Disclaimer: The following is a work of fiction.
Televized Interview with Paige Matthews
Dominique Simpson has never been shy in expressing her opinion of the human condition; she’s practically built her career on it. Whether she was lampooning the current culture on the short lived sketch comedy show NSFTV, dissecting the woes of twenty somethings on the cult classic Vainglorious for five seasons, or holding up a mirror to our penchant for violence in much of her filmography, one thing has always been certain – her level of self awareness rivals that of people who’ve lived longer and experienced more.
Even more telling is the fact that after the colossal success of the epic space war trilogy Final Occasion, a series of films made for what the studios would consider pennies, she walked away from it all, and disappeared off the face of the earth, or as close to it as you can in this hyper connected world we live in.
Now, on the eve of the thirtieth anniversary of her breakthrough film American Struggle, the 57-year-old writer and director has emerged from her self-imposed exile, and I joined her at her bucolic estate in Washington state with this exclusive interview where we talk the highs and lows of going after the success you want and when it’s time to let it go.
PM: Thank you for granting me the chance to talk to you. First thing is, why, after nearly ten years do you want to talk?
DS: Well, I feel like enough time has passed for people to either have died, or to have forgotten about me. *laughs*
PM: *laughs politely* The thing is, people haven’t forgotten.
DS: Is that right?
PM: Not at all. When I announced that I was interviewing you, I received letters from kids in film school who are studying your work, people who came up with you saying how this film or that film changed their life or how much they related to it.
DS: I hear that a lot about American Struggle a lot, which is crazy because there were other things out at that time, and even way before I conceived the script, that shared the same experience.
PM: It was very raw, in your face. You presented it as if it were real. When I watched it, I felt as if I were watching a documentary-
DS: *pauses* That’s what I wanted. I wanted it to hurt, if that’s the appropriate word. I wanted folks to see it and really understand that that struggle is real for many people, and to this day is real. There was a time in my life where I was broke, financially, spiritually, mentally, emotionally. I wanted my pain and anger to be felt via Ronnie and Zeke.
PM: Were you surprised at its success?
DS: I’m always surprised. I sat on it for almost a year before I even attempted another draft, and then a few months later I pitched it, did another draft, and we were filming it in my house.
PM: And of course everything snowballed from there.
DS: Well of course, but it wasn’t the overnight success it looked to be. I knew what I wanted to do, I had a vision for the work I wanted to do, but the industry had different plans. They wanted to shoe horn me into a franchise, and I wouldn’t right away, because I wanted to get my TV projects off the ground.
PM: NSFTV? Vainglorious?
DS: Both. I wasn’t going to bet on one horse. And I wanted to get my friends exposure too.
PM: And Vainglorious was the vehicle to do that.
DS: Yeah. Sketch comedy isn’t my thing. But once I got Vainglorious off and running, and NSFTV got canceled, I didn’t stop working.
PM: Right, because, correct me if my research is incorrect, but, you did the first film in that one graphic novel-
DS: Bad Apples.
PM: Yes, then Metamorphic, Asylum, which you co-wrote, Bad Apples 2, 1900, Fight Nights, The Exterminators, Bad Apples:The Finale, Lake Athens, Killer Season, Sweet Merciful Death, and then the Final Occasion trilogy.
DS: That is correct.
PM: Why were you working so much? Much of your filmography was done while the show was still on the air.
DS: *sighs* There are a few reasons. I wanted to do it all while I still had a fuck to give, while I was still young. But mostly to keep myself occupied. I ran away from a lot if things under the guise that I was too busy.
PM: Running from what exactly?
DS: *sighs* My old life. Friends, family, old feelings, memories. Things you can’t run from, but I still did it. I worked myself ragged to keep people away from me. My family couldn’t ask me for more things if they could never reach me. My friends couldn’t pester me about things I didn’t want any part of- marriage and kids really. The last time I really dealt with a man was 2015, and everything since then has been me being too busy to form a bond. I’m afraid of it, because to me, that means I have to stop, that I can’t do this. My work is my baby, as pitiful as it sounds.
PM: So why’d you stop?
DS: My misanthropy kicked in something vicious. My goal was to make enough money to where I could not work for a few years and remove myself from society. So once we finished Final Occasion, I was done. I traveled for about two years straight, came back and moved out of LA, which is probably my only regret, but I had to leave; if people caught me I wouldn’t have been left alone. I wanted solitude, absolute solitude. Hence why I’m damn near here in the woods. I hear nature, birds and stuff. It’s nice.
PM: Do you still keep up with what’s going on in the world?
DS: As much as I need too. I don’t really watch TV anymore, and the internet is dull. I’ve rekindled my love for reading, dived head first into crocheting and photography, finally learned how to play guitar. I cook. I actually enjoy the outdoors. I learned how to fish. So my life has been pretty good, but the fire has come back.
PM: You want to direct again?
DS: I am. I’ve been talking with some colleagues, old friends… A lot of people are pissed off at me, but we have some loose ends to tie up. *laughs* Um… we’re doing the Vainglorious reunion.
PM: No way!
DS: Yep, we’re all older now, some of us have kids, been divorced, never did any of that. We’re going to explore our older age, how we’ve grown. I’m also doing an American Struggle sequel too, follow up with them. And I will have a new TV show debuting in the next year or so. That’s all I will say.
PM: So you’ve been writing, or is this just in the conception phase-
DS: Vainglorious is finished. We’ll start production soon.
PM: I’m excited, this is huge news.
DS: It feels good, I’m excited too.
PM: Thank you so much.
DS: No, thank you…..