Director and screenwriter Mike Cahill’s ‘Porcupine’ film discusses his film and the SCAD Savannah Film Festival | Screenshots | Savannah News, Events, Restaurants, Music
“Porcupine,” written and directed by Mike Cahill, delves into ideas of what family is and a different approach to finding a new one. Porcupine was screened at the 24th SCAD Savannah Film Festival and Cahill was there to experience the film with festival audiences.
“We didn’t think we would ever have the opportunity to do this. We cut the entire film remotely. I was in California and my editor was in Illinois, so there was really no way of knowing if the timing was working,” Cahill said of the film’s editing process.
“There are certain things that you want people to laugh at, but you don’t know until you’re in a room with people and we haven’t had that experience. Savannah was only the second time we’ve had this experience and it’s so nice to be in the room and having it work,” he said.
The film is based on a true story of a grown woman who comes forward for adoption and bonds with the pessimistic patriarch of her adoptive family.
“I was introduced to her ten or more years ago, and she told me her story, and she had written a few articles about it in publications. The first time I spoke to her, we talked for about 3 hours on the phone and I discovered that we had a lot in common. So his story was interesting, I just loved it,” Cahill said.
The film follows Audrey, a young woman full of life, always on the move. Over the past two years, she has lived in four different places and held several different jobs. She is estranged from her own family, dumped by her boyfriend, and faces deportation. At this point, she decides to offer herself up for adoption and find a new family.
“The idea of looking for a new family appeals to a lot of people, and just the audacity to have it done, to place an ad and interview people, and throw a party for a group of people who were potential candidates for her to be her adoptive parents and then find someone. A couple who adopted her and they are still there for her as parents,” Cahill said.
During this journey, Audrey meets Sunny and Otto who open her up to their life and family, but this match isn’t perfect and she discovers that Sunny and Otto aren’t the most perfect couple. Despite this, Audrey and Otto form a bond after going through tough situations.
“The only time things work is when they’re a bit far apart and then they find some kind of common ground. The idea is that it is useful to think about porcupines in winter, in the snow they are cold. They want, like all animals. They want to get together to warm up, but then they get hurt and have to back off. They have to find that place where they don’t get hurt,” Cahill said.
Audrey’s experiences with Sunny and Otto are genuine, awkward and sometimes difficult, but are also very touching. The film also focuses on the very simple and sometimes routine parts of everyday life, but still interesting to watch.
There is an intimacy given to the scenes and the actors in the film. Cahill paid attention to detail in how the scenes were captured, but also captured the real human interactions of his cast.
“I’ve seen it with two audiences now, and there’s kind of a common feeling and people have expressed that in Q&As afterwards. Maybe it’s just because we were all apart due to the pandemic and now it’s just exciting to be back in a room with people. I hope the film does that, that it brings people together, that it’s a shared experience, that loneliness isn’t something. It’s temporary, right? It’s temporary,” Cahill said.
The film stars Jena Malone (Hunger Games) as Audrey and Robert Hunger-Buhler as Otto. At the SCAD Savannah Film Festival, Cahill won the Jury Prize for Excellence in Storytelling and the Jury Prize for Best Performance went to Jena Malone.