In early 2011, Julian McFarland noticed a very odd coincidence occurring in his group of friends: all of them, including himself, were getting dumped. And most of them were eager to talk about it.
“You have friends that can’t help but talk trash about their exes,” McFarland says. “That’s sort of what gave me the idea.”
McFarland, 28, then decided to collect tales of heartbreak from friends and strangers and discuss them in his upcoming documentary, "Dumped." He started gathering and interviewing his friends’ stories but soon began soliciting the tragic stories of Columbia locals with a very amusing flyer that promised to “save your dignity, or your life." It encouraged people to reflect on emotional scars from the past in a healthy environment. McFarland says the hardest part of the process was finding older people willing to discuss their heartbreak.
“(Older people) are kind of paranoid and shut in,” he says. “So you can’t really interact with them that easily.”
For the interviews, McFarland spent a year coming up with a total of 52 carefully-sequenced questions to ask his various romantically-scorned subjects. He says most people, especially men, were initially hesitant to open up to him so candidly.
“They generally started off slow, but by the middle part of the questions, they really start to run with it,” McFarland says.
Jason Frost, a friend of McFarland’s and an interviewee for the documentary, felt that it was uncomfortable to discuss his emotions in such a public way.
“It was a lot easier when we had beer in us,” Frost says. “It’s not really a guy thing to do to sit around and just ‘wah wah wah wah’ about your problems," he says.
McFarland thinks the documentary will be as entertaining as it will be emotional, and it could even serve as some cinematic relationship advice.
“People like to stop and look at the crash at the side of the road,” McFarland says. “People are attracted to destruction. I think the film can advise people to take more time with their relationships. It can serve as a self-help video but with some trashy entertainment.”
McFarland has not yet completed "Dumped," but said he hopes it will be ready in time for True/False Film Fest 2014. The film will be McFarland’s first, although he is working on other projects as well, including movies about zombies, alcoholism and telemarketing.
“He’s definitely dedicated (to filmmaking),” Frost says of his friend. “That’s all he does.”
Whether or not he makes it big at True/False next year, McFarland says he plans to continue his passion for filmmaking throughout his life.
“If it ends up being where I have to pay for my own films and fundraise or do a job I don’t really care about, I’m fine with doing that the rest of my life," McFarland says.