’s a bit merciful to keep the film concise. But also, I felt that if the film was any longer it would not have the same impact. When writing the script I only wanted to show a series of the most meaning moments from this time in Zack’s life. I purposely did not give much backstory to the characters involved. My goal was to create something that the audience could fill in for themselves.
We begin the film with an intimate moment where Zack and Beth are alone in bed; still trying to hang on to each other. I wanted this scene to feel like a womb - warm, holy, and full of love - but also full of anticipation of the impending pain to come.
The rest of the film is about Zack’s process of coming out from complete despair. The process isn’t easy. At first, it seems that darkness surrounds every corner of his being. Brady our cinematographer did an incredible job of translating these feelings through lighting and and his lens. Light, and its absence, played a major role in illustrating these moments. At times of Zack’s deepest troubles, I wanted to see the darkness he feels. However, when things were brighter in his mind I wanted to let the light shine. Brady and I found ways to illustrate that in this film though simple objects, the glory of nature, and through conversations with other people.
Every actor in the film had a direct connection to the character they played. Kimberly Hamilton (Beth) was in a production of Constellations, in which she portrayed a woman dying of cancer. Her honest and grounded performance was part of my inspiration when conceptualizing and tailoring this part for her. Charlton Hoag (Andrew) really is that kind of a friend that he plays in the film, and the stories he tells around the campfire are really his tales. Ian’s story in the film as “ Luke” is a true story. Kimberly Maxwell (Abigail) really is an avid hiker and has walked the entire Appalachian trail as well as several other through hikes. As for myself, I wanted to play Zach because I know the crippling feeling of loosing some one you love and how lonely it makes you.
I hope by seeing Zack go though his trails, perhaps someone watching will feel less alone through their own pain. I also pray this film will serve as a reminder for the audience to reach out to the people in their lives that are in a state of grief.