Interview with Filmmaker P.J. Norton (EXPIRATION DATE)

EXPIRATION DATE played to rave reviews at the February 2019 LGBT Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

P.J. Norton: In making Expiration Date, it was important for me to tell a gay love story in which sexual orientation was part of the given circumstances and not the central conflict. I believe it’s important to portray the struggles that members of the LGBTQ+ community face because of who we are, but I also think it’s important to portray the everyday triumphs and struggles that we share with all of humankind. I also wanted to tell a story about a breakup where neither character was portrayed as a villain. I think a big part of coming of age is navigating shifting dynamics in relationships and coming to terms with the fact that sometimes circumstances trump connection.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

I made Expiration Date as part of a class at NYU so the bulk of the process was relatively short. I spent six weeks writing and prepping, 3 days shooting, and two weeks in post. Then, almost two years later, I re-opened the cut to finalize the sound design and prep the film for festival submissions.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Personal. Poignant.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

While we were shooting, we were surprised to learn that one of the apartments in the building was scheduled to get their floors redone. We had to work with the construction crew and shoot around their work schedule because the noise was insane.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Because I’m currently in prep for my next project, I haven’t been able to attend many screenings for this film. So it was truly so nice to hear that the audience responded to elements that we worked so hard to execute on set and in the cutting room. I’m very grateful that the LGBT Feedback Film Festival takes the time to edit and upload the audience feedback videos.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

When I was 19, I fell in love for the first time. The relationship was rewarding and amazing in so many ways, but after almost three years, it was time for it to end. We had been living in different states for over a year, and neither of us was ready to make a serious commitment. We were both young, and we wanted needed to see what else was out there. So…

One night in his apartment, we came up with a plan for the perfect break up (did I mention we were young?). We chose a date (February 17th) that made the most sense given our social commitments and travel plans, and we decided to remain a couple up until that day. And then ….it would be over. A clean break. I would get in my white Kia Spectra (may she rest in peace), hop on interstate 95, and we would no longer be a couple. It was a great plan. In theory. It was certainly a… memorable evening to say the least.

When I started grad school at NYU, I had been wanting to explore aspects of that night in a film for a long time. However, each time I attempted to write about it, I found that I was too close to the experience to see it clearly. So I waited. I made other things. Then, almost five years later, I decided I finally had enough distance to revisit the experience. And here we are.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

When I was growing up I would watch The Wizard of Oz every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. As an adult, my go to’s for repeat viewing are Young Adult and Like Crazy.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are your feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I’m just old enough to remember the days when we had to make physical screeners and mail them to festivals… so from my perspective, platforms like FilmFreeway are amazing for filmmakers, especially students and artists just starting out. They make it super easy to get your film out there and even help suggest festivals that might be a good fit for your film.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

My favorite song of all time is “Landslide”, but I actively try not to listen to it unless I really need it because I don’t want to wear it out.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I’m directing a web series called Assisted Living about two personal assistants in New York. We shot the pilot last year, and right now we’re in preproduction to shoot the rest of the first season.

You can watch the first episode here:

https://vimeo.com/307366442 

 

 

 

 

 

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