The Reverb Culture team is always sharing new and exciting art with each other. When someone stumbles upon an artist willing to delve into the messy aspects of believing and suffering and doubt, we collectively lose our minds (my iMessage thread with Edmund is just us fangirling over The Collection for days).
For this reason we're beyond excited to present this interview with William Price III, fresh off a successful Kickstarter campaign for his upcoming movie To Catch a Falling Knife. If you're late to the party, we've heard WPIII welcomes 11th-hour laborers (and monetary contributions) like our Lord commanded.
RC: William Price III. A name made for either royalty or art. I see you opted for the latter. I fear that some of our readers are hearing of you for the first time! So if I were playing retreat leader and forced you to share a two-minute testimony it would sound something like...
WPIII: My family certainly does not come from royalty. Haha. Nope.
I was born in Indiana, went to Catholic School there. Irish Catholic, Notre Dame, Rudy, all that. I was kind of an odd kid, really into grunge and punk rock... straight edge though I never liked the term. I had a religious experience in high school related to Eucharistic adoration, but my conversion was slower than that. It involved hanging out with a lot of fundamentalist kids who loved their Bibles, listening to Tooth and Nail bands, and most of all, asking a lot of questions of a few people who really mentored me through some rough years. They treated my questions as a sign of wanting to know God, rather than a sign of doubt. They stoked my curiosity- about love and mercy, truth and goodness and what that looks like. So I’ve never stopped believing, because it’s a beautiful vision to hold.
RC: One of the most common conversations I have with my Catholic friends is about what, exactly, good Catholic art is. We also wonder where it is. I still lack a definition, but it sure seems like we need more of it, whatever it is. This conversation cannot be foreign to you. Surveying the current landscape, what is missing? What have we lost? Or am I just not looking in the right places?
WPIII: Man, I’m bored by this question. I guess what we’ve lost is people who spend more timing doing–learning–developing–trying–sucking–learning–sucking less–learning–doing than people who sit and talk about the relationship between the three transcendentals and how that applies to the thing that they would do should they ever get off their ass. If you want to make great art, become a student of someone better than you and GET. TO. WORK. Beg for honest and even brutal critique. Get thick but sensitive skin. Churn out all that you can. If you want to be a great Catholic, than take faith in great things. Put those two together, and you’ll make something worthy of your audience. Of any audience.
RC: You and your wife have been rather open about your own suffering over the past few years. How has this affected your understanding of faith? How has it affected your art?
WPIII: My understanding of my faith IS my experience of suffering. Cancer in my family, cancer in my body, divorces, infidelities, drug abuse, alcohol abuse- those are my window into God because those are the experiences that I’ve lived or been affected by that reveal my need for mercy. That’s the whole concept of Fortunate Fall that Audrey was working with on her last full-length record. “For God has deemed it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit evil at all.” St. Augustine wrote that and the gist of his argument is that, because of our fall, we were able to know what it is to have a redeemer. To witness in our lives the power of a love that never quits and never ends. If you run from suffering, you run from the touch of Christ.
I also think that art is essentially about finding meaning and beauty through strife, struggle, and pain. If you haven’t suffered, you can use “the arts” to make advertisements and propaganda, but until you’ve suffered, you don’t have that well from which to pour out meaning and beauty. But everyone suffers, so it’s just the willingness to dig into it and make a gift of it. Which takes courage. So that’s what I’m working on now. I find it hard to access my own fears and pain on a regular basis, but it’s necessary.
RC: You recently sent out an email to your Kickstarter supporters listing your favorite movies. What have you been excited about lately: movies, music, literature of, say, the last year or two? We spend most of our time on music here: I already mentioned our recent infatuation with The Collection, though we've also been stoked on the latest The Brilliance album and have our eyes set on the new Garrels album lingering just around the corner. Edmund laughs at me for my late-90's-emo habit, but whatever. What are we missing out on?
