So, I have been working on a feature film. An original script, the first that I’ve written alone.2 The project is a small affair for me to direct, and I realized lately, I’m very inspired by people who show a transparency in their work. I decided that as I start to make this feature, I’d use this space a place to talk about influence, and also to show where I am in the process.3
I’m making a movie about two things. One story line is about a guy who is so obsessed with worrying if anyone will notice if he dies, he hides out for a week to see if he’s missed. The other key story is about this woman who sees him everyday as part of her commute and actually does notice that he goes missing, and when he resurfaces, she starts to follow him. The first idea is based on a real story. There was a woman who died in her Manhattan apartment, and it took people a year (!) to realized she was dead. And when they found her, she was decomposed in a crisp Chanel suit. It’s tragic and also very telling.
The second idea is inspired by Sophie Calle, one of my favorite artists. The project that had her start to realize she could be an artist was this series of photos she did about following strangers. When she was all of 26, she moved back home to Paris without any real idea of what she wanted to do next, and as a way to give her days structure she’d follow people to see what “real” humans got into. In the process she would photograph them and document what they did.
When I was in college I had a crush on a girl (actually I had crushes on many girls) but there was this one girl in particular who would walk around wearing all white, hurriedly scurrying to and from the all access video lab. She was maybe the whitest woman I’ve ever seen. That’s irrelevant to the story, save for that she became a yogi and then a rapper. Obama! Anyway, one day we were in the lab making small talk and I asked her what she was working on. She told me she was making a video following people. Which I found really creepy. I mean, it is creepy, we can all agree on that. But it is also super fascinating to me, this idea of wanting to connect to the strangers who surround you. And also to imagine a world where people are actually looking at you.
So in a sense, that’s the movie I wrote. As I go through the coming weeks, I want to go further into the things that inspire me, and also what is happening in the process.
1 Weegee and New York in general are another big influence on the film I’m making. Invasive, pervy, and sweet all in one gorgeous shot!
2 Last year I co-wrote a feature with the guys in Olde English, a sort of Exquisite Corpse project where I wrote the first 15 pages, the next person read my last 5 pages and wrote the next 15 pages, and so on and so on. Then the director, Ben Popik, made a documentary about the process. The writers just watched a cut of the movie minus the doc sections, and I’m really excited for people to see it.
3 For some reason, this really scares me. Maybe because I sometimes feel precious with my ideas. Doing this as an exercise is meant to let go of that, and also speed up the process of writing it by learning to let go.