Featured Short

This Always Happens

A couple on a first date argues about astrology.

This Always Happens is quite a particular film by Alexander Christenson which spawns an astrological debate through the mundane acts of a first date. Things get a little feisty as egoistic personal opinions get in the way. Like many artists, Alexander struggles with perfectionism and from his own words: “not in a cute, self-congratulatory way”, in the sense that there’s a mechanism that wants everything to be undeniably perfect – and the result is that someone puts so much pressure on themselves that the result is… nothing. This is where ‘This Always Happens’ originates from, a simple goal to complete a project.

I’d had enough time pass since I graduated college and was very unsatisfied with my output, that I decided to convene a little group of 2 other friends (also directors) to meet monthly, and all agree to start and complete a project, of our own, inside of 3 months. The idea being that this deadline would force me to finish something and not stress out over it being perfect. So “This Always Happens” was made under those conditions. I would highly recommend people do this. Accountability – even to your friends – is a very powerful thing.

The idea for the film came from Alexander’s obvious frustration with the whole astrology conversation. After doing the pro/con astrology research, Alexander found that the cons were pretty overwhelming – especially when taking a scientific objective view. This is where he started exploring the human emotional side to the conversation to heighten the dramatic aspects.

The key insight, however, was realizing that the two camps are not having the same argument. Science is concerned with certainty. Astrology doesn’t care about certainty, it cares about potential. For a fan of astrology, it doesn’t really matter if your horoscope is 100% reliable – merely the idea that it could be true, is enough. Furthermore, I realized that a majority of the people who “believe” in astrology see it on a much lower plane than, say, religion. It’s much more akin to popular culture. It’s light entertainment. To hold it to the same standards as science is really missing the point.

This is where it became personal, because once I realized that this was fundamentally a power struggle, I could look beyond the specific topic of astrology. I don’t know about other people, but I feel like a nervous wreck on a first date. All the more if I’m really into the girl. The more I think about trying to “play it cool” the more I seem to act in strange ways; I try to impress her. When you’re nervous or scared, the line between trying to impress someone and trying to dominate them can be very thin. So that explains Anton’s retreating into an area he feels safe in – shitting all over astrology.

Then we have a more idealistic side to the story where Anton realizes his errors and confesses in an emotional outcry. The story wonderfully transitions into Jill being fully aware of the situation, the conceit here is that her words are enough to lead him to recognize that this is a pattern… hence the title. Everything is heartily brought together by a strong emotional performance by Kyle Leibovitch & Kristen Brody, and a delightfully paced cinematography by Alexander Christenson.

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