Filmmaker David Fenster wanted to capture what he was going through with his real-life father in Pincus. The helmer wrote the story about a son and how his life is altered by taking care of his father who is slowly fading away to Parkinson’s disease.
If the story seen onscreen feels almost too real, that is because Fenster cast his real-life father to portray the Parkinson’s stricken character and actor David Nordstrom to play the title character.
The duo visited with Movie Fanatic for an exclusive interview taking us inside the deeply powerful and personal film.
Movie Fanatic: What was it like working with the director’s real-life father?
David Nordstrom: It was great. Dave and I have been longtime friends and I’d met his father a couple times, but he was in much better health and I hadn’t really seen him since he became more or less housebound. So there was some familiarity with him going in and a lot with Dave. What David was good at was just making me feel absolutely comfortable about doing whatever I wanted to do or had to be done for the movie and just throwing us together and having the faith in both me and Paul (Fenster) that we’d work it out, just because we’re individuals but we’re also nice guys. We’re not going to step on each other’s toes too much, which we didn’t.
David Fenster: There was that good built-in antagonism -- a warm, friendly antagonism.
David Nordstrom: That is weird because all of the sudden I more or less moved into his house and started taking care of him, with a little bit of effort made towards being friendly. What the script did call for was kind of this antagonism from the beginning, so you kind of had to start bossing him around. We ended up just communicating with jibes and jokes to each other. It was fun, but it was difficult. A lot of that stuff was to lighten the mood because it could get pretty heavy. At the very least it’s a great way of keeping you grounded in the character and the performance.
Movie Fanatic: How was it writing such a personal story with Pincus? Was it therapeutic at all?
David Fenster: I’m pretty sure it was positive and hopefully it wasn’t too self-indulgent. It seems like a lot of positivity has come out of it and that’s magic in its own. I haven’t been home in a month or so and I was there for a really long stretch, so it’s hard to remember because there’s so much positivity around us that it’s really dark, difficult and unpleasant most of the time. Before we all were working on this thing, there was nothing to look toward. It was so easy to just focus on the negative, especially for my dad, mom and me. I think it’s been a good thing but I don’t know. Maybe I’ll understand my motivations for doing it a little better in the future, what sort of affect it had on me.
Movie Fanatic: Florida, your original home, is a big part of this movie, specifically the Everglades was almost another character. How important was it to shoot in Florida?
David Fenster: It was incredibly important… I did feel like there’s this air of mystery. There’s all this decadence and cheesiness and shallowness that goes on in Miami, but then there’s -- and it’s mostly in the Everglades and the Keys -- this weird mystery and strangeness to it. Whether that’s the tropical flora and fauna or whatever, there is that palpable thing. I was interested in showing that. It was really a personal challenge to present this place that I didn’t always think very highly of and it was so familiar as to just be boring. So to get past that and simultaneously I know that place better than I probably know anywhere else and I tried to highlight some of these weird little secret [places], just to show a really personal vision of that place, because you don’t see it very often.
David Nordstrom: I remember you telling me when you moved back there before we started working on the movie that you had a totally different relationship to that area since you moved back -- A) because of your age, but B) because of the situation, just that it was a slowly dawning realization that you lived in this very unique ecological, cultural environment. That’s never explicitly stated in the movie but I think that was going on with Pincus’ character that he’s probably lived there more or less all his life and only recently is starting to take notice of how strange and beautiful and mysterious that area is, because he needed that in his life.