“Well, um…see it’s about hand fishing, but it’s kind of also about these two guys…” It was clear the man was getting nervous as he stammered his explanation to me. I listened politely for the following two minutes as the older gentleman finished his epic narrative, before excusing myself and moving on to the next booth, silently cursing myself for starting up the conversation to begin with. I was at a film festival, and had asked a seemingly innocent and (I thought) straightforward question: “What is your film about?” Based on the earful I had just received, it seemed as if the director to whom I had been speaking with didn’t really know.
Huh? The person who wrote and directed this movie couldn’t explain what it was about?
Believe it or not, this is not really all that uncommon. It turns out that even though most people spend hours and hours working on a project, they are seemingly unable so sum it up with a few simple phrases. Since that encounter I’ve taken to asking that question to filmmakers for fun, just because I like to see people squirm with the nervous energy of being forced to boil their lifelong dream of a movie into three or four lines.