How did the story of ‘Nightingale’ come to be?
The Peter Snowden character was actually somebody I’d written in an earlier screenplay about a 12-step group. He had a very distinctive voice that stuck with me, and I was interested in writing more about him. But what really triggered the story was that a similar crime happened in my neighborhood. A man lived alone with his mother and he murdered her. He actually decapitated her and put her head out on the porch. This was right in my neighborhood; I walk my dog past this house every day. My mind would turn as I walked past the house, and I would think about what was going on inside and what was going on in the house next door.
What were some of the challenges making a likeable character out of a man who just killed his mother?
As a writer, I don’t worry too much about making the character likable. I want to make him true and I want to make him someone that you can relate to and empathize with. We’ve all wanted things that we can't have, particularly in the area of relationships. To me, the most poignant and heartbreaking experience that you can have in life is to love someone and not be able to have that relationship. That’s what this story’s about -- a man who wants a relationship with somebody and that just can't happen. To me, that’s what makes Peter Snowden relatable.
Why is the film called ‘Nightingale’?
The nightingale is renowned for its plaintive love song, and on a certain level, I think the movie can be seen in that way. This movie is about a man devastated by love and by loneliness, and this is his love song to the world.
Why did you choose to show Peter only inside the one house? Could you have seen him driving somewhere? Could he have gone to church?
I considered all of those things, and that was actually the approach that I was going to take when I first conceived the idea. I thought it’d be a small film where we’d show Peter at work and at church and going to the hardware store and the grocery store and so forth. But the more I thought about the film and what I wanted to accomplish with it, the more I felt that it was important to put the audience inside Peter’s head and to show his isolation. I felt it was important, in terms of dramatizing the script, to show that there was no escaping his loneliness. The best way for me to do that was to keep us inside his house.