Writer/Director/Producer: Andrew Kenneth Gay
“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it!”
— Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
It is not much of an exaggeration to say that the passage quoted above is the reason I tell stories. I read A Tale of Two Cities many years ago, and this passage has driven my growth as a writer and filmmaker ever since. Many powerful, magnificent films have been made about exterior journeys (the classic hero’s quest). The things that interest me as an artist, however, are the interior journeys behind the eyes, inside the hidden chambers of the human heart.
I have written and directed three successful, festival-bound short films, and each has dealt with the things we cannot or choose not to reveal to one another. In “Naked,” my first short, a husband and wife with a healthy sex life realize that they never sit casually naked together. In this case, their nakedness represents true vulnerability, the willingness to stand bare and be accepted by your partner. In “Love is Deaf,” winner of six awards, a man in a tux washes up on a beach after jumping overboard to commit suicide on the day of his true love’s wedding. However, he finds a moment of companionship after meeting a deaf woman in a bridal gown on the beach. Though they have no ability to communicate, the man confesses his deepest secrets to her and opens his heart to her in a way he never could to the woman he loved, and as result, he experiences a new moment of hope and possibility. Finally, in my other award-winning short, “Melissa With A Heart Around It,” a young Christian teen harbors the secret of her homosexuality from her pastor and her teenage crush. When a moment finally presents itself for her to confess and expose her secret to the girl she loves, she chooses to bear the weight of her secret alone, drowning in a broken heart.
When William Faulkner accepted his 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature, he told his audience that writers had “forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself, which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.” I cannot compare myself to Faulkner, but at least when I set out to make intimate stories centered on interior journeys, I can lay claim to a great artistic tradition.
A Beautiful Belly is a film about the secret conflicts of our human condition, about the fact that we remain always mysterious to the ones that think they know us best. Ben Folds wrote a song called, “You Don’t Know Me.” The opening lyrics follow:
I wanna ask you / Do you ever sit and wonder, / It’s so strange / That we could be together for / So long, and never know, never care / What goes on in the other one’s head? / Things I’ve felt but I’ve never said/ You said things that I never said / So I’ll say something that I should have said long ago: You don’t know me / You don’t know me at all.
This is the challenge of every marriage. Over time, the labels of “husband” and “wife” become masks we wear to veil our insecurities and doubts. Every marriage has its cupboard full of masks that spouses hide behind: religion, work, school, family, sex, whatever. They’re all just easy ways to categorize our counterpart’s behavior and avoid having to try to understand what’s really going on in the other one’s head. Aspiring artist and expectant mother are both common cinematic clichés, and that’s just the point. By turning these stereotypes on their heads, I hope I’ve examined how we mislabel those closest to us, just when we think we’ve figured them out.
Thank you for visiting our website. Below I have made available two earlier films of mine: “Love is Deaf,” an impossible love story about a man and a woman thrown together by the tides of life, and a short documentary called “Career Day,” about the ways that children and adults view themselves in terms of their past, present, and future career aspirations. I hope you’ll enjoy both videos.
Andrew Kenneth Gay, Writer/Director/Producer