The Cloud Machine – 20 minutes short film

FeaturedThe Cloud Machine – 20 minutes short film

The idea for The Cloud Machine came to me quite spontaneously a few years ago and, as soon as it did I remember experiencing that, not-so familiar,  feeling all artists are desperate for, when an idea seems to have a life of its own. I’m not going to tell you the ending of the film (because I don’t want to spoil it) but it does work well and has a really nice sense of completeness to it.

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Shannon and Finian – The Cloud Machine 

The film is pretty much a travelogue and tells the story of 2 children as they are reunited with this misfit father on a country journey to find (you guessed it) the Cloud Machine. Their father, Finian, is a storyteller who hasn’t really ‘made-it’ in a worldly sense but has an amazing imagination and takes his children on a journey into an imaginary world as well as on a  real journey. The conflict in the story, however, comes from his relationship with his 8 year old daughter, Shannon, who following his 1 year absence, has ceased to be the loving, imaginative girl he remembers but has become a cold and hard-nosed realist who hates story telling almost as much as she does her unreliable, story telling father.

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During the course of their journey, though, and their transition into imaginary realms – the barriers between Shannon, Finian and her small brother, Ciaran are broken down until, at the foot of the magnificent cloud machine, a new resolution is reached.

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“The Story Weaver’s Cottage” Location from the Cloud Machine… 

This is a film in the manner of Fellini’s “La Strada” or “Whistle Down The Wind” – and loosely fits into the magic realist genre – my absolute favourite genre – if it is one. Also, I would really like the movie to be a landscape film, something akin to Renoir’s “A Day in the Country” in this case the country being the beautiful woodlands south of Croydon (yes they really exist).pc9

A scene from “A Day in the Country” Jean Renoir 

Anyway, If you want to know more about the film or even pledge money to help us get it made  then please follow this link to our kickstarter page below:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thecloudmachine/the-cloud-machine?ref=email

 

 

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“The Embrace” – idea for a short film using ‘free indirect discourse’

“The Embrace” – idea for a short film using ‘free indirect discourse’

This will all need to change radically! – but for now here is an idea which combines something of the neorealist styles of Andrea Arnold with the formalist approaches of Bergman or Godard. 


Log-line:  

A university security guard’s grip on reality begins to slip as he becomes increasingly convinced that a young lecturer is behaving suspiciously and needs to be brought to justice.

Tone/Genre 

“The Embrace” is a psychological thriller in the  manner of “Mulholland Drive” or “The Machinist”.

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Locations

The Embrace will be shot on campus at Hertfordshire University.

Visual Style 

The film will have a mosaic-like structure made up of moments of extreme realism contrasted with lyrical dream-like sequences something similar to the slow motion scenes from “In The Mood For Love” (2000). As the film progresses the dreamlike moments take on a darker aspect reflecting the fracturing thoughts of the protagonists psyche.

The visual influences for this film sitting somewhere between Goddard’s “Alphaville” and Richard Ayoade’s “The Double”.

Key Concept: ‘Free Indirect Discourse’

The main idea behind the script is to resurrect a style of voice-over as employed by filmmakers such as L. Bresson and  E. Rohmel and their use of a literary technique called “free indirect discourse”. The use of free indirect discourse deliberately creates ambiguity making it difficult to say who is telling the story  – an objective narrator, the film maker or the main protagonist, and is a device I intend to use to reflect the increasingly unstable psyche of my main protagonist. As well as this I will also  be employing a more familiar voice-over technique called, “the unreliable narrator”, which (think;  Lolita or Catcher In the Rye) I will use to create a deliberate tension between what the audience sees and what the protagonist tells us we should be seeing.

Main Characters

Paul Chambers:

A security guard in his mid 30’s. Handsome and strong but in a place/world where his strength and good looks are entirely redundant and unnoticed. Has worked as a security guard with the university for around 2 years but in that time hasn’t managed to form any meaningful relationships. Has a history of undiagnosed and untreated psychological problems. Ex-football supporter.

