Unlike many of the rest of the projects in a director's career, first films are almost always a labor of love – an artistic or professional dream fulfilled via grit, determination, and a maxed-out credit card or two. Perhaps appropriately, then, Paul Gordon's filmmaking debut is not only itself a passion project, but it's about one: in The Happy Poet, Bill (played by Gordon) has a degree in Creative Writing, but aspires to open a health-food restaurant. That Gordon not only wrote and directed the film but stars in it speaks to the consuming drive he had to see his story realized on the big screen, as it will be shown this week at Austin's South By Southwest Film Festival.

Cinematical reached out to Gordon via email with some questions about his fledgling film. In addition to talking about his affection and enthusiasm for the film, which is a case study in deadpan humor, Gordon explained why he took on so many different roles himself, and offered some insights both on why his protagonist Bill, and he himself needed to bring their dreams to life on the big screen.

Cinematical: A lot of movies about young, ambitious people focus on goals that are arguably more self-indulgent – they have a degree in economics but they want to be a painter, for example. Talk about why it was important for him to start a business as opposed to, say, becoming a professional poet in 2010.