AND I MISS YOU LIKE A LITTLE KID is a short psychological drama displaying the spiraling and abusive domestic relationship of Jason and Clarissa in Covid-era Los Angeles from writer/director Benjamin Hosking that will premiere Saturday, June 11th for 'Dances With Films.' Inexperienced, depressive, and bisexual, Jason falls for the decade-older and beautifully strange Clarissa just before lockdown. She celebrates his sexual and emotional self-discovery, and soon she moves in with him. Shortly after entrenching herself in his apartment, she begins to flip on him, becoming a manipulative and emotionally abusive partner. After Jason uses self-harm to cry for help, Clarissa blackmails and gaslights Jason into an impossible situation, leading him to decide who he is and who he wants to be.
Benjamin Hosking is a the writer-director and is based in Los Angeles. His work explores mental health, queer sexuality, and emotional vulnerability themes. As one of the first pre-adolescent children diagnosed and successfully treated for bipolar and autism spectrum disorders, he applies his experiences of mental health to his psychological dramas and thrillers. Benjamin earned his MFA in directing from the AFI Conservatory in 2021. He was a 2019 recipient of Tufts University’s P.T. Barnum Young Alum in Entertainment Award. His AFI thesis film "And I Miss You Like A Little Kid" (https://www.andimissyoulikealittlekid.com/) shines a light on isolation and domestic abuse. Inspired by his own experience as a survivor, the film will release in 2022.
The film is fantastic! I completely enjoyed the short and the specific themes it explored. It's a film packed with emotional and psychological substance during a desolate time that the audience can definitely relate to. Also, the character of Jason (and his depression) is someone people can identify with during COVID. When Benjamin Hosking had a moment to stop he spoke with Gemma Magazine about "And I Miss You Like A Little Kid," the character of Jason, and much more. Let's get into it!
Absolutely enjoyed "And I Miss You Like a Little Kid." What inspired you to write and direct and when did you know you wanted to be a filmmaker?
Filmmaking came later to me than many of the friends I made at AFI. I grew up mostly reading books and wanted to be a novelist. I mainly took history and creative writing classes as an undergraduate, and I tried a screenwriting class on a whim. I wrote a short for it. I went to my instructor and asked how to find a director to make it with me. He looked at me and said, "You." So, I tried it, and I immediately became hooked. Film is the storytelling medium that is closest to feeling natural. That's exciting.
What types of stories are you drawn to? Would you say the main themes are isolation, domestic abuse, and mental illness for this film?
Much of my work explores the idea that people who hurt others are themselves hurting. I'm drawn to stories about the misunderstood and mistreated, who are often the same. "And I Miss You Like a Little Kid" deals with domestic abuse, isolation, and mental illness. It's also a film about the importance of family and having someone who can be there for you.
Can I ask you, are these telling parts of your own story during the pandemic?
My own experiences partially inspire the film as a survivor and those of other individuals trapped with their abusers during the pandemic. I drew on my story to give it specificity, but the stories of other survivors show its universality.
How would you describe Jason's personality? He is, of course, struggling with mental health issues; tell us about that journey with that character?
Jason has a severe case of depression, compounded by lockdown isolation. He's medicated, but he's also profoundly lonely, and that's not something that can be resolved with medication. His low self-esteem is how someone like Clarissa can take advantage of him. Throughout the film, he chooses who he is and what he deserves and stands up for himself and his worth.
Do you feel that you will always put a lot of your life experiences into your films?
To some extent, yes! Write what you know is a great place to start. Some of the best stories select parts of the writer's life and string them together in a way that creates meaning and emotion for an audience. I refer to this as "life selected." My subsequent work still contains an emotional part of me but is entirely fictional on a story level.
I wavered on Jason's feelings for Clarissa throughout the film. Did he love her?
He was fascinated with her, desperate for her, and bent over backward for her. But it wasn't real love. He thought he was in love. In reality, he was experiencing the honeymoon phases of the cycle of abuse. He stayed because he hoped that she could change into the idea of her in his head that he fell in love with.
Tell me about the ending (without giving it away); what inspired you for that choice?
I've got a great mom.
Are you currently working on a new film? What's next?
Yes! I am prepping my first feature to shoot in August in New England, where I grew up. It's a psychological thriller in the vein of Badlands, Gone Girl, and Joker.
Finally, who would be a dream to work with?
I'd love to work with Ann Dowd. Ann's work is phenomenal, on HBO and in Hereditary and The Handmaid's Tale. The gold standard is her ability to bring understanding and empathy to troubled characters doing horrific deeds. She was a powerhouse in HBO's The Leftovers, where I got the idea to cast Chris Zylka for Jason.
To keep up with Ben Hosking and his compelling films, you can follow him on his social media platform