Ben Wright:

A 25 year old university lecturer, currently studying for a PhD in Humanities. Sociable and well-spoken,  has a tendency to cut corners and take liberties when it comes to abiding by university authority (steals photocopy paper, uses milk from the cafeteria for his breakfast cereal).

Ivana: 

A pretty, 20 year old Bulgarian barista, working in the university’s coffee  shop.

Okwute & Nnaji: 

Nigerian security staff.


Treatment: The Embrace

Please note: The sequence of events in the treatment  will definitely need to be re-thought. 

The film opens in a university common area crowded with talkative young students. The common  area spills out into a smart new cafe space where IVANA, a pretty Bulgarian barista, is being shown how to serve snacks and use the till by an older English lady, STACEY.  As Ivana struggles to work the till her movements are accompanied by a man’s voice which talks about her simple, unaffected beauty.

At first we don’t know who these words belong to until we see, waiting in the queue, the well-built security guard, PAUL CHAMBERS, watching Ivana as she struggles to make a sale on the till. The voice-over ends abruptly as Stacey, the older lady, curtly asks Paul if he is ready to order.  Paul blurts out his order in coarse North London dialect.

Sometime later we see Paul as he sits and eats his sandwiches in the small security guard offices. Two Nigerian security men talk to each other in their native tongue paying no attention to Paul.

Paul walks through the university’s crowded public spaces unnoticed by the young students.

We see him in standing in an empty stairwell checking the loosely fitting metal handrail.

Hours later, Paul reenters the cafe to find that Stacey is packing her bag to go, leaving Ivana to close up alone. Paul buys a drink from Stacey before sitting at the back of the room watching as Ivana wipes the white tabletops in the cafe as she closes shop.

As the scene progresses the everyday activity of wiping tables takes on an almost dreamlike quality as Paul watches Ivana’s graceful movements. As he does so, the voice-over describes how Paul is able to translate her movements,  which, he feels, are signals aimed directly at him. Music plays as Paul’s anticipation builds and Ivana moves from table to table towards the one he is sitting at.

Just as Ivana reaches Paul’s table the mood of anticipation changes however, when BEN WRIGHT, (the same man who was in the queue earlier that morning) a well-spoken young lecturer enters the room asking if it is too late to buy a coffee. Ivana, stops wiping the tables and offers Ben a free filter coffee from the cafetiere. Ben pours milk into his drink, talking freely with Ivana, offering to help her with her poor English – to which she politely declines.

The next day we see Paul as he stands in the cafe area looking over to where Ben is sitting with a a female lecturer. After a few moments Ben gets up and makes his way towards the cafe area, passing Paul on his way. As he does so the security guard makes a point of reading Ben’s name tag as once more we hear the familiar voice-over.

This time, however, the voice suggests that something about the lecturer isn’t quite right – something that Paul can’t put his finger on. The scene ends as we see Ben once more talking casually with the delightful Ivana. Paul writes down Ben’s name down in a small black diary – circling it three times.

Some days later we see Ben enter the cafe area with a small box hidden in his bag as he surreptitiously pours his own cereal into a bowl, before pouring milk over the cereal from the milk container labelled ‘for drinks only’. This is the moment of confirmation Paul has been waiting for, as once more the voice-over speaks about the lecturer’s offence – about how the milk was clearly meant for drinks and not cereal – turning a small crime into something much more serious.

Ivana comes out to see Ben, who moves the cereal bowl out of sight guiltily. She tells Ben that she would like to take him up on his offer of language coaching.

Paul is very worried about the corrupting presence that the clearly criminal humanities lecturer might have upon the innocent Bulgarian girl, starting to investigate the lecturer in earnest – finding out which part of the university he teaches in, even going so far as to check the tyres of Ben’s car in the staff carpark.

Over the next few days Paul shadows Ben like a private detective, listing all his misdemeanours: watching as Ben steals a packet of paper from the staff room photocopier – or uses a door marked “no exit” – or flirts with his pretty female students – watching as Ben and Ivana sit together laughing in the cafe area, all the times his thoughts (the voice over) growing steadily darker and more concerned for the girl’s safety.