WPIII: Oh man. Hm. The Drop. Not enough people saw that film. Tom Hardy’s performance is top notch. Ex Machina asked some incredible questions about humanity, identity, sexuality, origin, and destiny. It was also fantastically executed. I sort of lost my mind over Interstellar. The sets, the score, the space, the concepts, the VOLUME. I loved it. It gave me my favorite feeling in the world- the thrill of seeing something that feels utterly new. I’m very excited to see this film from Reed Morano and Olivia Wilde called Meadowlands. Did I mention Calvary in my list? Every Catholic should see that.
Music? There’s an EP by this Swedish pop artist Laleh. It’s called Boom and there’s a song on their called “Some Die Young” which is just heart-wrenching, and inspiring, and near perfect. Joy Williams’ new single Woman (Oh Mama) is the ultimate meeting of pop pleasantry with rich, textured lyrical depth. I wasn’t a Civil Wars fan but I’m very excited for what she’s doing. D’Angelo’s "Black Messiah.” If you’re into the late 90s thing, I highly recommend this dude out of Birmingham named Preston Lovinggood. Andy Mineo’s “Neverland” is Reach Records' best rap album in my opinion. Oh! Leonard Cohen’s most recent record was a real statement. Very nuanced and rich. Brooke Waggoner has a record coming out soon that I’ve heard and it’s really lovely. And my wife’s upcoming project called LEVV is so, so, so good. I’m incredibly proud of her for this stuff.
RC: I kept seeing your current project tossed around in my twitter TL and thought "I'll check it out eventually..." And then I watched your trailer and immediately started throwing money at you. For my fellow Millenials--always skeptical of hitting 'play' on a video longer than 8 seconds--how would you summarize what you're trying to do with To Catch A Falling Knife? What do you think is unique about this project?
WPIII: Honestly, I’m in a place that makes it really hard to talk about this. I’m rolling around in the muck of it trying to get a handle on how exactly to tell the story. So vocalizing on that isn’t easy. I’m not dodging the question or trying to sound artsy. It’s just the process. But I hope to make something great. I hope that I can write something a great cast will want to work on. And I hope that I can ask a difficult question with the film, and then say something that, probably won’t answer that question, but maybe it’s a real thing. You know? Like, to ask a very challenging question, and to follow that with an equally compelling response. That would be successful storytelling to me.
RC: What inspired TCAFK? What finally led to your decision to launch the Kickstarter and make it a reality?
WPIII: When I had cancer I had this realization that death was happening. It is happening. And not only that, but it will keep happening after it happens to me. Eventually, everyone I know, and everyone who will every have known me, will be dust. Me and the memory of me, gone from this Earth. It was something I was able to think about a lot. So this idea presented itself one day of the Sun exploding and forcing the whole Earth into that reality in a manner of weeks. That’s extremely compelling to me from an existential POV. And challenging from a plot POV. Anyway, the idea stuck around for a while and I finally gave in to it and decided to make it.
RC: Audrey is working on the score for TCAFK. I imagine that must be a rather profound experience, working on this personal project of yours together. What has that been like?
WPIII: Oh man. Haha. We’ve learned a ton about working together. It’s not easy. I don’t really recommend it too much. However, in this case, she’s right for the project. So I’m asking her to do something new, but also to do something that is a strength for her. The hard part will be her trying to understand what I want. Because communicating musical concepts can be hard to me. I end up gesticulating wildly and referencing Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Der Rosenkavalier a lot and it’s just a confusing mess.
But we fight hard for honesty in our relationship. And that’s a major need. Honesty, mercy, tenderness, mutual respect. Working together presents challenges to all of those things, but if you have them, you’re fine. If you don’t, then you probably need to find that out somehow anyway haha.
RC: Should fans of Audrey completely empty their heads of any expectations here, or will the soundtrack fall nicely into her existing discography?
WPIII: Yeah they should let go of expectations. Definitely.
RC: This wouldn't be RC without squeezing in a good Catechism reference somewhere. Do you have a favorite passage or section?
WPIII: I mean, I’m going to have to google one. Hold on...
How about 766:
“The Church is born primarily of Christ's total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. "The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus." "For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the 'wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.'" As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam's side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross.”
Greg Hurst, follow him on Twitter