Bridging Two Ideas

An installation project that Dominika and I made in our first year of uni can be linked to the bridge scene and pier scene in ‘The Layers’. Stylistically, ‘Bridges’ (2015) follows similar camera movements and angles.

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Above: Stills from ‘Bridges’ (2015)

The film is a 3 and a half minute loop installation centering on what happens when two strangers pass each other on a bridge. It is about parallel worlds, fate and chance encounters.

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Above: stills from ‘The Layers’ (2017)

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Going Round In Circles

This post isn’t about my progress with the film project- it’s a personal post; a reflection with how I’m feeling; but it still links, I guess, because it’s the main inspiration for the film.

The film is based on my on-going battle with Depression and Anxiety. The film’s antagonist; Alison is a metaphor for the manipulative way that the mind can trap you, and prevent you from going forwards.

So anyway- going back to my reflection:

I’m not okay. I’ve been up and down. Mostly down, but occasionally up. And the rare instances that I’ve felt happy have been hijacked by the negative thoughts which warn me not to get too happy, or I’ll crash and burn. (Like I’ve done many times).

Lately, I’ve been quite progressive: I’ve been doing all of the self-care things I’m supposed to like meeting up with my mentor on a weekly basis, going to the gym, and eating healthily. I’ve been proactive- I interned for a month, and I’ve been in and out of the edit suite, trying to piece together the film.

I quickly scribbled a poster in large font titled ‘How to Manage the Highs and Lows’: I made this when I felt stable, as a reminder that I’m going to feel low again, really low like I do right now- and the purpose of it is to give me some basic, easy things to do when I feel at breaking point. But I’m looking at it right now- it says things like “Don’t overthink, but when I do- I can CHOOSE how I react; I choose to focus on something else”. It’s so much easier said than done. When I look at the poster now, the words are meaningless, they are empty.

When I feel like this, the warning signs are there: unwashed dishes piling up, basic hygiene practices are thrown out the window, and I’m physically and mentally exhausted, but my brain won’t switch off and I know I’ll have trouble falling asleep.

Everything right now seems pointless. University. The graduation film. My career goals. My personal goals. Something tells me that I’ll make it through, but right now I can’t be positive, even if I tried with all my might.

This is the reality of this horrible, chronic illness. Yes, it’s an illness. There’s a taboo around calling it that- but that is what it is. If I could help it, I would not be this way. You know, sometimes I am stable, and I try and hold onto that as much as possible. But sometimes there are triggers- this overwhelming sadness and numbness feels random, but I know it’s triggered by reminders of the past. And there was a trigger this morning, where I knew that it would hit me really hard, and well…now it’s hit me. I am drained, tired, and feel really, really numb and low.

That’s all I can say. It will get better. Well I hope so.

Today I met with Dominika in the edit suite and the two of us watched over the rough cut that she made for the film. After Jini’s feedback last week, we decided that the film should begin with the kitchen scene where Alison is trying to provoke Andie by tearing out pages from a book. This was intended to establish Alison’s character and motivation more quickly and organically than it was shown previously. Also, we cut out the Day 2 office scene which was originally intended to show the monotony of Andie’s routine, but Jini felt that the office atmosphere had already been established and so this was unnecessary, and thus buy us more time.

So today Dominika and I watched over the edit, and smoothed over some parts- such as where the obvious cables and wires still appear despite the letter-boxing, and we also resolved some continuity issues such as in the kitchen where Alison appears to be sitting down, but she is standing up in the next shot without that being made clear. We also shortened some scenes where it felt necessary so that we could bring our overall timing to be shorter.

Also Dominika made the toilet scene much snappier, by inserting quick cut to’s between Alison knocking loudly on the door, and Andie’s reaction. The intended effect was to make the scene more dramatic and intense.

Comic Workshop

Yesterday I attended the Woodbarn Workshop, and participated in a workshop my Father, who is a cartoonist, led. After my Father gave a short presentation on his career highlights and an introduction to the world of comic making, we put our knowledge into practice.

Our task was to collectively produce a mini fanzine, made up of each person making a comic based on their favourite film.

 

The challenge was to tell the story using only six panels. I based my comic on ‘The Layers’. 

Bringing my own storyboards along definitely helped in terms of mapping out the visuals, but it was hard to choose only six images that would sum up the story. I decided to write the text from my own perspective- telling the story of my own Depression, rather than it being about Andie’s story. Andie in this case is me, and this was about my own reflection.

I was a little reluctant to sharing this at first because of how personal it was, but my Father reassured me that “a comic doesn’t always have to be humorous, it doesn’t have to have a strap-line. It can be personal”. 