Finally we see Ben enter a toilet cubicle only to see Paul in the cubicle adjacent to it  (the voice over telling us) that Paul is convinced that Ben is using his smart phone to access pornographic images of the worst and most degrading nature – (even though this is just speculation).

After this, Paul follows Ben from the toilet knowing that he must act swiftly if he is to bring the felon to justice. As he follows Ben, though, Paul suddenly hears strange folk music playing and as he looks through the door into the cafeteria he watches in amazement as Ivana performs a suggestive but beautiful Bulgarian folk dance to haunting music, before prostrating herself at Ivan’s feet, banging her chest in a strange ritual of surrender.

By now it is hard to say what is real and what is illusion – but one thing is clear,  which is that Paul knows he must save Imogen from Ben. This he does by breaking the fire bell – setting off the alarm, just as the two are about to seal their love with a  kiss.

As Ben goes to fetch his coat and bag, Paul catches the unsuspecting lecturer by the hand, pushing him into the same deserted stairwell we saw Paul in earlier. Ben is completely shocked as Paul advances down the steps towards the frightened lecturer, snatching up the broken handrail as he descends. As the two descend the steps the voice-over now speaks about the similarity between the two men and how, under different circumstances, their roles might have been reversed – how Paul might have been important.

At the bottom of the stairs Ben shields his face as Paul lifts the metal rod to strike but instead lets the pole slip from his hand where it clatters to the floor. The voice-over is almost  incomprehensible

now, stating that Paul finally understands with complete clarity what he must do to resolve the situation.

Ben recoils in horror as Paul puts his arms around him holding him tighter and tighter until both men’s faces are red. At this point something entirely surreal happens (we are now trapped inside the mind of a mad man) and we see images of lights coalescing – or rivers flowing into each other – as the two men become one. When the sequence comes to an end we see that Ben is standing alone and that Paul is nowhere to be seen.

Ben walks back towards Ivana who is waiting outside, the fire bell still ringing quietly in the distance. Ben stands with her and holds her hand. They kiss, as the voice-over speaks out for the last time, saying something profound (but I can’t think what exactly, just yet).


Casting: 

I have already started to talk to actors about possible castings and have uploaded a speculative  advert to casting-call-pro and shooting people.

Crew: 

Will need a good DOP for some of the sequences but am happy to film other sequences myself. Was planning to shoot the film using the new Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera which is small an unobtrusive but have recently been using the iPhone 6, which can film in 4K and has a very nice set of lenses including an anamorphic. As well as this the iPhone 6 has very nice hand held gimbal which will be very useful for some of the action shots. Will also need a sound recordist and a lighting assistant/runner.

Audience and Festivals: 

Using a voice over is clearly a gamble but I am interested to see if I can make the unusual “free indirect discourse” device work. If I can do this I think the film will have a very unusual psychological dimension which might make it popular at thriller/horror festivals such as Michigan’s Thriller-Chiller festival, or Los Angeles Thriller Festival.

Improvisation In Public Spaces

Improvisation In Public Spaces

Moving on from the last improvisation session which we held back in November I decided this time to run an acting session in a real, public location. The session was very productive and, although not quite as dynamic and dramatic as the two films from my previous postings,  has helped me to consider more, how, as a film director, I need to manage the technical and creative issues that arise.

The film was shot using two iPhone 6’s which, although extremely unobtrusive and unnoticeable to the members of the public, have proven to be a little disappointing in terms of image quality. This has led me  to a possible rethink  as to whether or not I can rely on them to shoot my final year film.

I haven’t finished editing the whole piece yet but as a taster here is a scene from the film we shot  at a cafe in Streatham Common. As well as this I have also posted a short video account shot before and after the session in which I talk to the cast about their experiences.

 

“Film Is A Dream – But Whose?”

“Film Is A Dream – But Whose?”

