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July 23, 2017

End Of The Tour

On May 31, just over a week after wrapping The Old Man & The Gun, I hopped on a plane to London to show and thereby engage with A Ghost Story for the first time since Sundance back in January. It played simultaneously on three sold-out screens at the West End Picturehouse, less than twenty-four hours after a band of deplorables did something terrible on the London Bridge. I wasn't sure if anyone would want to go to the movies after that; the fact that they did - and en masse at that - made the whole world feel a little more ship-shape.

That was the beginning of an entire summer of introducing our ghost to the universe. From London I went to a screening and press day in Seattle, which felt curiously apocalyptic, and then back to a hometown debut at the Oak Cliff Film Festival in Dallas, which was as cozy as a night at the movies can get. We had a week off, so Toby and Annell could at long last get married and I could get a little work done on the Old Man edit, and then I packed up two suitcases and left for Austin, New York, Los Angeles, Prague, New York again for opening weekend and then San Francisco, Chicago, Montreal, Toronto and one more stop in Los Angeles. This trip lasted a month. It felt longer. Now it is almost August, the end of summer is in sight and yesterday was the first day in what feels like forever that I didn't have to say a single word in public about this movie.

A year from now, the many interviews and Q&As will have all congealed into one recessive mass in my subconscious. I know this from experience. The gravitational impact of a month-long press tour will almost entirely diminish, leaving in its wake happy memories of traveling the globe with friends old and new in support of a little movie whose hand I was happy to hold as it took its first baby steps. Looking back, I won't remember what I said, nor will I cringe thinking about what I said. All the interviews and press breaks and Q&As will have more or less vanished, leaving just the movie. It'll be there for anyone who wants to find it, and it says everything I wanted to say in the first place.

But right now - right now I wish someone would forbid me from ever speaking in public again. Or, in lieu of that, force me to undergo a crash course in debate, public speaking and extemporaneous elocution. I look back with despair on all the times I said the wrong thing, or when, in pursuit of a cogent statement, I'd wind up arguing against an idea I'd espoused a few minutes earlier. Which isn't to say those ideas were ever clearly presented in the first place (they weren't). When speaking aloud, my vocabulary decreases by about sixty percent. The periods that would end my ramblings with a modicum of grace are forever beyond my grasp. I predictably, consistently fall prey to those ands and buts that turn my sentences into precarious, Seussian ziggurats. Every now and then I'd manage to get my point across before these constructions collapse on themselves, but more often than not, I fear I did not illuminate the movie. Word by word, I may have actually diminished it.

Perhaps I'm exaggerating. Perhaps it's not as bad as I think (although, in some cases and one case in particular, I know it's actually worse). Perhaps most filmmakers feel this way when they have to talk about their own work. Perhaps I'm overcompensating unnecessarily by pushing back here, in the private-public of this page, with a modicum of good grammar and syntax, as if to say See, I really do know how to use words good. None of this needs to be said; I'm indulging myself by saying it.

On the upside, everyone I spoke to was wonderful and patient and, as is always the case, taught me much about the film that I didn't know. A gratifying amount. I know now that in making the movie I only scratched its surface. Listening to other folks talk about it, and question it, and poke holes in it and then stitch those torn seams back together enriched my own understanding of just what it was we made last summer.

So, to everyone who came to a screening or sat down for an interview or transcribed my rambles; to everyone whose excellent questions served as a pre-emptive antidote to my answers: you have my thanks.

The film has been open for three weeks now. On the 28th it expands even further. We've already finalized the Blu-Ray extras and home video art, but for now the fact that the movie only available on the big screen thrills me. A24 has done an amazing job. I went to see Dunkirk, Valerian And The City Of 1000 Planets, Lady Macbeth and Endless Poetry this weekend and feel like we're in great company at the cinemas. In a few weeks I'm heading back to London for a bit more press, with a quick jaunt to Poland and Hong Kong after that, but the movie is mostly in my rearview now. Having been able to do this is a luxury. A luxury that wears me out and makes me hate myself sometimes, but still: small price to pay for getting to do it in the first place.

Now it's time to get my hands a little dirtier on The Old Man & The Gun. I just watched the latest cut, which currently stands at 88 minutes long. It's not even close to being done, but already that running time feels pretty damn perfect. I'll try to stay a little bit more mum on this one.

Posted by David Lowery at 3:48 PM