Boise Poet/Filmmaker J. Reuben Appelman Picks Next Projects


There’s no rest for the wicked. Nor, so I’m told, for the artist.

“Just about every creative person I know is working on three projects at once,” says J. Reuben Appelman, a Boise-based poet and screenwriter. “The creative impulse takes you in different directions.”

Appelman, who recently completed the feature length film Person of Interest with director Gregory Bayne, is already hard at work on his next two projects. While Bayne and Appelman haven’t finished submitting POI to festivals and showcases, certain opportunities have recently taken the collaborators in different directions. After an encounter with UFC athlete Jens Pulver, Bayne committed to documenting the fighter’s return from retirement, a two-month obligation. Appelman will be producing the documentary—currently titled Driven—but will also begin shooting his directorial debut, a film entitled I Love You Or Something.

“Not to sound high-falutin' about the whole thing,” Appelman says “ ... but there is something to be said for recognizing the right project when it happens and jumping on it.”

For Appelman, it’s an exercise in on-the-fly filmmaking, with a partially improvised script and short-notice shooting schedule—basically when Bayne is available to handle the camera. And he’s doing it with no budget.

“It's proving a point to myself as well as to people who say you can't do anything for nothing,” he says. “The vast majority of people in the film community think that you need certain elements to make a movie. All I would imagine you need is a story.”

That story, which Appelman calls a “romantic dramedy,” follows a college English professor and family man who is engaged with one of his students. As the protagonist navigates the turbulent waters of his love life, he simultaneously seeks to match his artistic expectations with the reality of a flotsam-flooded market.

Appelman, who works as an adjunct professor at Boise State and currently has representation for his first novel with a New York agency, seems to have a lot on his mind, but more on his plate. So why this film? Why now?

“Without getting too detailed, I'm traversing that emotional landscape myself at the moment,” Appelman says. “It’s what's going on with me right now, so it feels like now the time is right. Film is a way of interacting with the world that you don't get to do with poetry. You're so isolated with poetry. Sometimes I feel like I have to interact on a larger scale.”

But I Love You Or Something isn’t just a personal purging for Appelman—who describes the freedom of no planned budget as “spiritually clean"—but a story he believes can impact a larger audience.

“I don't intend to make a movie that nobody sees,” he says. “I think this is a movie that touches everyone in my approximate age bracket. It's mostly written for 30-something men and for the women they find themselves involved with. Sometimes we want to be huge. Sometimes we want to be isolated. Underneath it all what we really want is to be able to exist in what we do, in how we love and how we survive our circumstances.”

I Love You Or Something will be shot in and around Boise during the next three months.

  • Gregory Bayne