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Two fascinating books which I have been reading, and which have been helping me define new approaches to the kind of films I want to make are – P. Schrader’s (the screenwriter of ‘Taxi Driver’ 1976) “Transcendental Style” (1972) and B. Kawin’s “Mindscreen” (1978). Both books inhabit similar areas of film theory, namely the place where subjectivity and objectivity are blurred – where film  moves from being a third person, objective ‘viewer of events’ – to being something much more opaque and ambiguous; existing somewhere between these inner and outer worlds.

Both writers build their theories around their ‘close reading’ of the work of famous directors, with Kawin focusing on the work of Bergman & Godard – and Schrader on Japanese filmmaker Ozu, as well as Bresson and Dreyer.

Besides being extremely interesting books (which I fully intend to discuss in later blogs) what really interests about their shared notion of ‘first-person’ film (something similar to the human mind),  has been how these  concepts have helped me gain a better understanding of one of my own films called “Naked Flame”, which  I posted in my 2nd blog entry back in October 2015.

As I describe in my earlier blog (see here), ‘Naked Flame’ was a piece of work of which I was particularly proud, but which had become something of an enigma. I say this, as after making the film I could never fully understand how I had created it, or even what it was about the film that was so interesting to me. After reading the aforementioned books, however, especially  Kawin’s (1976) analysis of Bergman’s “Persona”  (P. 103-172), I now see that “Naked Flame” creates a ‘dream-space’ something akin to the one in Bergman’s “Persona”. This dream-like, poetically-structured style of film  being nicely summarised by Kawin in a quote taken from the introduction to  “Mindscreen” (1978) (p-3)  in which he says,  “Film is a dream – but whose?”.

I won’t attempt a full analysis of the books here (will be writing more about them later) and instead am going to sit “Naked Flame” and Bergman’s “Persona” alongside each other in the hope that by cross referring between the two I can gain a clearer understanding of cinema as ‘dream-space’, or,  as Kawin describes it – “Mindscreen”.

References 

Schrader, P. (1972). Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer. Da Capo Press.

Kawin, B. F. (1978). Mindscreen: Bergman, Godard, and first-person film. Princeton Paperback.

Deeper Themes…

Deeper Themes…

Have been doing some major rethinking regarding the kind of film I want to make, largely due to the restrictions I felt were imposing themselves as I sat down to  consider narrative structures for my improvised film ideas.

What I think  has occurred to me, over the last week or so, is how my current obsession with capturing realistic performances may be creating a filmic framework that could deny me access to a more poetic cinematic language that I have always admired in filmmakers such as Federico Fellini, Pasolini, Bergman. So, while I still want to retain the realist devices used by Mike Leigh, Shane Meadows, Skandar Copti, Andrea Arnold et al, I am now beginning to  see that a narrow neorealist approach to filmmaking may not be the best vehicle for me to explore my themes and interests.

Which are what? What are the themes that interest me? 

Well, at the risk of sounding deeply unfashionable (and opening myself up to flak from neo-atheists)  one of the main themes I would like to explore is that of spirituality. Not from an external sense, though, of holy books, dogma and rituals, but spirituality as seen from a more William Blake, Carl Jung ‘depth psychology sort of standpoint’ –  of the contrary states of deep inner isolation of the ego and of the bliss of connectivity.

The idea of satori or enlightenment also interests me and how these notions of connectivity, which were once valued by society,  are now in our outward-looking materialistic age, without value. How it is that someone with a ‘healthy soul’ can be seen as being without value in our world, while someone who is experiencing the most disconnected inner angst  –  but who has all the necessary external signifiers of wealth – can be seen to be successful.

I am also interested in the idea of exploring a feeling of disconnectedness that has bothered me my whole life. The idea that I am out of step with a deep level of being and (taking the notion further) how as a species we all seem to be prone to the same metaphysical sickness that isolates each of us from everyone and everything around us.

It is these subjective worlds and the dissonance between them and the everyday world we all share, that interests me. Not in isolation, though, but along with these other notions of realism I have been discussing in my earlier blogs. My problem, though, is how to access both these different aspects  of cinematic language – prose and poetry – without limiting myself to an ‘either/or’ position.

