What Is Theme? – Michael J. Epstein

Why do you like films that explore the theme of life and death?

Michael J. Epstein, Filmmaker, Writer, Musician, and Scientist: I think the reason I got interested in making art in the first place is to deal with fears and existential ideas and to get a better understanding of what it is to exist and what it is to relate to other people. Those existential ideas are the things that drive me to create art, that I love inseeing in art and the things that drive me to create art. When I’m looking at films I absolutely love thematically-driven films and the meaning of life I guess for lack of a better way to put it and the idea of what we’re facing, how do we face death, what does it mean to die, how do we experience that is really interesting topic to me.

Film Courage: Can you remember one of the first films that you watched which explored this? You spoke about music earlier and how sometimes music just speaks to you whereas in an actual conversation you wouldn’t receive this feeling right?

Michael: I think one of the first films that really connected with me thematically or with this type of connection is the film Phantasm. It’s really an exploration of grief and it’s really about this kid. It starts out, there’s a young boy who has lost his parents, the parents have died. They don’t really get into it too much. That’s the starting point of the film and it’s about his way of coping with that. There are these forces and I would call it the manifestations of his worries about what has happened to his parents and those manifest as this evil undertaker who’s stealing souls basically and bringing them to enslave them in this other dimension. It’s a very strange concept but it really spoke to me as a kid because it’s like what would…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).



Michael J. Epstein is a filmmaker, writer, musician, and scientist. With his production company, Launch Over, he has made theme-driven genre shorts and features that have played more than 75 film festivals and have been distributed worldwide. Prior to his film career, Michael toured and recorded with indie bands The Motion Sick, The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library, Neutral Uke Hotel, and Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling. He has also published more than 40 book chapters, papers, and abstracts in the auditory and psychological sciences and has written books on crowdfunding and the logical structures of science, mathematics, and statistics.











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