Kevin O’Brien [Interview]

Today’s interview subject is a truly special human being that I am so happy to have on the site today. It’s the brilliant writer and filmmaker Kevin O’ Brien! His debut feature film, At the End of the Day, was recently released and you may remember us talking about said film just last March. It still remains my favorite film of 2019. It is a poignant and brilliant look into the world of christianity and the absurdity of discriminating against a person because of who they choose to love. It is a powerful story that is done so well by Mr. O’ Brien, and I can not recommend it highly enough to you all.
We were excited to learn a bit more about Kevin’s latest film, and obviously a bit more about him as well. We were so fortunate to be able to steal a few responses from him to share with you all. His compassion is amazing, and he obviously has a serious set of ideals that are memorable and will conceivably lead to even greater projects to come in the near future. And we are so excited to follow him on his journey of creativity, wherever that proverbial road may go. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Kevin O’ Brien!
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When did you first discover your passion for the world of filmmaking? Was it something that you always knew you wanted to do? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?
I discovered filmmaking later in life, in my 30s. I always loved movies, but I grew up in a small town on the Virginia coast in a rather sheltered home, so to me movies were these things created in a far off magical land and shipped to us. I had no idea filmmaking was a career option. I actually discovered filmmaking while on a church staff as a creative director. We often used original elements in the worship gathering, and I started writing and editing them, and quickly fell in love with the entire process, specifically being able to move an entire audience with words, images, and music. A few years in and I knew I wanted to make it my career.
Your debut feature film, At the End of the Day, is truly a magical piece of cinematic art if I have ever seen one. I truly loved it a lot. So, I am curious to know where this story came from? How much of it is based on reality for you personally? I’ve come to learn that you yourself grew up with a very conservative and religious upbringing?
Well, that is very kind, Ron. Thank you. I did grow up much like the lead character, and the “coming of theology” he experiences was very much inspired by my own growth, but the actual story is fiction. However, the dilemas, scenarios, and characters are all based on close friends and their experiences. The stories we hear in the middle of the film (at the Zebra house) are real stories, not written or acted out scenes. Those are the actual stories told by the youth who lived them. That was very important to me from the beginning – to have a sense of authenticity about these relationships.
I like to say that At the End of the Day is fiction, but it’s true. And in many religious circles it’s a current situation. It’s easy to think that our culture has become so progressive and that this kind of rejection is over the top or dated, but for those living in religious homes and communities, it is reality.
While the entire cast of the film was amazing, I recently felt the need to single out Chris Cavalier, who portrays the character Nate, in our recent showcase of At the End of the Day. I am always curious to know how a creator just “knows” when they have found the right person for a role. So, I am curious to know how you came to realize that Cavalier was the obvious choice to play Nate?
Man, Chris is so good. He actually wasn’t who I imagined originally for the part, but from his first audition for Nate, I knew he was it. He was so authentic and real. The main thing I look for in casting actors is if I believe what they are saying, and I believed him right away. He’s such a powerful talent, and a kind spirit. I always enjoyed when Chris was on set. We had a few conversations early on about how he should play Nate, and I think we really found him together.
Now that the film is out there for the entire world to enjoy, I’m certain that there are who will demonize the film based on the premise alone, without actually even watching the film before judging. This is the sad reality we live in. But, I am more curious about the positivity that I am sure has come from the film being out in the world. So how has it been on that level? Have you had fans reaching out about how the film has impacted them?
Yes, the positive stories far outweigh the negative. From the very first screenings, people have told us how much they have felt seen and heard in this movie. They’ve thanked us for telling their stories. I think it’s a perspective that’s very underserved – people who grew up in evangelical religious homes and are looking for their own truth. It’s a very lonely place – I know because I’ve experienced it. Ironically, the social institution of the Church is not very forgiving when you start to ask questions or come out as your true self. For many of these youth in christian colleges, they are forced to remain in the closet in order to graduate, and many of them have no other educational options. We’ve also heard from family members who have watched the film, and though they don’t agree quite yet, it helped them respond in love when their own kids came out to them. It’s been amazing hearing these stories.
What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?
I’m developing a few ideas for my next feature, as well as a series. It really depends on which opportunity presents itself as the next thing that needs to be made. My passions lean toward telling stories of empathy and humanizing the marginalized, so I’m pulled to ideas about immigration and women’s rights.
What was the last thing that made you smile?
My wife, Teresa, who produced At the End of the Day with me, was just honored as the Volunteer of the Year at our kids’ middle school. We have three 7th graders, and she spends a day per week in their understaffed office, helping out wherever she’s needed. I just saw a picture of her by a banner they printed for her, and that certainly made me smile.
Check out Kevin’s brilliant film At the End of the Day on DVD and VOD now. To learn more about the film, check out our previous coverage of the film as a Sunday Matinee.

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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