Trauma, Loss, and The Quest for Healing: An Interview with "Mourning Son" Director, Todd Newman

There is no such thing as closure – it’s never gonna not suck that this happened. But I think that [Dave’s] relationship to it has changed tremendously […] He’s got a different relationship with his mother.
— Todd Newman, Interview Extract
Dave Navarro and Todd Newman.  Photo Courtesy of  Vega Baby.

Dave Navarro and Todd Newman. Photo Courtesy of Vega Baby.

Dave Navarro stumps out his cigarette on the scorching LA pavement, takes a deep breath, and gets into the car; alongside him sits his best friend of 15 years, Todd Newman – a true brother-from-another-mother, and father of his Godchildren.

Mourning Son   movie poster featuring artwork by Aneta and Samppa Von Cyborg.

Mourning Son movie poster featuring artwork by Aneta and Samppa Von Cyborg.

They head straight for 1655 Greenfield, Los Angeles, not expecting anything in particular. Perhaps it was brave, a good way to kick-start the filming and get the ideas flowing. Or perhaps it was simply excited naïvety that brought them there first. In any case, the first stop on the journey of this documentary was 1655 Greenfield, apartment No. 16, former home of Constance Navarro and her young son, Dave. From 1983 onwards, perhaps better known as the crime scene of Constance and Susan Jory’s murder. The effect of arriving at the crime scene, a quarter of a century later, was, needless to say, an overwhelming mixture of emotions and thoughts. It was certainly a hardcore place to start, at least psychological speaking, though it undoubtedly helped to kickstart this, not only artistic journey, but emotional journey above all.

I got to learn, for myself too, […] the strength that [Dave] had. You start to see someone in a very different light when you are going down this road and you are trying to create art from it as well.
— Todd Newman, Interview Extract

Todd and Dave, both dedicated cinephiles, had decided to shoot a movie long before the subject-matter, or even genre, was settled on. Luckily, rock stars don’t tend to be short on stories all too often – though I doubt many were prepared for this one. Constance Navarro, alongside her best-friend, Sue Jory, were murdered in cold blood on March 3rd, 1983, by a bitter and clearly deranged ex-boyfriend of Connie’s, John Riccardi. It was thus decided, their documentary was to follow this story; though, perhaps more pertinently, follow Dave’s footsteps in their journey.

Mourning Son  Private Screening, December 1, 2015.  Photo courtesy of  Frank Argueta. Check out our review    here   .

Mourning Son Private Screening, December 1, 2015. Photo courtesy of Frank Argueta. Check out our review here.

Of course, there was the initial difficulty of mentally transforming from friend to director – whilst remaining friend foremost of all, Todd also had to have a “director persona” on hand at all times, which can’t be easy. Then again, there was never any doubt as to who would shoot the movie – as tragic as the case was, there could have been no one more suitable for this than Todd – quick-witted and funny, he’s also excellent at knowing where to draw the line and keep things serious. Which is exactly what you need when you’re filming a documentary centered around, well, death. The chemistry between Dave and Todd, as ever, is perfect throughout the movie, and injects just the right amount of humor needed to lift it up a little and push the story-line forward. Despite the obvious dark and immutably heavy undertones, the movie is littered with positive, and at times even laugh-out-loud, moments. The film manages to be interesting, educational, dramatic and unsurprisingly heart-wrenching, as well as funny and entertaining. For those truly seeking a deep message, something to help spread awareness and support, it is undoubtedly present throughout the movie: put in simple terms, two women were killed due to a severe case of domestic violence, and their deaths should not go unheard. With this movie, I truly believe that Dave and Todd have managed to highlight something that should never be forgotten, and shared as widely as possible. Whether poor or rich, black or white, male or female, domestic violence spans time, location, money and people. This is just one step in supporting thousands of women. Let’s just hope that this has been cleansing for Dave and his family more than anyone else. No one can keep fear and pain bottled up for that long and not have scars to show for it.

[…] We realized kinda half-way through, like, wow, this story might be able to help people…it seems like it’s doing that, people are really connecting; you don’t necessarily need to be a victim of this type of tragedy to relate to this film […] it is, in essence, about loss and finding ways to make your way back to that and try and face fears.
— Todd Newman, Interview Extract

And now for the interview, enjoy!

For anyone who hasn’t seen the documentary yet, head over to your TV set and get on DirecTV/InDemand; alternatively, check out iTunes, Vimeo OnDemand, or GooglePlay!


Aaaand, of course, there’s always our awesome Top 5 (not always 5) section. This list should keep you tied down for a good few weeks!

Todd Newman’s Top (-5-) 35 Movies

       In order of categories:

Night of The Hunter (1955, Charles Laughton)
The Man with The Golden Arm (1955, Otto Preminger)
Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956, Robert Wise)
On The Waterfront (1954, Elia Kazan)

Playtime (1967, Jacques Tati)
In Cold Blood (1967, Richard Brooks)
Shock Corridor (1963, Samuel Fuller)
Gigot (1962, Gene Kelly)
The Wild Bunch (1969, Sam Peckinpah)
The Hustler (1961, Robert Rossen)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Stanley Kubrick)
Everything Stanley Kubrick’s Made
Everything John Cassavetes’ Made

All the President’s Men (1976, Alan J. Pakula)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975, Sidney Lumet)
French Connection (1971, William Friedkin)
Three Days of the Condor (1975, Sydney Pollack)
The Education of Sonny Carson (1974, Michael Campus)
Capricorn One (1978, Peter Hyams)
The Anderson Tapes (1971, Sidney Lumet)
The Deer Hunter (1978, Michael Cimino)
Taxi Driver (1976, Martin Scorsese)
Every Martin Scorsese Movie
Heaven Can Wait (1978, Warren Beatty, Buck Henry)

White Dog (1982, Samuel Fuller)
Ordinary People (1980, Robert Redford
The Right Stuff (1983, Philip Kaufman)
All John Hughes Movies

Recent Movies
Ed Wood (1994, Tim Burton)
City of God (2004, Fernando Meirelles, Katia Lund)
Man Bites Dog (1992, Remy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel, Benoit Poelvoorde)

Foreign Movies
Seven Samurai (1954, Akira Kurosawa)
Wild Strawberries (1957, Ingmar Bergman)
The Harder They Come (1972, Perry Henzel)




Posted on April 15, 2016 and filed under SUM2.