With mental health being discussed more and more, Dillon Tucker’s Pure O is set to tell a deeply human story of OCD. Ahead of the film’s world premiere at the 2023 SXSW Film and TV Festival, I had the opportunity to speak with Tucker about his filmmaking process and what it was like creating a semi-autobiographical work of art. He also spoke about his hopes for the future of representation in media.
This is Tucker’s second film to be featured at SXSW. The first was “Uneasy Lies the Mind”. “[SXSW] was our first choice Festival” Tucker said. He felt that Pure O would fit well into the Festival overall, particularly with the film’s use of music. “I wanted to tie in music with the overall feel of South by Southwest,” Tucker said.
Tucker acknowledged that making this movie, based on his own lived experiences, was a deeply personal endeavor. “I really wanted to challenge myself to be vulnerable,” he said. He also added that he wanted to show that being vulnerable in art is a form of courage.
Tucker added, “[The film] was something from a previous chapter of my life that I’m on the other side of now.”
Tucker set out to make this film in part to further the conversation around mental health. “We have all been touched in our personal lives by mental health…there’s no one that hasn’t been touched by mental illness,” Tucker observed.
Speaking about the incredible performances in the movie, Tucker waxed poetic about working with such a talented group of artists. “[The actors] were so courageous with me and they…joined me on this journey. They were so willing to elevate the quality of the work and not have this be another gig or another film.”
Tucker also spoke about the importance of showing the trajectory of a relationship if one partner is living with mental illness. “I really wanted to show what that experience must have been like for the person across from that,” Tucker told me. He continued, “I wanted to depict a relationship, no heroes, no villains…here’s just two genuinely good people who have a massive love for each other that are just trying to figure this thing out and just do the best that they can.”
In terms of what Tucker hopes audiences take home from this movie, he is crystal clear. “I want people to walk out of the theatre and to really understand that we all need the help of other people, and that’s okay.” He continued, “Men specifically, I want men to be able to talk about mental health…and not white-knuckle it.” Hopefully, this topical message will resonate with viewers everywhere.
Pure O had its World Premiere at the 2023 SXSW Film and TV Festival.