T.R. Boyce Jr. has been working on sound for film and television since 1995, from “The Bourne Legacy” to the HBO series “Girls.” A few years ago, filmmaker and writer Andrew Mudge persuaded T.R. to make a film in Lesotho, a tiny country that resides completely inside the borders of South Africa. Together, director Andrew Mudge and producer T.R. Boyce Jr. made the film The Forgotten Kingdom, a beautiful story about a man who travels back to his homeland, and begins a journey to discover who he is.
I interviewed T.R. in the sculpture garden at the Walker Art Center where we talked about how making this film changed him. In this video, he draws a line of contrast between holding on and letting go, calculating and taking a leap, preoccupation and being present.
Producer T.R. Boyce Jr. reflects on taking a leap and making a film in Africa with director Andrew Mudge. Music by Karen Kopacz.
What is most significant to you about storyline of The Forgotten Kingdom?
Not an easy question…. I’d have to say the idea of shedding the calloused skin we build when we move away from the source of where our heart and soul should be. The quest to let go and let living in the present show us where we should be at that moment.
How has making this film changed the way that you think about life?
The short of it is to trust the now. Realizing that the world is going to move forward on its own path and that trying to control it, or setting it on ‘the right path,’ only limits the possibilities and most likely will frustrate me a bit. If I just get on the bus and see where it will take me, usually something better than I ever could have imagined will show up.
We talked a lot about the concept of taking a leap. How has this expanded your view of the world?
The biggest crevasse that opened up is the reality that the here and now, the present, is the happiest place to be. It’s easiest if I accept the past and am grateful for what’s happening right now…. Excitement for what may come next doesn’t happen when I fear it or try to predict it.
What was most challenging for you about making this film?
Overcoming my own fears and expectations… And I failed miserably while making the film. It only came to light in baby steps from the fact that production was always moving forward, whether I made a mistake or just let go and went with the flow.
Sometimes it seemed the pit was so deep and dark, but I had no time to reflect. I just had to move forward, do what was needed next, and it took the time in-between each shooting session to reflect and regroup. I look back now, stronger and with a clearer idea that that when I am in the moment of what I am doing, the right thing will come out of it all.
What surprised you about Africa? About Lesotho?
It was all surprising and new. I think about it now and it seems I had so many changing expectations, and that when I was there I had none. It seemed, at times, so foreign but also similar. We all put our pants on one leg at a time. People laughed, smiled and cried all the same and I saw all of them. For work, it was all about figuring out what each step would be to accomplish what was needed.
I guess if there was anything surprising, it was the outstanding beauty of both the land and the people. We may not all speak the same language but we all had the same goal.
What other projects have you worked on that have been close to your heart?
Wow another hard one.
• American Buffalo (My first movie set)
• Angels in America (where I met my wife)
• My senior degree project at RISD (No idea what I was doing but I was doing it)
• Love Letter, Passionata, Lift, Hi-Line (I realized films could be fun and like a family all in the same boat)
• My son and daughter… Best things Ive ever produced.
• My garden with my wife… Never thought Id be landlocked or gardening. I hated mowing the lawn as a kid… Go figure. Actually it is the thing that has taught me patience. Nothing grows over night and you just never really know what it will look like year to year.
The renovation of the farmhouse with my wife… Its amazing when you realize you share the same tastes, thoughts, ascetics with someone. In addition, the final result of something that lived only in concept… stunning.
How has making this film affected how you think about your career? Do you want to make more films?
It really has just made me trust to ask what the next right thing is to do and to realize that what may be next may not be what I think it is… I hope to make more films… I will continue to try to do so… and if its suppose to be then it will.
You spoke about starting a series of paintings of chairs in uncharacteristic settings. And that they come to you in dreams. What do you think this is about?
I don’t think I understand it yet. I think that’s part of the beauty of it all. Right now, in this moment, I think its more of a test for me to be willing. The idea of starting to paint or draw again is not the easiest of steps for me. It’s challenging for me to think about putting myself out there and exhibiting my inside thoughts to the world. In a weird way, I think the two chairs mirror my constant struggle to ask for help, not feel alone… no matter the environment. All in, I believe it’s the first line that I think is the hardest…. Once I start, my past track record shows it’s hard for me to stop but I have always struggled with the start, the first steps. I do believe more an more it will happen, I just can’t say when, and the reality is it will probably represent what is happening in my life when I do find the courage.
Ask me in a month.
What really matters?
Today I am seeing a shift. I see-saw more and realize that quality of life, being present in all I do, is more important than the ambition I have had in the past. Don’t get me wrong… I still am driving hard towards what I have believed is my future, but more often, if it doesn’t get done right now or in my “assumed” timeline, I realize and accept it will happen when it is suppose to and maybe not at all.
T.R. Boyce Jr.’s 3 Tips on Getting Outside of Your Comfort Zone and Connecting With People While Traveling
1. Realize you are not alone, or need to be alone, or are probably the first.
2. Ask for help.
3. If you fall down or fail, pick yourself back up and try a different way.
I know they might seem vague but they kind of apply to both. There are times where simple is best.