His newest feature I Origins, starring Michael Pitt, plays with the relationship between the science and spirituality that surrounds the work of a scientist and the loss of a woman he loved. In a recent article in Below the Line, Cahill talked about his process, irony, and his fascination with the human eye.
For Cahill, it was very important to tell the story in a way that was sincere without losing an audience. “We’ve been living in a post-modern ironic era for some time now, about 30 years, since Warhol, and it permeates films too,” he said. “Somehow we’ve landed in the land of irony where irony defines this generation. It’s very cool, a bit cold, funny, but it makes it very difficult to do sincere stuff without getting pegged as pretentious or a little too earnest. In doing this movie, I’m conscious of the fact that we’re making big statements about the human spirit, big things about love. I like sincerity, but it’s dangerous because you can get laughed at. It can get cheesy. And yet, that’s where the real stuff lives.”
The idea for I Origins emerged from Cahill’s curiosity about the power the human eye holds. “When you look into someone’s eyes, for some people, you feel as if you’ve known them for centuries,” mentioned Cahill. “I wanted to understand that. And the eye has been so fascinating throughout human history. The eye as an organ is something that is unique just to you, me, and everybody…It just seemed like a really wonderful canvas to tell the story about.”
Wearing many hats in the process helped Cahill to really look at the whole picture while shooting the film. “To me [directing is] one brushstroke of a paintbrush. When I’m directing, I’m thinking of the edit constantly. That’s how I can choose what shots, because I know how they’re going to cut together, what we need to cover it,” he said. (Below the Line)