Christopher Richardson made a film about his own deepest regret, and gained some closure in the process. Now, he’s looking at the possibility of making a TV show in which he helps others do the same.
Christopher Richardson (in blue) during a filming of “Regret,” in which he explores the idea of regrets and if there might be a positive side to them, starting with one that’s haunted him for 25 years. — Submitted photo
Richardson’s documentary “Regret” screened at the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax earlier this fall, where it was rated Highest Audience Buzz of all the films in the festival.
On Tuesday, it will debut at 9:30 p.m. local time on the Documentary Channel.
For 25 years, Richardson was haunted by a valedictory speech he gave as a graduate of University of King’s College in Halifax. Irreverent and over the top, he included lots of drinking references — and even chugged a beer at the end of it — and jokes about vomit and nudity.
As soon as he returned to his seat, people began telling him how he had embarrassed himself and his peers, as well as the university.
There’s a tape of the speech, which went into a box in his parents’ basement. It wasn’t until he made this documentary that he pulled it out and actually watched it, but the memory of what he had said and his fellow students’ reactions to it had remained, turning into an internal voice which caused him anxiety every time he had to speak in public.
When Richardson was given the chance to have a do-over of the speech at his 25-year reunion, he started thinking about regrets in general, and what they say about a person.
Making the film, he invited ordinary people to share their regrets with him on camera — they lament about everything from education to family and relationships to not saying or doing one last thing to a loved one who has died.
“We like to tell people if you have regrets you’ll want to see the film. If you don’t have regrets, you definitely want to see the film,” Richardson said.
“Even people who say they don’t have them, I’ve got a pretty sneaking suspicion that they just don’t want to talk about it.”
After “Regret” screened at the film festival, a lot of people wanted to talk with Richardson about how it resonated with them, and they wanted to tell him their own biggest laments.
He’s now looking at transitioning the documentary into a TV series, and is in talks with a couple of companies out of Los Angeles about the possibility.
He’s also struck a worldwide distribution deal with a distributor based in Toronto.
People generally look at regrets as negative; in the film, Richardson explores the idea that the regrets themselves are neutral, and it’s only the lens through which we view them that makes them cringe-worthy.
Richardson’s hoping people will watch the film and take a look at their own life, and the things they should do.
“It’s important to take stock of where you are and your regrets really say something about what your goals are,” Richardson said. “When we started the film, I wasn’t sure what you regret more, things you did or things you didn’t do. What I didn’t realize is it starts to change as you get older. Earlier, you regret things that you did, but as you get older it totally flips and that’s what haunts people.”