Sunday, June 25, 2006

On the Noble Art of Paring Things Down

On Monday I met up with our two leads, Adam Napier and Sally Scott to discuss how we're going to approach the whole workshopping aspect of Folie. We've decided to work from a scene breakdown rather than a script to beging with, as a lot of the film will be told through what is not said. Nick Harding and I will also be working on - indeed, are working on - a new draft of the script taking into account some of the suggestions that the actors have made. Not only are Adam and Sally very keen on the idea of paring the whole script right down, but also the entire supporting cast which, at the moment, is Christopher Dunne as the depressed and slightly mad soon to be ex-vicar, Martin Trent as a bartender who swears a lot and Steve Dineen as a vacuous and really rather sad tie salesman.

Another thing we decided on on Monday was the start date. I'm to get the scene breakdown to Adam and Sally within the next week or two, and we'll start knocking ideas back and forth, with a view to starting rehearsals in mid-late August, and shooting the film in the week beginning 11 September. This is the week after Sally's play ends, and we've decided that it will make all our lives a lot easier if we shoot then, and not in July as originally planned. (Apart from Sally's play, I also have a book to finish.) We'd ideally like to get the film finished in time to show it to the Cannes selection committee when they make their annual trip to London in March. Getting into the main competition will be almost impossible, so we're hoping for one of the sidebars like Director's Fortnight to smile benignly upon us.

Speaking of Sally's play, she's understudying Juliette Lewis in Sam Shepard's Fool For Love at the Apollo. Sally will have at least one night of taking over from Juliette, so I'm looking forward to that. Indeed, we may have a cast night out in the West End to cheer her on and generally applaud loudly, shower the stage with flowers during the curtain call and generally be well-oiled luvvies of the first water.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Anatoly Solonitsyn

Today is the 24th anniversary of the death of Anatoly Solonitsyn, Tarkovsky's favourite actor. He played the lead in Andrei Rublev, Dr Sartorius in Solaris, the country doctor in Mirror, and, perhaps best of all, the Writer in Stalker. Stalker has some bearing on what we're doing in Folie, in that it's one of the great films of the human face. For minutes on end, the camera simply watches the three actors be, rather than do. The ride into the Zone on the trolley car is perhaps the most celebrated example, where, for over three minutes of screen time, nothing happens, but at the same time, everything happens. A more extreme example is when the men reach the Room, and, after a lengthy squabble in the dirt - which sums up the plot of the whole film, come to think of it - they sit down in a puddle for well over four minutes, and the camera slowly pulls back to reveal that they're sitting on the threshold of the Room, which they are afraid to enter. It's one of the greatest things I've ever seen. So simple, but absolutely stunning to watch. And the last time we see Writer - and in fact the last time we see Anatoly Solonitsyn in a Tarkovsky film (he was too ill to play in Nostalgia) - he's having a contemplative smoke in the bar at the end of the film. Again, so much is conveyed by the simplest of means.

Another reason to cite Stalker is that I've been thinking for months about the look of Folie. I'd originally toyed with the idea of setting the film in increasingly bleak locations (like the world outside the Zone), but on a recent trip to the bank (appeasing the National Socialists) I walked through Weston's Grove Park. It was a warm, but overcast day, and the park seemed incredibly verdant: the grass was long, the trees heavy in leaf, and I thought of the verdant, intense quality of the Zone. It somehow felt right for the film. As we're now shooting in September - that's another story/post - we should still be OK when it comes to foliage. I had the feeling, walking through the park, that I was in the middle of mystery. It was all about me, in the rustle of the leaves, in the swaying of the grass in the wind.

On the subject of anniversaries, yesterday was the 24th anniversary of Fassbinder's death. June 1982 was evidently not a good month for films...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Test Post

This is just a test to see if I can email the blog from Outlook.

Proper update to follow.

Things be afoot...