Justin, we will finally see “Absent” in Bulgaria! What happens to you in the past few years and how exactly did the film come to Bulgaria, who managed to realise the screening?
First of all, I’m SO stoked that the film is finally making its way to Bulgaria! It’s been a long time coming and I couldn’t be happier about it. A lot of things have happened over the past few years. Since ‘Absent’, I released a pair of new films and am currently working on my third, which would be my fifth overall. Absent has continued to touch many lives and is widely used as a teaching and counseling tool all over the world. That is a wonderful testament to the power of the film, and I hope it has the same affect in Sofia! A wonderful man by the name of Boris Kolev has been valiantly championing the effort to get the film in Bulgaria for the past couple of years, and I’m so glad to see it come to fruition. And, should this screening go well, my hope is that there will be many more there and that I’ll be able to attend.
What were the reactions in the US after the release of the film? Was there any feedback from the people affected by the problems involved?
There was a massive amount of reaction to the film, and it was completely positive, which is rare when taking on such a difficult topic. From the people I’ve met and been contacted by over the past few years, the clear common denominator in their comments is that it opened their eyes to things they’d never even considered before, thus changing their entire way of thinking, their entire perspective. To be able to completely redirect the trajectory of a person’s life through a film is a very special feeling.
Nowadays many children, even with both parents grow up to be more lonely while surfing in the digital jungle. Basing on your experience with a generation that suffers from a lack of parent in another form, how do you think this would affect the children nowadays?
If I understand your question correctly, that lack of parental engagement is more devastating at this point in history than, maybe, any other time. Children are exposed to so much more at such an earlier age with the advance of technology, that they need guidance more than ever before. The material that they have access to now, including pornography (which is the topic of my next film) is so much more advanced than their young minds are ready for, it’s almost like putting a six year old behind the wheel of a Ferrari and expecting them to manage on the highway. However, it’s clear that someone is going to get hurt, no one more so than the child.
Do you allow your children to use smart phones / tablets and do you let them use it continuously surfing Facebook?
I do not. They are given ipads at school, but that is closely regulated. They do have smart phones, but I have their passwords and do regular checks to make sure that they are not abusing them, checking sites they shouldn’t or having inappropriate conversations via text with their friends. Some might say that’s fanatical parenting, but it’s not. It’s doing my job as a father to protect their hearts and minds. Their young spirits. The more they prove their trustworthiness, the more trust they get. That’s how parenting should be done, and, frankly, my kids have grown to appreciate it as they see some of their friends struggle due to a lack of parental engagement.
What type of father are you? Tell us how do you spend a normal weekend with your family?
That’s a great question! It’s just my son, my daughter and I, and we have an unbelievably close relationship. We spend a lot of time doing things together, be it playing sports outdoors, watching movies, working on homework, rough housing (they attack me ALL the time!), playing cards and board games, playing the guitar, talking about books or films, things of that sort. I also take them to a lot of cultural events, concerts, sporting events, etc. I like to expand their minds through life experiences. We cook dinner together and sit down for family meals, no television allowed (but we DO listen to classic rock and talk about the artists). My son is now in high school and my daughter in junior high, so they come to me with issues that they face daily and we talk about them. They also have their chores that need to be done, which all kids hate. Ha ha! We just have a great time together.
With so many trips all over the world, do you become an abscent father for your children? How do they accept your absence?
Also a great question and a fair one. I have joint custody of them with their mother, 50/50. I have them for a week, then she for a week. So, the vast majority of my travel is done on the week when they are with their mom. If not, they typically join me on the road. Otherwise, on the rare occasions that I’m gone longer than a week, say on an international venture, our relationship is so strong and deeply rooted, they don’t see it as me being gone. They see it as me going off to battle, to do what I do to help others. They know they are loved, they know I’m engaged and I think it inspires them to see their father still out there in the fight for good, if you will.
Besides Metallica, what is your favorite music? Do you listen to other heavy bands?
I actually have a very wide spectrum of music that I enjoy. Undoubtedly, Metallica is, has been and always will by my #1. Having said that, I listen to everything from other heavy artists, alternative, soul, older country, modern folk, tons of classic rock. Some of the artists that come to mind as favorites: mumford & sons, tool, james brown, merle haggard, willie nelson, genesis/phil collins, gladys knight, men at work, black sabbath, bad company, journey, ennio morricone, fleetwood mac, I could go on, and on, and on. Music is a daily staple in our lives and it’s always going somewhere in the house and in the car.
When you have free time do you love to read books and who is your favorite author?
I have to admit, I’m much more of a movie fiend, being that they are such a huge part of my life. However, I do enjoy reading. My likes are all over the map. The last book I read was ‘the picture of dorian gray’ by oscar wilde. And there is always a bible very nearby.
Do you keep up with your relationship with James? Ask him when the new album will be released, PLEASE!
Ha ha! I do talk to him from time to time. I’d say once a month or so. I’ll see what I can do! 😉
Do you know how James has managed with his anger towards his father and how he was able to forgive him?
That’s really something that is personal to james and we’ve never discussed it. One thing I do know about him that I feel confident in saying is that he knows himself very well and it allows him to see issues clearly, confront them, deal with them, bury them, grieve for them and then move on. Much like myself, he’s not one to dwell.
Who is the last concert that you went and how was it? And when did you last saw Metallica live?
My last concert was about a month ago and I saw merle haggard. It was fantastic. He really is a piece of country music history and I wanted the kids to see him before he’s gone. We had the coolest moment there. I was telling them that it was like getting to see johnny cash in concert and, literally, just as I was explaining that to them, merle started playing ‘folsom prison blues’. My last metallica concert was in may, at the rock in rio event in las vegas.
Did you like them? Where were you in the audience or on stage?
It was metallica, so it’s always good. The set list was great. The only down side was that I dropped some serious coin for vip tickets, but the vip tent was about half a mile from the stage, so james and the boys looked like ants playing ‘master of puppets’. On the upside, the food in the vip tent was great. Oh, and the men’s urinals had high definition monitors above them, so there was that…. 😉
Send a wish to the people in Bulgaria who will watch the movie.