Director Maria Paz Cabardo writes about BETTER THINGS: THE LIFE AND CHOICES OF JEFFREY CATHERINE JONES
Change was only the beginning.
I remember sitting with Jeff — he told me to call him that — in his room, discussing who should write the script. He said I should do it: "You're the director."
I said, "You should write it since it's about your life." We sat, staring at each other, for what seemed like the longest moment in production history. I could never forget that day.
Let me back up. When I first met Jeff, I showed him my mock trailer for the film and he seemed excited. We were at the Pearl Street apartment, where he was living on his own at the time. He wasn't what I expected him to be.
The second time we met, Jeff and I went to a diner where he asked, "Why me?"
He wanted to know why I wanted to make a film about him. This time, Jeff seemed deadly serious, staring me straight in the eye. I felt like a deer caught in the headlights, mumbling answers. I said something like, "I want to learn how to make a movie and I'm curious about the rumors I've heard about your life."
I just told him the truth.
That was the last time he asked me questions. I got to know him better during the two years it took to make the movie. I asked him about everything, and he answered every question willingly. I also spoke to a lot of people who defied my expectations, mostly in a good way. I experienced many happy and bittersweet moments with Jeff while filming. I miss him very much.
This film is a one-person production. I had a, let's say, "challenging budget situation," and most of the time I found myself wishing for help, even an intern to get me coffee or something. Luckily, I soon discovered a few staunch supporters who stayed with me all the way. I had an amazing crew from Belfast, without whom the film would've never been made. My good friend Mark helped me with the editing, and he was amazing as well. I had the assistance of some of Jeff's most loyal friends, and I had my family and good friends who helped me at every turn. Without all these wonderful people, the conversations I had with Jeff would never have been shared with the world. Jeff had an extraordinary gift, and his life resonated with an extraordinary light — a light that illuminated my own life in a new way. I hope it will illuminate yours as well.
There are a million ways to tell a story.
It's difficult to cover one person's life in 90 minutes — especially if the story is as deep and bewildering and intriguing as Jeff's story was. I chose what, to me, were the most interesting, revealing events in Jeff's life as a starting point, and I'm hoping this approach will serve to encourage people to find out more about him and his art.
Making this film on my own, I had no investors demanding deadlines, producers arguing about my choices, or marketing teams dictating target audience. Maybe that was a good or bad thing, but I believe that I've created a special film due to that freedom. I hope you enjoy it, and find out something about yourself too, as you witness the life and choices of Jeffrey Catherine Jones...