With these kind of questions in mind I have been reading a few, loosely connected articles which I will share with you as means of exploring some of these new thoughts as they occur to me.

The first quote I use is taken from a paper written by Tarkovsky called “Sculpting in time: reflections on the cinema.”(1989)  in which he establishes the idea of a species of filmmaker/poets who transcends the objectivity of a filmed world by the power of their vision, stating that – “there are two basic categories of film directors. One consists of those who seek to imitate the world in which they live, the other of those who seek to create their own world. The second category contains the poets of cinema, Bresson, Dovzenko, Mizoguchi, Bergman, Buñuel and Kurosawa, the cinema’s most important names.”

A comment made by Federico Fellini in the book  “I, Fellini.” (2001) also reiterates this idea as he talks about a type of film existing across the three levels of being  – “on which our minds live: the past, the present, and the conditional – the realm of fantasy”

Again reiterating a similar concern, the french filmmaker E.Rohmer (1989) talks about how he wanted his sextet of films – called  “Six Moral Tales”, to “portray in film what seemed most alien to the medium – to express feelings buried deep in our consciousness.”

Reflections on my own film process… and how to explore deeper “inner” themes. 

I am beginning to see that a simple realistic approach to film  will not be sufficient for me to explore the spiritual themes I have mentioned above and with this in mind will be dedicating my next few blogs to understanding how the filmmakers I admire – such as, Fellini or Pasolini have done exaclty that.

References 

Tarkovsky, A., & Hunter-Blair, K. (1989). Sculpting in time: reflections on the cinema. University of Texas Press.

Fellini, F., & Chandler, C. (2001). I, Fellini. Cooper Square Press.

Rohmer, E. (1989). The taste for beauty. Cambridge University Press.

Ideas On My Film Narrative So Far…

Ideas On My Film Narrative So Far…

Ok, as well as theorising I have been working on a narrative which I will I share in this blog. I am not fixed on the idea as it stands, yet,  for a number of reasons ( it may be too long – it may be too contrived) but iI think it will help me to get it off my chest and commit it to paper (ok, not paper but similar) so that’s what i will do.

My Story – for now…

My story involves 3 characters, Paul Welles, a name-dropping, insomniac language coach in his 50′s,  Toby Flowers, an excitable, successful  actor in his early twenties and Peter X (? no idea for name),  a 40 year old spiritual bum. The story takes place at Paul Welles’ house in North London where the owner is extremely pleased to have been chosen to give accent coaching lessons to the very successful, Toby F,  who is in the UK to take part in an edgy West End Play in which he plays a part of a Londoner with a cockney accent. Toby is not so sure about working with Paul, though, and is concerned that the ‘arty’ play he is has been cast in  should be a great success and that his London accent and characterisation is absolutely authentic and not fake. Peter, an itinerant wanderer,  who, (depending on your point of view)  is either, suffering from a mental illness – or – has achieved a state of satori – or enlightenment  – is sleeping rough, unbeknown to the Paul, in the shed at the bottom of Paul’s garden.

I’m not really sure about how the story starts so what would be most useful would be for me to create a step outline of the events in the story to see how they work. I can always tweak and rearrange them afterwards. 

Story Outline – Working Title: “Shapes In The Fog”

Peter is sleeping in a shed.

Paul cannot sleep and we show that he is someone suffering from some kind of soul sickness – inner malady.

Not sure how to communicate this (options – symbolism – we see a shrouded character – voice over etc. music) 

Paul goes to put his cat out.

Peter is woken by the cat coming in through  the shed door. Peter lets the cat in and feeds it chocolate.

He sees a light from Paul’s study come on.

Montage/jump cuts – Paul is reading the script of the play ‘Sea Of Fog’ – he is making notes on a dictaphone. Quite critical reviews. He speaks in a cockney accent. He listens to recordings and video footage of Toby he made the day before. Toby being crazy and madcap.  He is aware of the time. He talks to a friend about how good it is to be working with Toby and all they did so far.

Toby arrives hung over.

