PURE O – Extraordinary story of one man’s crippling struggle with OCD ‘Dillon Tucker’ Director Interview

PURE O (nominated for the Grand Jury award at SXSW) is an acclaimed, character-driven drama of one man’s struggles with a crippling, rare form of obsessive compulsive disorder, and its devastating effects on himself and his friends and family.

Featuring warm and natural performances by accomplished theatre actors Daniel Dorr (20th Century Woman) and Hope Lauren (CW’s The Republic of Sarah) – who bring a singular chemistry to the film as a couple in real life – and Landry Bender (Best Friends Whenever, Hulu’s Looking for Alaska, The Sitter, Fuller House).

Inspired by writer/director/musician Dillon Tucker’s remarkable true story, and nominated for the Grand Jury award at 2023 SXSW. We sat down with the Director for an exclusive one on one chat.


(S) Stephen: ‘PURE-O’ it’s a great film, by the way.

(DT) Dillon: Thank you.

(S) Stephen: Really captivating, really moving, visually stunning, just really, really good. So how did the how did the concept for the film come about?

(DT) Dillon: So the film is semi autobiographical, and it’s based on a period in my life where I was being diagnosed with OCD late onset. It was later in life. As I was looking around the landscape of mainstream media, I just realized after I went through my own journey with it into recovery that I just I didn’t see an accurate depiction of what this looks like in the media.

After some time and some thought I decided I I was going tell my story and and get it out there, and, you know, here we are now.

(S) Stephen: I mean, it’s depicted in such an honest way, tell me a bit about the casting process? Was there quite an intense casting process or were you did you pretty much have the have the actors in mind before before the movie even got made?

(DT) Dillon: I had a lot of actors in mind before, but what I really wanted to go for authenticity and and naturalism with the film and sort of docu-realism to really show people what this really looked like and the reality of it.

So because of that, I made the creative decision to mix in actors and non actors. So, there’s people in the therapy groups that are just real life OCD sufferers who are non actors and then some of the addiction and recovery scenes, I have real life counsellor’s that aren’t actors. So I kinda mix them side by side with actors to kind of achieve that effect. so that was part of the casting.

So I knew also with the misunderstood nature of OCD that having some people like that on set would be an amazing resource for other actors to to be able to you know, pick their brains and to understand a little bit more about what OCD really looks like.

(S) Stephen: Definitely. I mean, what I really liked about the film is the idea that the partner, followed the journey, but, obviously, she had her own complexities as well. And I like the fact that it was I feel like she helped him a lot, but she also had issues which she kept from him in order to please him and I feel like sometimes the issue is as well with with OCDs and these, I guess mental health issues is that it often is obviously, the person going through the trauma, it’s very tough on them, but it also is the partner who ends up absorbing a lot of that and I think a lot of that doesn’t get seen, which is what I really felt was tapped into. You know?

(DT) Dillon: I love that you picked up on that because that was a really specific choice that I made setting out writing the film was that I wanted to not just show the one person’s experience, but I wanna show how mental felt mental health really affects everybody around the person, you know, and how that affects them, and how it how it transmutes and, changes the relationship with those people after, and how it affects them, and how often when somebody’s going through mental health, the people around them kind of don’t feel the agency to be able to show their own issues and yeah how they feel like they need to bury those things and, how does that affects the relationship? Because eventually, those things have to come out. Right? So how does how does that work?

What does that look like? and I also wanted the film to work on a certain level. If somebody has a loved one with OCD, you know, they can watch the film not just to see what that sufferer is experiencing, but they could probably get an idea too of how it’s going to affect their lives and what they can expect.

(S) Stephen: Definitely!

What challenges did you come across when making the movie? Did you come across many challenges, or did you find it quite smooth sailing?

(DT) Dillon: Uh, no. I mean, it’s indie filmmaking at its finest. So plenty plenty of roadblocks along the way and hurdles. But, yeah, we had a really small dedicated team. Um, this was a film that was not just personal to me.

I think I would venture to say that it became really personal for a lot of people involved, because it doesn’t just deal with OCD there’s a lot of other issues at play here, addiction and grief and you know there’s other things covered off in the film that even if you’ve never experienced OCD, I mean, I wanted it to just be a compelling film period, full stop, not a compelling mental film. So I think there’s enough in there that it became really personal. I think there’s a lot of people in the cast and crew that had very personal connections to different aspects of the film and so that helped get through hurdles. You mentioned locations and hurdles with locations, I mean, those things happen on every film shoot, you know. In terms of it all being said and done, uh, this was a pretty smooth process in the sense that, uh, everybody believed in the script from the very beginning. It made the it made the financing raise, you know, pretty swift and yeah, all said and done, this film came together pretty quickly.

(S) Stephen: I I come from an acting background myself. I’m an actor. I I work as a producer and an actor. So, just just watching the movie, it seemed very emotionally driven. How how many takes were there to get each scene? There’s a lot of emotion there. Was it quite a fast moving film to make, or did you have to cut and have a lot quite a lot of scenes? That’s quite a lot of takes for each scene. How did that how did that work?

