ScreenPicks recently interviewed Jaron Albertin the director and (along with Charlotte Colbert and Edna Walsh) writer of the new film Weightless.  The film is a meditative study of a father (Alessandro Nivola) who, when informed by a sister-in-law that his former wife has disappeared, must take custody of a 10-year old obese son he barely knows. Both the father and son (Eli Haley) are reticent and are dealing with psychological issues.

Weightless is Albertin’s first feature film. He also has a career making music promos and commercials. Weightless opens November 9 in Los Angeles and New York

What were the origins of the story of Weightless and what themes is the film exploring?

Albertin: I had an idea that I wanted to tell a story where a father was living inside the belly of his child. Like a fetus, this father lived inside his obese kid. It was a metaphor for hereditary trauma, which is where trauma or extreme trauma can be inherited. In psychology, it is a phenomenon where traumatic experiences can be passed down from one generation to the next.  So this boy “physically’  harbored the past trauma from his father. To me this idea intrigued me, how pain and suffering can be passed on, repeated – it’s cyclical. The themes of connection and isolation were big for me.

I thought that the cinematography by Darren Lew was particularly effective. What was it like to work with him? Was there a specific tone and atmosphere that you wanted to create for the film to which he contributed?

Albertin: I had worked with Darren Lew before and I was so excited when he decided to come on board and do the film. We managed to work it into the budget so we went for it and shot on 35 2perf. He is great friends with my producer Erin While. Those relationships are important – especially on a project as small and challenging as this.  We shot in 18 days, so finding the right visual style took a lot of sacrifices. The challenge for me was straddling the balance between narrative and something more impressionistic. My mind always takes me towards the impressionistic – some people enjoy the abstract, others don’t.

Are there any filmmakers that you particularly admire?  Have they influenced your work?  

Albertin: There are always so many influences,  but during the making of this film there were a few which stood out. I was heavily influenced by the process of Carlos Reygadas, and the way he writes and approaches film is very inspiring. My purpose was to write something small and just go do it, then things evolved. The films of Bruno Dumont, Verity, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Nobody Knows, and The Seventh Continent by Michael Haneke were big for me and this film.   

What advice would you have to give to those trying to pursue careers as writers and directors in the film industry? What was your first break in the business? 

Albertin: My advice, and I always say this, is to just make things. Don’t worry about how good it’s going to be or what other people think, just do it. That’s the only way to learn and get better. Your first stuff is always going to be imperfect and pretentious. Don’t worry about it. 

My first break was working as an editor. I was cutting a music video for a friend out of my apartment, and the band ended up becoming really big in Canada. This was before YouTube and at the time videos were still only shown on TV.  So all of a sudden I was an editor and could work cutting videos – I owe my start to that. But the one thing I have to say about becoming a director is that I decided early that I wasn’t going to work for anyone but myself.  I never joined a post house or had a 9 to 5 job. It was hard, as I could barely afford rent for many years, but it gave me the time to work on my own projects. You have to go all in.

Is there anything, in general, you would like to tell audiences about Weightless?

Albertin: To me, this film is a harmonious perspective on violent and depressed realities alongside the magic of nature.

Would you like to share with us what your future projects are?

Albertin: I have a handful of projects spinning around, but I’d love to make a Sci-fi film. I want to push the boat out into the void of iridescent acid melting giant jellyfish. If the stars align one could be emerging very soon.