Toby and Paul talk about their progress.  Toby is concerned for the play to be deeply authentic. The play is an enigma  (could be fun to hint at a story that we never see – think – Clockwork Orange)

Small talk. Toby reads from the play. His cockney accent is bad.

Paul offers more physiological suggestions – dropping the tongue – palette etc.

Peter is in the shed – he is just staring at something –  the shapes made by the trees and the light.

Toby is concerned about Paul’s method – he wants a real person to learn from not just to get the sound right. Paul reassures him and tells him all the people he has worked with. Toby tells him he doesn’t want to sound like Dick Van Dyke. Paul is hurt he watches Toby in the garden. Doing mad stuff and shouting in a cockney accent. Paul feels worthless and a sham.

Peter looks though his bag for food. Nothing. He has a hand full of change. He goes out through a hole in the fence.

Toby, who is practicing his lines in the garden sees Peter leave the shed and go through the fence. He looks in the shed and sees Peter’s sleeping things. He goes back into the house and we see him saying something to Paul.

Peter returns to the shed to eat his fruit and bits. The door opens it is Paul and Toby.

Paul grills Peter about what he is doing in the shed. Peter answers in a cockney accent. Paul starts to call the police when Toby stops him. He takes Paul to one side. Toby is happy – Peter has exactly the voice that Toby is after. He asks Paul to record Peter.

Jump cut to Peter being invited in. Paul looks pissed off but keeps up the sham. Toby gets Peter to speak about anything. Can you say this – he gives him a line from the play.

Toby tells Peter to ‘just talk’ – tell me about your best dream. Peter talks about something spiritual.

Toby is impressed. He speaks to Paul – let him stay here tonight. Toby is making progress. I will pay you more.

Paul listens to Toby talking – he hates him.
Peter stays over…

Observations and reflections on the above. 

This is all I have so far but reading through these notes and ideas I am starting to see that this narrative is way too long for a short film that ought to be about between 10 to 20 minutes long. I am also very aware of how I am allowing myself to be pulled into the ‘script first’ approach of mainstream movie making and how i am NOT letting myself enjoy the riskiness of the alternative approaches of Copti, Leigh etc.

Anyway, this was worth archiving and doing so helps me see how important it is that i remain conscious of the film process.

Results Of First Improvisation Workshop

Results Of First Improvisation Workshop

So, today I held my first acting workshop based upon the techniques and methods I mentioned in yesterday’s blog. I Invited 5 friends to the first session, 2 of whom had previous acting experience and 3 with none. The session was a great success and, as well as being a great way to try out ideas on how to run an improvisation, it was also lots of fun, and genuinely surprising for all involved.

The method…

At first I was a bit unsure about the acting method i wanted to try and was torn between choosing a Mike Leigh approach, where I would work with my actors individually on back story and characterisation, or Scandal Copti and Ulrich Seidl’s method where actors are given discreet instructions and scenes are allowed to play out spontaneously. I decided for the latter and am pleased I did as it gave my non-actors a great boost to know they could ‘act’ before involving them in  rigorous development sessions and also helped them to trust me and my hands off approach.

What was fascinating about the session was how philosophically rich the experience of giving my actors discreetly different world views was, (which will be apparent if i reflect upon a couple of the sessions.)  For example,  In the scene below, which i have titled the “Two of Us” – I first spoke to my characters as a unit telling them the objective details that they would all know – such as: John – was the father in his 60′s – Caroline was the older daughter and Sarah was the younger daughter and that both sisters  were visiting their father over the weekend at his house. After this I took my characters into a separate room where I gave them very simple accounts of how they FELT about the other characters. This is what I told them…

JOHN (the father) – You want to give your attention to SARAH because she is fragile and needs your support. CAROLINE is much stronger but can be a bit too dominating.

SARAH (blonde daughter) – You want to tell give your father JOHN, who is a bit depressed,  a big boost by telling him all the good things that are happening in your life and to be cautious of Caroline who is a trouble maker.

CAROLINE – You want to spend time with your father but your Sister always steals his time – maybe tonight is the night to tell them how you feel.

