The point of this story is to see that no matter who we are as humans, we are all trying to have the same experience in terms of wanting to find love, wanting to be accepted, to be heard and understood...
It's such an intimate portrait. How did you get Billy to let you into his world?
Well, it's interesting. What I've learned is the most important thing in your project is intention. People can sense if your intention is genuine and clear and sincere and comes from a good place, and people can sense if it doesn't. I feel like my intention was really clear, which was to give Billy a voice. I felt like he deserved to be heard, and that he had a voice and could speak for many other kids that weren't being heard. To me this story speaks to all humanity.
Billy's imaginative world is his sanctuary even though he knows that none of the people in it - like King Kong - are real. But still he wants to be a superhero; he wants to rescue a damsel in distress. He doesn't think the same way we do and he doesn't understand and see things the same way. And he's gleaned so much information from movies and books about social situations that these people have been his resource. He imagines, what would Cary Grant do in this situation? Because he doesn't know how to do it the way we do it, but he knows that in order to survive in this world he's got to know how to do it, so if he's going to learn from anyone he wants to learn from these people. And because of this, the rest of the world doesn't always understand and him, he goes to that other place and says I'll go hang out here for a little bit.
And at the same time he's very quixotic.
He is like a young Don Quixote. There's a lot in the film about perception, and I think all of us perceive things in a certain way, and we only see what we wanna see, or what we can see at the moment that we're in. And I think the thing with Billy is he just does things in an extreme way. Billy really sees the good in everyone. He's a glass-half-full kind of guy, unless you're performing some kind of injustice. He can't stand people that break the rules, or doing something to hurt someone. But otherwise he's gonna give someone the benefit of the doubt. I think he really just wants to be a good person and he cares so much.
I say sometimes I feel like the qualities that Billy possesses are these innate qualities that all of us come into the world with. And then we learn over time how to build up defenses and get callous to those things because you need to survive in this world.
It's like he knows that the world can be an awful place, but he doesn't want to go over to the "dark side."