 

Woodbarn Workshop is a collective of local artists in the Surrey/Hampshire border who meet up  to try out different art practices and explore different design processes.

Meaning and Purpose

On my own journey of self-discovery, I have recognised that I have a side of me which is rational, and understands that patience is a virtue. Events out of my control will always happen. I can’t control what happens outside of me.

I have a fear of being disliked. Even if I don’t know that person well at all, I am uncomfortably aware of the fact that they don’t like me, and I want to change that. I want everybody to like me because I like to think that I am always trying to do the right thing. Even if I know that right now, I could be working hard on improving myself, or that I should be doing the most urgent task immediately, I also believe that I should do what else feels right at that moment- what feels morally right. So in a work situation, I want to deal with the main problem- the general overall picture. I want to get to focus point. No chit-chat. Straight to the chase.

Sometimes I’m that chit-chat person. I’m bubbly. I’m a magnet to thoughtful discussion. I want to be friends with someone. I want to have a great interaction with someone, or I’m fully immersed in the environment. I focus on the person. I listen to their situation, I want them to be happy.

Even if that thing is bad, even if I have made a mistake, I want to know how I can fix it right now. Even if it’s too late to restore something good before it goes, I want it to become a lesson that I learn from. I don’t want to make the same mistakes again. I don’t want to run away from my problems anymore. I want to face them, head on and move forward.

I suppose Alison is a reflection of what Depression does- it manipulates you into thinking that there is something wrong with you, and you cause things to go wrong. In the office, Andie can anticipate something will go wrong, because she’s used to Alison turning up frequently in her life, which is the onset of her Depression.

I was inspired by this quote: “Understanding the ways in which your depression affects you, physically, emotionally and mentally is the first step to overcoming it and using it to your advantage.” That’s not to say you’ll never be depressed again, but it’ll help you create strategies to overcome a depressive episode when you feel one coming.” – from ‘The Depression Advantage’, by Tom Wootton.

References:

Wootton, T. (2007). The Depression Advantage. 1st ed. Bipolar Advantage Publishing.

Reflecting Back to Past Scripts

Looking back an old project I did, for the Scriptwriting module in the 2nd year of uni:

My story was about a depressed woman called Hannah who goes on a date because she feels pressured to by her Mother who is concerned that her biological clock is ticking. However, the end of the date is a turning point for Hannah, who decides she deserves to be respected and worthy. So she leaves the date, and she realises that she can craft happiness and discover purpose on her own.

My real intention for the piece was to illustrate that someone’s mental health status or lack of relationship at a certain age doesn’t define them as a person.

For someone that is recovering from depression, the key to recovery is small steps. The tendency to stay in bed all day is huge. but for a depressed person, doing small things slowly like taking a shower and having a small stretch can be so beneficial.

In this story, Hannah’s Mother is a big support network, and so she’s very grateful to her for all that she’s helped with and so doesn’t want to disappoint her by not going on a date.

Reflecting on this piece, I don’t think that the script does justice for how it feels to recover from Depression. I don’t think that the reader would feel enough compassion for the protagonist, nor do I feel the ending was resolved in a way that I think justifies Hannah’s want.

With the piece, I tried to put myself in Hannah’s shoes, but I made her ten years older than me, because there was the risk of being too involved in the character. Anyway, the whole process of deliberately thinking in a depressed person’s view had a negative impact on me. It was backed up by medical facts, but these traits are similar to my own, and I felt myself going into a negative spiral.

Southend Rejection

As a group, we had decided that Southend is where we would like to film after all. Initially, that deemed unfeasible because of accommodation costs. However, after a rethink we thought that it would actually be possible, just by reducing the size of the crew, and traveling daily as opposed to staying overnight.

Although we were granted permission by the council to film on Southend Pier, on Monday earlier this week, the claim was rejected because of the concerns of the film promoting suicide.

Therefore, we were adamant with our response, insisting that the film is about recovery and self-acceptance. But I do understand where they are coming from.

Meanwhile, Dominika, Diana and I are returned to the Welsh Harp Reservoir in Brent this morning to do another location recce, as a replacement for Southend.

It is an atmospheric setting, there is also a dangerous pool of water too. And I can picture the exact points where Alison and Andie would be standing. But the only problem is, it’s quite a dull and murky setting. As it’s supposed to be the dream sequence, we would need to film during a sunset and on a clear day to create that strong contrast between a gritty reality and a warm, golden dream.

For now, we will wait until tomorrow to see if Southend have reconsidered our case. Nevertheless, I’m going to look into making the Welsh Harp Reservoir more appealing, rather than a contingency.