Interview: 'Like Me' Writer/Director Robert Mockler Talks The Importance Of Open Interpretations For Films

I had the pleasure of viewing one of the most fascinating thrillers that I think I've ever seen, Like Me, within these past couple of weeks. It's a film that explores the perils of isolation and loneliness that has been caused by internet culture. I had the opportunity of talking with the Director/Writer/Editor of the film, Robert Mockler, where he went into more detail about those themes, the importance of not giving away too much so as to not ruin other people's interpretation of his work, and a ton of other things. Check it out below!

Before I get into the questions that I have planned for you I just wanted to take the time to tell you, and I had put this in my review for your film, that this was one of those films that reminded me why it is that I love film and why it is that I know that I have chosen the right passion to pursue. I myself want to be a filmmaker and I know that this is one of those films that will continue to have an impact on me for years to come. So, I just wanted for you to know that all of your time and effort that was put into this film wasn't in vain by any means.

That means so much to me. Thank you for saying that... I don't really know how to respond. I mean that's really nice of you to say, thank you so much.

No problem! I just wanted to make sure that I got the opportunity to say that to you. So, going ahead and getting into the questions that I have planned for you, I have 7 questions, does that sound ok?

Yeah, totally! I must say, I'm always really nervous during these things, so if things get awkward I'm just letting you know that that's totally on me, not you. I'm losing my mind right now; we're about to premiere at 7. I'm riddled with nerves; so if I'm out of it, then my apologies and I'm so sorry.

Well let me just tell you that this is my first time ever conducting an interview, so you're kind of making history right now with me.

[Laughs] So, it'll be a journey.

[Laughs] Yeah, definitely. So the first question that I have for you is all about your inspiration for the film. I personally could tell that isolation plays a huge part in this film, so I was wondering if you could talk a little more about what inspired you to create a film that explores this topic.

Loneliness and isolation is something that I've dealt with in my life. It's something that is very personal to me. I guess, it's just drawing from personal experiences and seeing how its affected my life and others around me. I hope that... I don't know, I don't want to say too much because there's a part of this where I feel like if I say too much like I'm robbing an interpretation of the movie. One of my favorite filmmakers is Kubrick; he avoided talking about meaning. I don't know how to tackle questions that start to open up that world because I like that there is a margin that's undefined that hopefully people can explore on their own like you already have. I hope that that answers the question somewhat

I completely get where you're coming from. Looking more specifically at the film, one of the things that I noticed is that you pay a lot of attention to the act of consumption; whether it's character eating copious amounts of food or (the main character) Kiya's consumption of various technology and drugs. I know that one of your things is that you don't want to give away too much, but I was hoping that you could expound a little more on that idea?

Yeah! Well, the film is about loneliness and how we medicate our loneliness in some ways and I feel like we medicate our loneliness through things like technology and drugs. So, that's exactly right.

Would you say that that was the inspiration behind that beginning montage scene where we get a lot of close-ups of Kiya consuming those things?

Yeah... I feel like I'm constantly consuming... consuming some things that may be toxic and I'm aware of it, but I'm still doing it. It comforts me for short periods of time, but I know that it's not necessarily something thats good for me, so I guess part of the film is kind of exploring constantly consuming toxic qualities of our culture to quiet our isolation and the pain that comes with that.

Talking a little bit more about that montage scene, I actually think that that is going to be one of the things really sticks with people after they've watched the film. The biggest reason as to why I say that is because you took something as trivial as close-ups of someone consuming various things and made the imagery come off as being really abrasive, disturbing, and even uncomfortable; and I know that that was a choice that you made throughout the film. So, I wanted to know if that was an initial intentional thing or was it something that just kind of unfolded as you went along in the filmmaker process? If so, why were you going for that kind of uneasiness within the viewer?

I basically viewed that as a way of diving into Addison's (Kiya's) character's brain in some way and expressing this fragmented sense of her identity and I hope that that was able to come through.

I loved your use of color. For me, color is one of those things that I personally pay attention to when watching films because I think, when used correctly, it's a great unspoken way of learning more about the characters and story at hand. When we usually see a story about isolation and loneliness, the colors are usually muted, dull, boring, and really desaturated. Within this world that you created for this film, those colors are anything but; you use a lot of vibrant, contrasting, and neon colors. I wanted to know why it is that you decided to go against the grain in that way?

Again, I think it has to do with this world being a reflection of this character's brain. Although, we're dealing with themes of isolation and loneliness, there's something about this moment in her life that's this reckless protest against society that I think is making her feel alive for the first time; and I hope that that use of color gets across that idea and hopefully amplifies that concept. Not to give away too much, but toward the end of the film that last scene looked a little different in the sense that the color is almost completely pulled out of it, it's more subdued and muted and that was definitely intentional.

I was hoping that you could talk a little about the presence of water. Now, I may have been digging a bit too deeply into it, but I noticed that water plays a subtle but still noticeable part within this film; we see shots of the ocean, lakes, the gas station that Kiya visits is named "Wave", the mural on Marshall's wall resembles that of an ocean; so, I was wondering if you could talk about the symbolism of water and how that plays into the larger narrative of the story.

I'll try to me, let me know if it all makes sense; again this may all sound pretentious, but for me there's this idea of oceans separating people throughout history. The ocean was this kind of obstacle in keeping different cultures from connecting and learning from one another. For me, the idea of oceans was exploring that territory in some way. I don't want to specify too much in that way because  again, hopefully I can still leave room for some kind of interpretation there; so, hopefully, I can kind of point to something and not completely spoil it.

What is the biggest thing that you would want for people to takeaway from this film?

I don't think that's for me to say. There's things that I hope people see but I understand that not everyone is going to connect with it in a way to where they necessarily see... I guess for instance some people are just going to connect with it. For me, a lot of the reason why I like certain films is because I'm connected to a feeling and kind of completely disconnected from something that I can verbally explain which is why I love film in general; there's this energy that I'm attracted to that I can start to make sense of later. Hopefully, people are interested in the mood and energy that we were trying to express and then from there I hope that they see areas that we tried to lean into.

Well, that's all of the questions that I have. Thank you for taking time out of your day to talk with me, I really appreciate it.

Thank you so much for talking with me. I really enjoyed it and I'm glad that you enjoyed the film. Hopefully, we get to talk again some time.

Like Me premieres in theaters today, January 26, 2017.