Because it I can imagine it being quite a a draining movie to make only because the emotion felt so raw and surreal. And what what was that like?

(DT) Dillon: I think it was a mixture. I think it’s a a scene by scene basis, but, actually, I would say the opposite for this film. A lot of the really emotional stuff, we made the creative decision to try to shoot it to camera so that we could shoot more quickly and that we could off and also create that atmosphere on set where, you know, when everybody’s being filmed at the same time, everybody has to bring it versus one one actor being off cam camera and so creating that immediacy, it was almost like recording music to tape or something like that.

It was like, even though we were shooting digitally, it created heightened stakes. There’s a climatic scene in the film that’s one of my favourite that I I won’t say which one, but, I mean, we shot it in one take so I just think that it depends on the scene. And then there was other scenes where I wanted to do a a lot more takes to sort of create the marathon effect for the actors in the scene because for whatever reason, I felt like it. I think actors work differently, and you said you’re an actor yourself.

You can understand actors, need more takes to sort of warm up into it, and other actors sort of kind of do it right away, and then they start to peter off. So Yeah I think it I think it depends on the actor you’re working with.

When you’re directing, it’s just like managing anything. Right? You need to manage everybody differently. You wouldn’t if you had 10 employees, you wouldn’t manage them all the same. You have to Yeah.

But I think in general, I I think you’d be really surprised actually with some of the really big hefty emotional scenes. We actually shot those faster than some of the other scenes because again, we were a swift and nimble indie production, but we were able to shoot to camera for some of those, and I kinda pushed for it creatively so that we could kind of create that effect that I was talking about.

(S) Stephen: what made you get into filmmaking? Was there a movie out there growing up that you were like, right. This is what I want to do.

DT) Dillon: I’ve always been a huge cinephile, and I went to drama school as well as an actor and so I started out there but before that, I’ve always been a writer. I did music as a teenager, and I’m still doing music. So I’ve always been drawn and compelled to the arts and creativity.

Huge cinephile. I mean, there’s so many. I can’t I can’t label it to one experience, but I was a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan and I remember my mother bought me an Alfred Hitchcock box set of tapes when I was a kid. I remember and they were the early stuff, a lot of the British stuff, like, The 39 Steps and films like that.

I remember really connecting to that. I became very obsessed with James Dean and Rebel Without A Cause.

I was always gravitating towards classic film even as a kid in the early nineties. And then, obviously the nineties film movement became a huge thing. I remember the film City of God. I remember when I saw that film in the theater, it just having a massive impact. I think I went and saw it about 5 times in the movie theater, and that was the first film that I was just, like, obsessed with and some of those and Chinatown and New Hollywood cinema. In general, seventies cinema has been the most formative for me in terms of my creative path.

(S) Stephen: Okay. I was gonna ask you what film there a movie out there that you’d wish you’d made? But I’m guessing it’d probably get a side of City of God, I’m guessing, because you you tapped into

DT) Dillon: Oh God. Sure. I mean, City of God. Absolutely. Yeah.

I I’d say Chinatown. Chinatown’s kind of stuck with me.

You know, different films, I think, hits you generationally, just like songs and music. I think depending on what age you’re at and what point of life you’re at, films kind of hit you different. But for me, Chinatown is one that has just, uh, been there for every every step of life. It still still just holds up and hits the same. So I’d say Chinatown.

(S) Stephen: What advice would you have for up and coming filmmakers?

DT) Dillon: My main point of advice would be to focus on writing because writing is everything. Whenever there’s a problem in a scene or a problem, 9 times out of 10, it’s it comes down to the writing, and I think that if you you know, it’s not mutually exclusive, but I think that if you wanna be a director that you have to at least attempt to write, and you have to understand that process, and you have to get into it. So I would just say to write and to focus on story. I find that even starting in my generation a little younger is that it’s obviously a visual medium and peep but things come down to stories, humans.

Whatever medium it’s going be, you have to focus on the story and I think writing and performance is the main alchemy of cinema, even though it’s such a visual art form. I would say focus on performances and focus on writing. The audience will forgive a lot of the production elements in a film, but the those are the lifeblood of cinema.

(S) Stephen: Fantastic. Thank you so much. How can the guys at home find out a bit more about the movie, about yourself, about your projects, things you’ve got coming up.

DT) Dillon: We have an Instagram handle that’s pure_ 0_movie that you can follow and see all the updates.

The film is out now! April 12th, here in the US and Canada, uh, on all digital platforms to rent and buy buy Amazon, Apple, uh, Google Play, etcetera and we do have a worldwide deal.

Eventually, hopefully, throughout the year and moving forward, it will move into the UK where you’re at and other foreign territories that, hopefully, everybody will be able to find it.

(S) Stephen: Amazing. Thank you so much. Again, congratulations on such a great movie. Very captivating. Really enjoyed it, and we will make sure we follow you on socials as well.

Thank you so much for joining me.

Friday, April 12 - Digital release on major platforms
Territories: US, Canada, UK
More info: https://gooddeedentertainment.com/pure-o/