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Dissecting the Self: Writer/Director Matt Lynch talks ‘Relativity’

by Mitchell WajdaRelativity2Blood is spilled upon writing any piece of literature. Ernest Hemingway was the first to write this concept down, but certainly not the first to think that the life of any fraction of literature comes from deep within the writer’s innards. Matt Lynch is one who would agree. His thesis film, Relativity (set to be released at the Park School’s thesis screenings in mid-December), was the product of both sides of his inner consciousness. While Sigmund Freud may simply describe it as the id and ego, Matt Lynch refers to this conflict as the basis for a film that revolves around two characters named Chris (Connor Bell) and Craig (Mitchell Wajda). The two are cyber vigilantes whose morality is forced into question when presented with a twisted case of child abuse.

“The main theme is morals versus self,” Lynch said. “Relativity, to me, is a self-examination through this story of the two sides of my personality and how they interact. When I sat down to write [Relativity], I quickly realized these characters were becoming the two opposing sides of me. So I explored their interaction through this introduction of Emily.”

RELATIVITY posterIn the story, Emily (Eleanor Gattine) is a young girl who finds the team of Chris and Craig via the world wide web and reaches out to them across their private internet domain for help against her abusive father. The girl is desperately seeking deliverance from her domestic monstrosity and when she doesn’t find it from the authorities, she seeks it in these two characters. Chris is ready to put his identity as a vigilante within the cyber realm at risk of discovery by police and the FBI to save this young girl. Aggressively boiling on the opposite side of the moral spectrum is Craig, who pushes his partner to turn his back on Emily, seeing that the risk in the venture is too high.

“It’s very much a personal story. It may not seem like it at first, but it is very hard to write something and not put something of myself in it,” Lynch explained on the matter of the two characters at the center of his film. All writers seem to share the similar idea that the conception of a tale is not born without pieces of themselves breathing inside the narrative. For Lynch, his own project supported this philosophy.

With the two characters conceived, the challenge then was to place them in a setting where the exploration of their morality could be played to the utmost extent. Mixed into the overall goal was the desire to throw a moral dilemma at the characters. In doing this, the audience can clearly see how incredible different Chris and Craig really are by watching them wrestle with their issue. For Lynch, the ideal setting lived within the secretive territory of computer hacking.

“I had always been obsessed with computers. I started building them at an early age and I always tinkered around with my own. The character of this computer genius has always interested me, and in order to challenge them, I had to think of what I could throw at them, because they always seemed to be so in control.” Ultimately, the world of underground technology became the rope from which the story hung.

With the three biggest choices of story made—character, setting and theme—the time came to roll up the sleeves and put pen to paper, or in Lynch’s case, fingers to keys.

“For Relativity, I already had an arc of where I wanted to go established in my mind. Keeping with that arc, even though it may be frustrating, is the most important thing for me in making a coherent script.” Developing an arc is the first thing Lynch does before pounding out a first draft. This process was made easier and was churned out faster due to it being a story he strongly understood from the beginning. “I have a list of one hundred questions that I answer about each of the characters and that gives me an idea to how they would react to situations.”Relativity3Time was said to be the biggest constraint on the writing process. In the beginning, the idea Lynch wanted to roll with and eventually produce was a separate idea altogether, with different characters, a different conflict and a setting far away from that of the cyber world. When he sat down to work out the character arcs, Lynch quickly realized that he was dealing with a feature-length script. As most Park students are aware, feature-length films often require too much time to shoot over the course of one semester. In the end, that idea was scrapped and Lynch returned to the framework of what would eventually become Relativity.

However, when he finally realized that he had to shift sights to an entirely new concept, time was not on his side. The beginning of pre-production was closing in, and his producers still had not seen a draft of a script.

“I spent so long on this first idea, I realized I had to start this new idea and get it done. My producers hated me for dilly-dallying, but I really wanted to make it my vision,” he said. “And it did go through a lot of personal revisions. I only released three official scripts, but I have ten or eleven of my own personal ones that I wrote. That was my revision process.”

Despite the writing process being swift and under the bitter scrutiny of time running-out, the story is thematically poignant in that it communicates an overall sense of turmoil within the self, which is exactly what Lynch had set-out to create. “I think the main theme is morals versus self,” he went on to explain. “The thing I like about this story is that it kind of leaves the story open-ended. I present two ends of the moral spectrum and you, as an audience, have to figure out where you fall. So, I like giving the audience a choice and not telling them which one is right or wrong. I questioned myself in writing this and I expect the same of the audience.”

This weekend is when you can finally take the journey into the world of introspective morality. Thesis screenings will be presented in the Roy H. Park School of Communications, and Relativity will be one of the several featured. Come prepared to step into the deepest corners of yourself, where there is no more room to hide who you really are. Matt Lynch’s film will sharpen the focus on your inner morality and will have you stepping away knowing yourself on a much deeper level… whether that be for better or worse.

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