PJ Norton is a filmmaker and photographer based in New York, NY. Film credits include Big Stone Gap, Killing Kennedy, and AMC’s Turn: Washington’s Spies. Directing credits include The Rose of Jericho (Best Director, VCU First Cut Film Festival), Take Me Home (Audience Choice, James River Shorts), and Maybe Tomorrow. He is currently studying screenwriting and directing in the graduate film program at New York University. http://www.pjnorton.com
When I was 19, I fell in love for the first time. The relationship was rewarding and amazing in so many ways, but after almost three years, it was time for it to end. We had been living in different states for over a year, and neither of us was ready to make a serious commitment. We were both young, and we wanted (needed) to see what else was out there. So…
One night in his apartment, we came up with a plan for the perfect break up (did I mention we were young?). We chose a date (February 17th) that made the most sense given our social commitments and travel plans, and we decided to remain a couple up until that day. And then ….it would be over. A clean break. I would get in my white Kia Spectra (may she rest in peace), hop on interstate 95, and we would no longer be a couple. It was a great plan. In theory. I’ll spare everyone the details of what actually happened that night, but suffice is to say it was a memorable evening to say the least.
When I started grad school at NYU, I had been wanting to explore aspects of that night in a film for a long time. However, each time I attempted to write about it, I found that I was too close to the experience to see it clearly. So I waited. I made other things. Then, almost five years later, I decided I finally had enough distance to revisit the experience. And here we are.
“Expiration Date” tells the story about the last night in a couple’s relationship. It’s about the end of their relationship, yes, but it’s also about the love that brought them together in the first place. It was important for me that neither character was portrayed as a villain but rather two humans struggling to navigate the shifting dynamics of a very complicated situation. It was also important for me to tell a gay love story in which sexual orientation was part of the given circumstances and not the central conflict. I believe it’s important to portray the struggles that members of the LGBTQ+ community face because of who we are, but I also think it’s important to portray the everyday triumphs and struggles that we share with all of humankind. So with that in mind, I present “Expiration Date” not as a gay love story but simply a love story (where yes, they’re GAY. AS. F#%K.).