Pentimento

Noah is broken. Everything good in life has been shattered. His creative drive. His muse and woman he loved, gone. As a painter suffering from crippling creative block and with a gallery breathing down his neck, Noah’s biggest battle is finding a way to begin again.

Director’s Statement

The script for Pentimento began very differently as I played with objects appearing and disappearing in a sort of real-time representation of how one might imaginatively augment and diminish the dressing of a scene. The end result: a painted canvas. But that didn’t feel like enough. I needed to give reason for this artwork to be created in the first place. I decided to build a story around a painter not so much struggling with success, but with loss and the more important need to produce something for himself. Essentially using creativity as a tool to move on with life.

They say “write what you know”. As a filmmaker who grew up in a creative family I have always gravitated toward authentic representations of the creative process on screen. Nothing annoys me more than seeing someone portray a musician holding an instrument the wrong way or miming so badly the performance loses all cred.

Similarly, when I had the idea of telling the story of a tormented painter, it occurred to me just how rarely I had seen the creative process of a visual artist unfold on screen. And then I started speaking to artists, who largely agreed with me. Outside of documentaries (with some exceptions) it has seemingly been a difficult thing to realise through performance.

As a collaboration between my father Terence O’Donnell and me (Dad painted the final artwork and was artistic advisor to Toby Truslove on set), the whole process became a very personal one. And daunting! For me, the next vitally important thing to get right was casting. Fortunately, Toby Truslove resonated with the script and jumped on board. I was blown away with his subtle, considered and convincing performance as Noah and truly believe he brought incredible pathos to the role. Luckily, Dad was a fan too.

Zoe Trilsbach and I met years ago whilst doing a play together. I have always wanted to direct Zoe in something so I wrote the part of Andie with her in mind. There was never anyone else. All there was left to do was collaborate with my incredible crew – including Producer Paul Sullivan, cinematographer Viv Scanu ACS and composer Andy Scott – to bring Pentimento to life and hopefully inspire all of us to consider what is important in life – and embrace creativity where possible.