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art people

  • Wade Wofford talking about his film, The Answer.<br/><br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • Wade Wofford talking about his film, The Answer.<br/><br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • Wade Wofford talking about his film, The Answer.<br/><br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS

Wade Wofford finds the phrase “chick flick” supremely irritating.

“It assumes that men are incapable of appreciating a film about human relationships,” says the 38-year-old filmmaker who lives in Northampton. He disputes the premise that men only want to see stuff being blown up, or people fighting: “I’m just sick of the notion that males only want to see one or two genres.”

Wofford has written and directed a small-budget, indie movie titled “The Answer” that challenges that assumption.

Now in post-production, “The Answer” — Wofford’s second film — is the story of six men, all on the cusp of middle age. The six embark on a backpacking hike as a way to help one in their group who has become increasingly angry and hostile to those around him following his wife’s death. During the hike, the widower’s loss, and some of the other men’s own problems, make for what Wofford calls “a second coming-of-age” story, one portrayed as part of life — not a saga set against an exaggerated backdrop of violence, war or comedy.

Wofford, who teaches film and video at Chicopee Comprehensive High School, fell early on for what he calls “that magic,” that ability to experience another person’s world that movies provide. A native of Georgia, he fell in love with literature and wrote his first play in high school. He worked in theater as an actor and set designer, went to film school in Los Angeles, and eventually turned to directing. He discovered, he said, “that I liked being able to see what I was making, and to watch something I directed. With acting, it’s ethereal — poof, it’s gone. With directing, you’re composing an image, composing an experience.”

He started working on “The Answer” about five years ago, he said. “I really enjoy the writing of the first draft,” he said with a laugh, adding that eight revisions followed. It’s a humbling, challenging process, he said. “When you start, the world is new, and the characters are fresh. When you’ve read it and re-read it 50 times and revised it, the more difficult it becomes to be objective. Is this dialogue natural anymore? Is this scenario believable? Is this something the character would say?”

Filming for “The Answer” took place over 18 days, beginning in late July, in Vermont, western Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York City. Intense, exhilarating, consuming — the experience was all of that, Wofford said. “You’re working 16 to 18 hours a day for 18 days in a row.” Eleven of the 18 days were spent shooting the rigorous hike itself, from start to finish.

Back from the trail, Wofford is now working with film editor Dan Peck in Florence. After the editing is done, he’ll submit “The Answer” to film festivals, in hopes that it will be accepted for showing and will ultimately find an audience.

“I would love for people to recognize these characters as men they’ve known in their own lives,” he said. “I’d love for them to say, he was just like my brother, or that crazy guy I knew in high school.”

— Suzanne Wilson

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