Approaching my next project…

 

Friendship Film

Evolving “Mind Map” for my next film on the theme of Friendship.

As I’ve progressed as a film maker though half a dozen film  projects, I’ve gradually changed how I conceive, work on, and execute my films. More and more I find myself moving  towards a completely organic way of doing things. For me, this means having lots of things going on at once…and being ready to follow a whim at a moment’s notice. To me, a whim, a glimpse, a half-formed image in my head, are all-important because they provide clues to what my story is about. Where it’s heading, what it is and what it might be.

In previous films, I’d find a subject; a clothing designer, a pianist, a Vietnam veteran. I’d ask them to tell their story,  then add the trimmings of  music and visuals to amplify their tales. Of course, I had a lot of selecting and editing to do in order to arrive at a narrative that presented a distilled summary of my subject. And on the whole,  I think these films  turned out to be fair to middling. But I wasn’t all that aware of my own drives, needs, and yearnings as an added character that I unconsciously brought to each film. In retrospect, I believe I approached these subjects from the outside looking in…

Father Soldier” changed all that for me. I think, at first glance, the film might seem to be a repetition of my previous working methods…Interviews edited then illustrated with sound and visuals. I guess, loosely speaking, that working method could be said of almost any documentary.

In order to give myself a reason to make a film about Father Leo, I spent a lot of time thinking about why I was drawn to his character. His personal story was on the interesting side, no denying that.  But I became more and more aware as I struggled for a reason to commit to this project that what I found most interesting about my subject was the perfection of his life. That given a fine constitution, a good mind, and the nurturing environment of a golden childhood, he not only was able to take on World War II, withstand the loss of many buddies including his best friend, but additionally, weather the  associated trauma of actually witnessing their deaths.

I can’t even imagine what that must have been like. How does a person go on after experiencing that kind of devastation? Maybe you “survive”, but can you ever really live, flourish and be there for others? How does your best friend actually dying in your arms not be the defining moment of your life? Which is exactly the answer I expected when I asked Father Leo what his defining moment was. His answer, delivered with no hesitation, was that becoming a priest was that moment, that experience of a lifetime. That really hit me! So I spent a lot of time trying to come up with imagery and sound that expressed loss, grief, solace, and redemption. I filmed a lot in bad weather so that I could use nature to amplify my character’s thoughts and emotions.  Portraits of trees strong and bending, the rustle of the wind, the soft blanketing comfort of snow falling , rain and moving water. So many different emotions can be projected on these natural forces…

It seems to me that whether it’s choosing to be a priest, a teacher, a toll booth operator or an artist, there is a moment of decision that defines each life.  For some it might be a terrible ordeal, like a war,  and then a decision point as to whether to seek life and meaning – or to live in or re-experience the past. For others it might be a long search, with no real external trauma influencing anything.  A long search…and finally an answer to the direction of one’s life.

Stanley Kubrick once said that existence was entirely meaningless , and that given that fact,  it then becomes the job of each human being to create that meaning.  I like what Kubrick says because essentially  choosing one’s life path becomes a creative decision.  And  it’s a job.

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *