I think the word "earnest" kind of has a negative connotation on some level. I think one of the things that's happened is that being cynical is somehow conflated with being sophisticated. I think that's problematic, to say the least. I don't think evil people or negative people are inherently interesting all the time. People who are good people getting better at being themselves -- to me, that's something that's really interesting to watch. I went to college with really good people and had really excellent teachers and met some fascinating folks and I think those people are worthy of our attention. They're going through something. As they say, "Everyone's fighting a great battle." I think just attacking something with great sincerity feels kind of brave in this day and age, but I feel like that's what I want to do.
I also feel there has been a draw in the last five years to tell a story about "the little man" -- someone quirky and awkward who doesn't fit in. I think to be able to tell a story that's universal hits home more than "the little man." Like, "I'm so quirky! I'm awkward, but it's funny because it's weird!" That's the story being told.
There are certain films that studios used to make in the '70s and '80s that they've abandoned. They are films that I care about. I'm interested in real people going through things that feel vital and feel of their time. I want the film to have a timeless quality to it. When I go to movies and I love the movie, it's because it feels like it articulated something about how we're living now, and also gives me some insight into my own life. I feel actually altered after having seen it.