Mike Sorrinni is an American writer, editor, historian and archivist. Coming from an army family he spent much of his life traversing the world before settling down in Indianapolis. Following high school he began a series of jobs ranging from bicycle builder to a Dominatrix’s assistant to ambulance driver. He then became an archivist and historian specializing in World War II’s European theater.
In 2009 Mike edited and produced a series of commercials for off broadway smash hit “Arias With A Twist” which earned him two Davey awards and a Telly award. After this he transitioned into writing finishing his first screenplay, a period drama titled ‘The Postcard’ which was a finalist in the 2013 Emerging Screenwriters Screenplay competition. He soon followed this with “Behind The Wall”, a top 100 finalist selection in the 2015 Hollywood Screenplay contest. Both scripts have been official selections in several film festivals.
First and foremost, tell us something about your obsession with war. What is it about the war, the phantoms surrounding it that makes it an interesting prospect for writers?
I feel it stems from war is never clean cut, and there is so much more to what’s going on than just the battles. You can read about them till the day is done but when you look at the people who fought them, the determination of keeping some semblance of humanity in the most trying of times gives plenty for writers to work with.
Tell us about a few war movies where you’ve immensely admired the screenplay. What is your opinion on Terrence Malick’s ‘The Thin Red Line’.
La Rafle written by Roselyne Bosch has always been one I admired, to be able to capture so many different aspects of the round up and to show the resiliency of the Jews through it all is just amazing. Another film I greatly admire is My Boy Jack written by David Haig, the way he was able to show how the war affected the family was heart wrenching while being able to show the horrors of war. The Thin Red Line was an excellent movie in my opinion, the Pacific theater was an entirely different ballgame from the European theater with its own horrors that you could not compare to anything else. Terrence Malick was able to show the effects the war and the stress from it had on the officers as well as the soldiers they were tasked to lead.
Could you explain to us, the philosophy of a ‘wall’, how they veil the dark elements from one’s own consciousness? Are these walls really different from the external ones? Also why choose a word like behind? Is that an indicator of an act(s) committed in darkness?
With a wall, be it physical or emotional, you are able to give yourself a buffer of sorts. To me it is no different than an external one, at the end of the day it gives you a comfort of protection. As for the choice of behind, given the politics of the era I think it’s an apt word to describe the situation going on at the time.
The protagonist in your script appears to be in a state of perpetual tension. Do you think this stems from a fear of alienation?
I feel some of it does. Berlin was a unique environment where you had to have a high clearance to be stationed at. On top of which you have the stress of being in the most volatile area during the Cold War. Alienation amongst your unit would have had widespread consequences both to his time in Berlin as well as the service.
How important do you think are conversations in a narrative? Should these conversations be a blend of levity and seriousness?
There are many narratives that could use the conversations to help move the plot along as well as giving the audience a better understanding of the background of what’s going on. Some of the conversations would be perfect with the mix, the levity easily could be used to try to keep calm in the face of adversity.
Ideology plays a vital role in your script. A factor that governs an individual and in turn a nation, a collective consciousness. Do you believe the spectre of ideology ever abandons an individual?
I don’t believe it ever fully abandons a person. History has shown time and time again that somethings just don’t leave the human conscious.
Hannah Arendt talks about the banality of evil in her book “Eichmann in Jerusalem”. How significant is evil in your narrative and how has evil turned into something almost necessary and hackneyed to the extent of appearing as the refuge of the modern man?
I don’t believe there is too much true evil in my narrative as much as it is showing the specters of the past and how they’re dealt with. Evil is a part of human nature whether we like it or not, except now I feel there is more being done to address it.
The action towards the end of the narrative projects a battle between good and evil, between death and life, between hope and despair. Do you think an individual must fight these battles individually and collectively in order to completely understand the meaning of life, of existence?
I definitely think being able to fight those battles will help in understanding life and existence. If you are unable to see the other side of life, no matter how frightening it is you wouldn’t truly understand life.
Do you believe Germany is still haunted by the phantoms of it’s past? Germany has been fighting these spectres collectively. Do you see light at the end of the tunnel?
Unfortunately, given what I have seen in the news I believe Germany is still struggling with these phantoms. It seems to be getting better, and I will forever remain hopeful that they will get it all worked out.