A Film About Reno Without Casinos? A Film About Faith Without Preaching?

So many things make Chad Hartigan’s film This is Martin Bonner remarkable.

In my interview with this impressive young director, just published at Seattle Pacific University’s Response website, I focused on only a couple of things that set his sophomore effort apart from other recent films. And it was a pleasure to speak with, and to thank, Hartigan for this — which will easily rate among my Top 10 films of 2013. (It’s in the top three on my list so far. I posted my first impressions of the film a few weeks ago.)

Here’s an excerpt from the interview that goes some distance in explaining just how unpredictable, unconventional, and refreshing this movie really is…


Tell me about your writing process. Are there certain storytelling rules you follow? Were there more dramatic drafts that you threw out? Did the story change during filming?


I don’t really follow any storytelling rules. I hate books about screenwriting. They may teach you how to write good scripts but they also teach you how to write terrible movies. The adages I try to remember are things like, “The characters are the story” and “Make the story simple and the characters complex.” If you have interesting people in interesting circumstances, people will watch, I think.

Michael Winterbottom has a great quote where he says, “Each scene should feel right, should be true at that moment, and gradually you accumulate these moments of truth until you get enough of them together that it becomes a story that’s interesting.” I’ll watch truth on screen forever, but as soon as I see a plot mechanism at work, I check out.



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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.