Stephen Crompton brings us his first Florida film Sweet Love, a story about an elderly man in the twilight of his years as he recounts his rather risque past. You can read about the director from Tampa, Florida and his other works below.
What is your connection to the South?
I live and work in Tampa, Florida. My documentary film, Sweet Love, which was filmed in Hillsborough County, Florida, is the first of my Florida film projects to be completed. My experience of America began with Florida, and at a young age. This was, of course, to make the pilgrimage to Disney World. Now, as a somewhat cynical adult, I find the state an endless curiosity.
Where did you get your inspiration for this work?
Sweet Love is actually a spin-off from another film I’ve been working on for more than two years. The incomplete film is a look at a specific retirement community in Florida. When filming on that project hit a roadblock, a colleague told me I should visit the Sun City Center community just south of Tampa and meet his friend, Alvin Bojar, who lived there and would provide us a tour. So, we spent the day with Alvin. I wasn’t immediately interested in Sun City Center as much as I was in Alvin, especially when, out of nowhere, he recalled the circumstances much earlier in life surrounding the production of a softcore porn film. The story came from nowhere and seemed completely at odds with the world he now calls home. The juxtaposition of those things caught my interest, and is at the heart of this film.
How did you start making films?
When my father goes on vacation, he records everything. There is nothing wrong with his memory, so it isn’t as though he records events to help remember them. And his audience is decidedly limited – I couldn’t even tell you how many of his vacation videos I’ve made it all the way through. Not many. Yet he continues to record hours and hours of footage, and spend many more hours editing them. For him it’s a compulsive behavior, something I now understand. Around the age of 15, I started asking questions about his camcorder, and after playing around with it for a while I got my own. Soon afterwards I started a school with a video production club. I was one of only three members. The three of us decided to make a short action spoof, which we made up as we went along. It was great fun, and was well received at the time by the friends and family that made up our target audience. So we did the only thing we knew how to do; we made a sequel. That was really the start of it for me, and after making a couple more unrelated shorts I went on to study film, first as an undergraduate in the UK and then as a graduate student in the US. But really I blame my dad, even though our work is very different.
Did anything interesting or funny happen on set during the shooting?
My producer fell asleep during the main 90 minute interview recording I made with Alvin, but we didn’t wake him until the end.
What do you look forward to the most during Indie Grits?
This will be my first time attending, and I most look forward to seeing some genuinely interesting films. Knowing some of the works of the other filmmakers screening, I have absolute confidence that I won’t be disappointed.
Why should someone see your film?
I enjoy spending time in the strange but endearing world of Alvin Bojar, and I think others will too. When he speaks in person, as in the film, he casually shifts from amusing anecdote, to self-deprecating commentary, to philosophical laments about the end of (his) days. In twenty minutes I attempted to do something that is quite impossible, by trying to capture the spirit of someone by discussing two disparate aspects of their life. But hopefully people find it to be an interesting experiment, and are as happy to see it as I am to present it.