How did you go about creating a character that, despite committing a terrible act, didn’t alienate the audience?
The key is to portray his humanity, not hide it and create an image of perfection. Peter Snowden wakes up in the morning and he has a cigarette and he dances around with his underwear on. We’ve all done that. When we’re lonely, we don’t just sit there on the sofa doing nothing. We listen to music. We go online. We try different ways to get connected. What Peter’s condition is, is a side-issue. What he’s done is a side issue. Who he is, is significant.
Peter’s connection to others, or perhaps lack thereof, is an important component of the film.
The meta-narrative of ‘Nightingale’ is this idea of isolation and being connected while not really being connected. I think there’s a condition now where we are constantly taking selfies, this idea that we are our own internet creation. Peter Snowden is very much “on” when he’s recording his vlogs. He’s holding a camera up to himself saying, “This is really who I am. This is really what I'm about,” when he’s the complete opposite. What you're watching is a cry for help. But he doesn’t see it as a cry for help -- he believes people really are interested in his fish recipe and who’s coming to dinner. It’s facile and asinine in the same way that you can go on YouTube and you can look at facile, asinine, dullness for hours and hours and hours. Why is it that we have to do this? What is lacking in our affirmation, our confidence, that we need YouTube people to comment on us and tag us? It’s kind of a strange way to be validated.
Peter is in constant dialogue with people we can't hear on the other end of the phone or on the internet. Why did you decide only to show Peter’s side of conversations?
This movie is not about anything other than Peter. Not hearing the other side of the phone call makes us more focused towards him and we can interpret what’s being said. I believe you actually hear the conversation on the other side even louder because of the way David [Oyelowo] portrays Peter. Early on, we discussed hearing the other side of the phone calls, and I wasn’t for it. It would’ve changed the way you experienced what Peter’s experienced, and I didn’t want to let the audience in on knowing which conversations were real and which conversation weren’t.