Is the cup of life half full or half empty?
Does our perspective on life change the outcome?
Can how we see the world change with our perspective even if our life circumstances are bad?
The pair adapted the off-beat, award-winning film in 2009 from the original, written by Canadian playwright Morris Panych. It premiered in Toronto in 1998.
It is the story of a cynical and suicidal accounting clerk who gets taken under the wing of a happy-go-lucky, ever-optimistic suit salesman.
“Basically, it’s the most depressed, cynical, pessimistic guy you’ll ever meet, who happens to meet the most happiest, arrogant guy you’ll ever meet,” said Arnold, who also stars in the film as Holloman.
But as the happy guy, Lawrence, gives life lessons to Holloman, his own life slowly starts going downhill, throughout which he tries to keep an upbeat attitude.
It’s an exploration of outlook, explains Arnold, who started acting at age 12 and writing plays soon after.
“Can Holloman, who’s circumstances might be getting a little better, can he actually change his perspective to something that is more optimistic,” Arnold asks redundantly.
Personally, for the Edmonton native, he feels that perspective can change because that’s within a person’s power.
“I do think that, yes, if you can see the positive and be optimistic and try to smile even despite circumstances, you probably will be a little happier than having a perspective that is negative and pessimistic. But that’s just me,” he said.
“But for other people, it’s tough, and it’s extremely hard to change perspective sometimes,” he continued.
For Arnold, it is difficult to choose between acting and writing.
“I enjoy them both because acting is instinct. You are using your body, it’s collaborative, dealing with other people, reading off of them. It’s very physical,” said Arnold.
Writing he loves for different reasons.
“You can be in your own mind, you can be imagining things, you can be trying to make social commentary, exploring ideas that as an actor you are only embodying,” he explained.
Originally, Arnold thought he might be playing both characters.
“One point, we thought, wouldn’t it be neat to do a version where I played both of them and it’s a split screen thing,” said Arnold.
“But we thought that would be too much of a weird art film.”
Then Arnold and Kowalchuk met Ben Cotton and found him perfect for the role of Lawrence.
“The way we interacted with each other, I became the Holloman to him. It was just a little more like our attitudes sort of fit the roles,” explained Arnold.
Playing the part of a depressed, suicidal individual was draining for Arnold, who feels he is more of an optimist and idealist in real life.
Filming for Lawrence and Holloman took four weeks, and at the end Arnold had to take a week off.
“I actually was really, really depressed,” explained Arnold, laughing.
“[Cotton] got to have so much fun and be so exuberant. I was just this sort of bump on a log with a droopy face and my shoulders were drooped, my clothes kind of hung on me badly and I had a really bad haircut, so every time I looked at myself in the mirror I thought, ‘Oh God,’” he said, adding that he enjoyed the challenge.
The best part of playing Holloman for Arnold was what he called the “Tall Poppy Syndrome,” a term he learned at a film festival in Australia.
Everybody is a poppy in a field and one of them is tall and sticks out, the good one. But when that poppy is cut down, there is a certain level of satisfaction that everybody gets from that.
“So Holloman, in this movie, even though Lawrence is his friend, there is a satisfaction that he gets from seeing this happy guy be taken down to his level,” said Arnold.
“I did very much enjoy that.”
The Maple Ridge Festival of B.C. Film takes place from March 17-19 at The ACT Arts Centre at 11944 Haney Place in Maple Ridge. There will be a question and answer period following most of the movies with the directors and cast members. Tickets for the inaugural event are available online at theactmapleridge.org, by phone at 604-476-2787 or at the ACT Arts Centre, beside the Leisure Centre downtown Maple Ridge.
Tickets range from $11 for a single ticket, $27 for a three-pack and $50 for a six-pack of tickets. Tickets purchased for the March 17 screening will include the festival’s 6:30 p.m. opening reception.
Lawrence and Holloman, directed by Matthew Kowalchuk and starring Ben Cotton, Daniel Arnold and Katharine Isabelle, is being screened at 5 p.m. on March 19 with the short film Monster, directed by Deborah Burns and starring Jodelle Ferland, R. Douglas Hutchinson and Dave Abustan.