Wednesday, January 17, 2007
The Listerine Dilemma
While I still have not yet finished my script--I'm having trouble connecting A-W, to Z so to speak--I did extensive test shots last night, and should have a rough demo reel to show Jan Friday when he and I are going to rehearse, as well as help me realize anything that might not cut together. I'll do a quick edit of that later tonight.
Right now, my concern is with how I'm going to resolve several issues:
1. The Listerine bottle/label compulsion (although I have a potential alternate take on this below that is this close to gelling and solving a lot of my problems)
2. Wide-angle versus telephoto lenses: I am required by the parameteres of my individual assignment to use "far-away from the subject, highly-zoomed, telephoto" shots, not just long-duration shots and yet, after trying both the wide-angle and the telephoto lenses on every single shot that I tested, I found that the wide-angle created by far the most dynamic, compelling, thematically-resonant image in every single case except for maybe one. Because camera movement is very minimal and I am working with long shots, I need to cram as much information into each shot as possible, as much action as possible to keep it fresh and interesting. Plus there's something about a person losing their mind that seems to encourage the distortional effects of a wide-angle lens.
3. A more formalist question: How do I create a title sequence that works as an individual short film? I have the short film, all short films have credits, but as I learned last quarter, too many credits are indulgent. I don't have enough "real" credits to fill it out to the full running time, so what I'm considering doing is have the starring/directed by close to the beginning, the actual title at the end, along with any ancillary credits. I think this will make the sequence feel more complete, but it won't necessarily make it a real title sequence. I think what this issue boils down to is my desire to create a self-contained film and that that is conflicting with my desire to fulfill the parameters of the assignment. I think the ultimate goal however, is to create as good a short as possible, and if there are a few points where I have to bend the rules in service of the piece's integrity--so be it.
Guess that solves the wide-angle dilemma.
The problem with the Listerine bottle:
"The Listerine Loop": The listerine bottle is already stripped of its label when the character is brushing his teeth. But we see the character stripping off and eating the label after he has breakfast and then leaving the house. The point is to establish a cyclical continuum of anger, frustration. His destructive fetish with labels is how they represent the material world, the world of comfortable objects, a comfort that he desperately needs. So desperately that he eats these symbols in impassioned moments of near-ritualistic intensity.
The symbols of materiality become a sort of "comfort food" for him.
That's the overlording reasoning behind it. How then do I convey this cycle of material gluttony without being either a) heavy-handed, or b) without undermining the power of the revelation at the end? I think the key is to not have a big production of him eating it at the end. Just to hint to it through the jarring intrusions of this separate scene at a few key moments throughout the piece, and then to dolly/track past the shredded Listerine bottle at the end, before ending on the lone hair. Or should I even end on the lone hair? It feels like I have two possible endings: 1) ending on the lone hair; 2) ending on the listerine bottle w/ it's shredded pieces of wrapper fluttering around it. But he would have eaten all of the wrapper, so why would the whole crumpled thing be lying around it on the table? Maybe instead of a hair--which might be too heavy-handed in the first place (we already know someone is missing)--I should end on a small but decidedly indentifiable piece of wrapper lying on the table next to the listerine bottle, which reinforces the "comfort food" notion, as well as establishes the cyclical or at least non-linear arc of the film.
The film will hopefully feel linear, as in having a beginning, middle, and ending, but the beginning of the film does not necessarily have an end, nor does the end necessarily have a beginning. They are beginnings, middles, and ends that connect dramatically, but not logically.
Listening to: Real Gone, Tom Waits
Watching Later: Possessed