Saturday, June 18, 2011

Film School: Part One

Everyone sat down in the theater for a clandestine showing of their film. Each of them had seen it, in bits and pieces, editing it into something coherent, but this was the first time they’d watched it together, all the way through. Someone turned the lights out and pressed play on the computer. Black screen. “Screw the Danger” in white letters. Helvetica. Grant had pushed for it, Clark had hated it, and the others had more important things to care about than typefaces. The letters dropped away in a cute little animation. Clark’s idea.
The black turned into a greyscale image, which turned into a coloured image, still with a lot of grey and dark blue tones. Vivian had said that they should start out with that aesthetic.
The camera was zooming in towards the back of Clark’s head.
“It seemed cool at the time, but now, so strange. Awkward.”
“I think it’s okay. It’s an original style to start in.”
“Shut up!”
Clark turned around. Pale, skinny, wide jaw, wide pointed nose and messy bleached hair. He was singing something, but you couldn’t quite read his lips and the voiceover was talking, slow then faster and faster, reading poems without the appropriate pauses and rhythm.
Then it went silent. His lips stopped moving at the very same instant. He looked up. The camera panned to the sky, and back to him, now laying down on impossibly green grass.
A pair of shoes walked up next to his head and Clark started talking.
They remembered how the exact words had been ad-libbed. It hadn’t mattered what he said, so long as it seemed like he was spilling his guts to the camera/ And the effect, they unanimously decided, had been positive.
The camera switched to a bird, just sitting on a little branch. It moved it’s head, looked down, and then just flew away.
Fade to black.
And now Clark was sitting at the counter in a diner, fifties style. He was wearing a button down shirt and tie. Drinking coffee and staring straight forward. He never took his hand off the mug. When he was finished, he reached in his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. Took out money, laid it on the counter, stood up, and walked away.
He walked outside, and the camera focused on his shoes, shiny and black, looking like they would fit in far better in a church, worn by a man who was religious because he was a sinner than the Clark they knew. But in that moment, Clark, kicking pieces of gravel as he walked down the side of the road, became someone new, someone fresh.
“This is amazing.”
“Was I wearing brown socks with black pants and black shoes in that shot?”
“It doesn’t matter, it’s perfect.”
“I can’t believe you let me go like that.”
And then they were silenced by a passing semi truck that blew Clark’s hair to the side. And he turned away from the road, took off his shoes, loosened his tie, and started running. They all remembered shooting this scene, how Clark insisted that they get it right the first time, because there was no way he was running away from them twice. They had filmed until he turned into a speck in the woods at the end of the field, and taken years to come back. They’d filmed too, when he was coming back. It wasn’t planned, but they had put it in during the credits. To give closure to the scene, which , someone suggested, would leave the viewer feeling satisfied more than a scene without closure would.
The movie went on like that. Clark didn’t like it. It was too much of him, too much of the strange shots at strange locations, not enough plot. It wasn’t a story, it was a study in narcissism.
And when it was over, someone got up to turn off the computer and projector and turn on the lights.
“It’s not wh-”
“No. We’re not discussing it. Not now. We need to let it sink in, to become a part of us, before we try and do something more with it.”
“Okay. I’m find with that.”
“That’s good.”
“I’m good with that too.”
And their group, having felt so connected, so wildly together a mere hour ago, dissipated.

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