Rod Blackhurst's 'Life'

A short film starring Kevin Heffernan, that proves life can be a real kick in the nuts.

It’s strange, I only think about the big ideas when I’m down in the dumps or high on some drug. I'm never just eating pasta at dinner and thinking what does it all mean? If that was the case, it’d be unbelievably exhausting to be alive. Everyone has a different definition of what “life” is and that’s OK. You've got your thing and I've got mine. I like my life a lot, except when I don’t. I usually think other people’s shit sucks, except when it’s amazing and I wish I had what they've got. Even when you're feeling high and mighty, there's that lingering feeling that right around the corner could be that metaphorical kick in the pants. We've all been there before. The person breaks your heart. You get fired for no reason. It's that moment that sends you to the ground cradling your bruised genitals, the moment where you're looking up at the clouds in the sky and you get a flicker or a notion of your life's purpose. But like everything else, it's fleeting. We are all stuck in an infinite loop of getting knocked down and picking ourselves back up. Few films have managed to capture that better than Rod Blackhurst's short called, you guessed it, “Life.” Kevin Heffernan (Super Troopers) stars as the person living it and it’s rough. Check it out below and then read my little interview with the filmmaker to clear up any confusion about what this whole thing is about. (The film, not life itself.)

VICE: Is this short film autobiographical?
Rod Blackhurst:
Sort of. Early last year, I option-ed a short story called North by a writer I like, Matthew Wade Jordan, and spent the first part of the year developing it into a feature film with my friends David Ebeltoft and Elgin James. Everything was looking good. We had some producers who wanted to finance the film, we’d written a pretty good script, and we had a good cast lined up. And then, about a week before we were scheduled to start shooting, we figured out that the producers were jokers. Total ass clowns. So, we were forced to cancel our plans and hit reset on the project. It was really, really frustrating. I was pretty beat down about everything, and needed to go out and make something to break out of the funk. Life is what came out of that. As far as I can tell, trying to “make it,” or whatever, in the arts is like this dehumanizing slog. You get kicked in the nuts.

You're a guy and we get the balls metaphor. But Rod, what's the version of this for the ladies?
In the works. It’s going to be called Life 2, and it’s going to be more or less the same but it’s going to be a woman running, and it’s going to be dawn. Nice symmetries, I think. I have a call into Sandra Bullock about it.

How many takes did it take to get the cinematography just right?
It took seven takes to get things just right, which is good because we only had enough film for eight or nine takes. As for the ball kick, I’m still not certain we got it exactly right.

How did Kevin Heffernan come on board?
Kevin and I went to the same college years apart. We met a few years ago when my friend David Ebeltoft and I started talking to him about starring in You Were Once Called Queen City, which is a dark comedy about high school wrestling. Kevin was going to have a part in North and after things fell apart with that I asked him if he wanted to head out into the desert.     
What are you working on now?  
I just made a short with my friends Josh Murphy and Trevor Eiler called PlanGOP, about an abortion pill Republicans can feel good about. I’m directing a feature documentary, which I’m excited about. And I'm working to find financing to make North and You Were Once Called Queen City. Grinding away. 

Jeffrey Bowers is a tall mustached guy from Ohio who's seen too many weird movies. He currently lives in Brooklyn, working as an art and film curator. He is a programmer at Tribeca Film Festival, Rooftop Films, and the Hamptons International Film Festival. He also self-publishes a super fancy mixed-media art serial called PRISM index.