It took a few false starts to try and stop my actors from feeling the need to ‘act’ and to relax and wait for the scene to evolve naturally. After a few moments, though, this is exactly what happened as John and Sarah established a natural bond with Caroline being naturally excluded.

The scene i have attached is a few moments after John and Sarah have been talking together as Caroline picks up a magazine in protest.

“The Two Of Us”

What was interesting in this scene is the way in which all the characters have the feeling that they are justified in how they interact with the other characters. No one is playing a ‘bad’ character – everyone has  a completely warped sense of reality that they are trying to impose upon the others. In fact, thinking about the scene, what is really interesting is, that rather than there being 3 distinct characters in the scene, there are in fact many more. (I am working this out as write so please bare with me).

The Interpretant: and what i mean when i say there were more than 3 actors in the ‘two of us’ scene?

Well, for example there were 3 Carolines – Sarah’s competitive sister, John’s competent daughter and Caroline’s own excluded version of herself.

There were also 3 versions of Sarah – John’s delicate daughter, Caroline’s attention greedy sibling and Sarah’s version of herself as the bringer of positivity

There were 3 versions of John – Sarah’s needy father who wanted picking up – Caroline’s unloving father who needed a truth lesson and John’s version of himself as a caring father who wants to help his allot attention where needed.

I find this idea to be extremely interesting and puts me in mind of a semiotician and philosopher I have been reading recently called, Charles Peirce,  and his notion of a triadic semiotics and his concept of the interpretant.

What is that? (here’s a quote from Stanford’s philosophy website and a link to the article  if you are interested to learn more)

Peirce’s basic claim is that signs consist of three inter-related parts: a sign, an object, and an interpretant. For the sake of simplicity, we can think of the sign as the signifier, for example, a written word, an utterance, smoke as a sign for fire etc. The object, on the other hand, is best thought of as whatever is signified, for example, the object to which the written or uttered word attaches, or the fire signified by the smoke. The interpretant, the most innovative and distinctive feature of Peirce’s account, is best thought of as the understanding that we have of the sign/object relation.

The importance of the interpretant for Peirce is that signification is not a simple dyadic relationship between sign and object: a sign signifies only in being interpreted. This makes the interpretant central to the content of the sign, in that, the meaning of a sign is manifest in the interpretation that it generates in sign users.

For example the sign of – MARMITE – is not just a signifier and a signified it is many things – depending on how it is interpreted… for example

Not sure how this really relates to acting but it does seem like a useful conceptual tool when I stop to think about the complex relations between people I want my films to capture. Each of us reading each other in our own unique way – interpreting everything differently so that 2 characters are always 4 – and 3 characters are always 9. Every action being read in multitude of ways. (Very interesting stuff to ponder and does make me feel like I am grappling my way towards BAKHTIN’s  ideas of polyphony and multiple voices. MMMmmm…)

Next steps towards creating a film?

Anyway, that’s enough about Peirce for now – So what next?

Well, I am aware that I have used up some of my arsenal of acting tools by running the session the way i did it. For example I will never be able to run the father and daughter scene with the same people and every be able to capture the same levels of spontaneity again. However, I can use different actors or the create new scenarios for the same actors all of which i really need to think about… Having said this – i am aware that Mike Leigh does use the content generated from his initial improvisations as material from which he can then develop a written script which he then has actors relearn. Not sure why but this does seem like an odd thing to do and a part of the process i feel (for the moment) i should avoid replicating.

One technique of Mr Leigh’s I would like to use, though,  is to have my actors develop characterisations based on people they already know and with this in mind following our last session i asked my actors to think of 3 people they know well (same gender, similar age) who they could use as a basis for a character profile, explains to them that i would help them develop these characters in  follow up one-on-one sessions. I haven’t run these sessions yet but I am hoping that when i do that some kind of vague story will start to suggest itself following which  I can help my actors to settle on and develop in full one of their 3 characters chosen.

Anyway, here is another clip taken from our recent session – this one is called Dodgy Geezer