MASS: Jason Isaacs & Fran Kranz
Interviewed for Risen Magazine
Risen Magazine: Fran, let’s start with you. You wrote it, you directed it. I understand the idea. Talk me kind of how informed in the fact of your kind of history with school shootings and then becoming a parent and the thesis project you wrote, it was kind of the perfect merging.
Fran Kranz: I appreciate the question. Yeah, it does, it goes back to learning about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in college and in South Africa and it honestly, I was so affected by it mostly because I did not think I was capable of that. I did not think I was capable of forgiving someone who had taken a loved one from me. And when I had a child and I started thinking about these events that are happening in our country, I had to revisit those feelings as a parent. And again, just as troubled as I was before. And I felt like I had to lean into this and focus, dedicate all of my attention on this.
And then that’s when I came across these meetings and was so overwhelmed by the courage and just the sort of integrity I thought, that it took for people to get into a room, face the people they blame, face the people that they think they hate and work through their problems and try to find a way forward, try to find a way to heal, try to find a way to potentially forgive. It felt like something needed now. It felt like something urgent. It felt…It just, it took my sole focus for the last three years of my life to tell the story.
RM: It’s four parents, two couples, and I had different reactions to each of them parts that I felt like I could relate to and other parts that I wasn’t sure how to interpret. As it… Or talk to me, you know, what’s so fascinating was that it was relied solely on your voice, your emotions, your body language. There are no flashback sequences. I was fully engaged. I had a seat at that table. What was it like for you becoming this man?
Jason Isaacs: The reason we’ve come to the room is that our life is ground to a halt, myself and the brilliant Martha Plimpton playing my wife. We, well our life is, we’ve dug these ditches that we can’t see out of. We’ve built these walls around ourself and we’re so full of, she’s so full of blame and rage and hate. I think I’m above it. My character, Jay, thinks he’s managed to channel it into something constructive and useful. And he’s got all kinds of scientific and legal avenues, but he’s really living in denial of stuff he’s not dealt with. And the brilliance of Fran’s writing is we get into that room, we’ve got a plan for how we should talk, we’ve been given this language from a therapist and it all just, it becomes a big human mess. Be it the kind of jagged unpredictable edges of our humanity burst through.
And what it felt like was what you saw on the screen. I mean, we tried to be as real as we could and feel what was going on and be respectful and authentic, because we know that these meetings really happen. Not just school, the aftermath of the things that happen in schools, but restorative justice in prisons, and as Fran said in South Africa, people met with the people who’d blown up their family. And the principle of looking across a divide at someone you blame for everything that’s going wrong with your life. The hate that you’ve been carrying, that’s been poisoning you. That seems like something in our world right now we need to be able to get over divisions and see each other as human beings. And we just try to channel that.
RM: There’s so many universal themes within that and conversations that can be had, whether you are a parent or whether there is something that has wronged you, or you can’t seem to get past the idea that something can’t be changed right?
JI: Inside a marriage is enough places to look for blame.
RM: Absolutely. That mirror. And talk to me, one of the things I thought was so interesting too, is that there’s actual lens shift as our perspective shifts. Talk to me about that.
FK: I love that you noticed that. Yes, we start with these spherical lenses, vintage lenses to kind of have a grittiness in a sort of a reality, a documentarian almost feel to the movie. And then we shift to these anamorphic lenses at a key moment, essentially when they kind of relive the event that brought them there. And I wanted to illustrate how grief and tragedy changes your perspective. You lose a loved one, the world’s never the same. And you look around and it’s different for quite a while. And I wanted to reflect that in the storytelling, the visual storytelling. So I’m glad you caught that because it’s, I think it takes the movie into another emotional realm. And when we do that shift, yeah.
MASS is in theatres today
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