Today at uni I shared my idea for the film shoot I’m preparing for this Saturday. Chris and Fran have very kindly agreed to act in the film. They are going to play a psychotherapist called Howard (Chris) and a client called Ali (Fran). I’m going to use a DSLR to shoot them sitting in deckchairs inside the bandstand on Brighton seafront.
Deckchairs symbolise the idea of psychotherapy as taking time out from ordinary life. This occurs on holiday too, which the deckchair usually symbolises. Holidays are supposed to be relaxing but, often, in reality they can be stressful with relationship dynamics getting in the way of the stress relief that holidays are supposed to allow.
Psychotherapy also involves relationship dynamics in the way the client transfers emotional drama from family relationships onto the therapist, and the therapist counter transfers. In a safe, boundaried space these transferences can be observed and talked about, leading to release from acting out the family dramas. The bandstand represents the boundaried space necessary for the relationship to do the work.
The bandstand is also a place where, traditionally, a band would play music. Each member would contribute to the whole, creating a sound that would be impossible without each other. There is a possibility that I will ask the actors to sing their parts.
Howard is a patient and understanding psychotherapist with knowledge of many different techniques. His ultimate belief, in line with Jung, is that it is the ability to drop technique that allows the therapist to be present with the client. Technique may arise during a session but it does not lead or control the session. Howard is very present with his clients, noticing without judging, what is. When he feels an emotional pull to judge he takes the occurrence to his supervisor to unpick what is going on for him. He is loving and kind to himself as well as to others. Howard is married.
Ali (used to be known as Alice) is seeking psychotherapy to deal with the painful judgement she feels from most people; she doesn’t know whether the judgement is really coming from others or whether she is transferring her own judgement onto them. She was sexually abused as a child by her uncle and feels her mother knew what was going on; whether this knowledge was conscious or subsconscious, she doesn’t know. Her relationship with her mother is currently strained. Despite numerous efforts to deepen the relationship with her mother and create some kind of satisfying connection, Ali feels it is unlikely this will ever happen. She feels abandoned by her mother and swings between anger and hurt, and nonchalance. She is hoping psychotherapy will allow her to release the emotional pull of the judgements and to enter into a romantic relationship eventually (she feels unable to co-create a healthy functional romantic relationship at present).
An edited version of Alice’s Adventures at Black Rock. It’s 2 minutes 30 seconds long and silent. The next step is to project it and film the project with 16mm black and white film.
I’ve been feeling unmotivated recently. On Friday I carried on looking at dictionary definitions of the words of the elements from my dream story. Then, as I went to bed, I realised I was feeling disconnected from it and didn’t care about it. I wrote a script and resolved to ask my friend, Louise, if she and her sons would be willing to be in the film. She said no. I was gutted because I love the script – I felt connected to it and passionate about it. The Fictions brief feels a very different project from the Place brief in which I made Alice’s Adventures at Black Rock; I was motivated from the start and had a strong idea that I committed to early on. However, when I wrote my journal about lack of motivation I realised that the Alice project changed quite a lot over time. It didn’t start off being so obviously about abuse. It was about smoking to begin with. Through talking with people to find out whether they could be involved and setting up meetings with those who wanted to be involved the project evolved. Although I had a detailed shot list for the designated days I wanted to film, the actual footage varied quite a lot from the plan. To break through my frustration and demotivation, I’ve texted a couple of friends to see whether they’re up for being in a film (script yet to be written but the idea is firm), emailed Matt Page at uni to find out the logistics of filming a projection of my last film with the 16mm Bolex camera and developing it so I can scratch it and mark it, and I’ll continue to work on the dictionary definitions of the words. I figure that I might as well work on all three until they fail and perhaps one of them will continue to fruition.
Stan Brakhage made an interesting point in the documentary about his life and work: the eye is incapable of doing a slow pan, like a camera on a tripod. Instead, it jumps to a new focus point. However, the rest of the environment stays in shot. So the difference between the camera lens and the eye lens is the yellow spot that sees clearly. The camera doesn’t have one of these yellow spots that enables the human eye to focus on a detail without zooming in. I wonder how I can achieve this with the DSLR? There’s no physical movement of the frame; only the lens moves (in the human eye) – this is what I’d like to do with a camera.
Regarding sound, a lot of Brakhage’s films are silent because he develops a visual language that would make the films redundant if sound were added. He believes films are a visual art. I disagree with this statement – film can include all of the other arts and the extent to which it does depends on the needs of the film.
Brakhage. Dir. Jim Shedden. Canada. 1998. Watched on mubi.com on Fri 22 February 2013.
Yesterday I filmed stuff that was on my dining table. The sun was streaming through the window onto it and I had in mind the words I wrote yesterday in response to “yellow sky draped itself over everything lazily”. This evening I played around with that footage in Adobe Premiere Pro 6 but am not satisfied with it. I recorded myself saying the poem – eight takes – all with different tones. I chose the first one. It’s interesting how a tone can change the feel of something. I tried to rid my voice of emotion in one of the takes and it sounded like a child learning to read but uninterested in the task.
Yellow spot – point of acutest vision in retina.
Yellow streak – trait of cowardice.
Sky – region of the atmosphere and outer space seen from the earth
Draped – covered, hung, adorned with cloth, arranged in graceful folds.
Itself – the thing previously named or in question. It – sexual intercourse, sex appeal, extreme limit of achievement.
Over – so as to cover or touch whole surface.
Everything – all things; thing of importance.
Lazily – averse to work, indolent (indolent – slothful (from doleo suffer pain)).
The sky is almost like flesh laying itself over me, covering me with its pain sluggishly. It can’t get back up. It has fallen. Hard to move. Hard to breathe. Dragging one foot in front of the other, not caring where this path is going. Cotton wool in my head. Slow movements. Can’t see a way out of the monotony. Repetition. Slow repetition. Sleepy repetition. Can barely lift my head. Weighed down by melancholic yellow that sees all but does nothing.
“yellow sky draped itself over everything lazily” What is the mood of yellow sky draping itself over everything lazily? It’s languid and floppy. Like too much milkshake or Christmas dinner. It’s hot and sleepy. It’s “can’t be bothered”. Camera motion could be slow and droopy. Doesn’t necessarily have to be outside. Could be the sun draping itself over everything inside. Could be sunlight and shadows over ruffled fabric, like a quilt tossed aside. Doesn’t even have to have sunlight on it. My dramatic nerve wants to arrange the quilt as if something had happened before the filming began. I filmed the table I’m working at which has sunlight and long shadows on it. I’m going to wait for the shadows to lengthen and do some more.
Found this tiny rubber duck in a charity shop. Makes a great sound when squeezed repeatedly – like a heart beating, but not quite. It also glows in the dark which I find comforting for some reason. Recorded the sound with a Zoom.
What appeals (pun intended) to me about this banana skin is the way the brown wrinkles began appearing after I peeled it. The process was quick. While the fruit was inside, the intact skin was mostly yellow and smooth. Taking the structural support away changed the skin in ways I couldn’t have predicted before I noticed this effect.
“The technique… is simply to return – every time you realise you’ve been carried away by a narrative, or by an emotion – to the breath.” (62)
Burkeman, Oliver. The Antidote – Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking. 2012: Canongate Books Ltd, Edinburgh; London. Print.
I like this quote because it reflects on what I’d like to bring through in the Fictions brief film. I did get carried away with narrative in my last film. And I’m sure I will again. I would like to remember this when I’m shooting and editing. Perhaps it could be a literal device: I could record myself breathing.