Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why Once You Leave? Why Now? (pt. 1)

Why Once You Leave?  
Why would someone in this day and age of consumerism, short attention spans and an overall increase in cynical dissociation, create an intensely dramatic series that takes it's time in a deliberate pacing as it explores visceral moments and emotions and then house it all on the web with longer running times than the current norm (for a web series)? To answer that whopper, I think to understand the inspirations is the first step.  Two of the earliest for me (Nate) were:

1. Visiting my sister and brother-in-law out on their land in Goliad, TX

What inspiration could possibly come out of this family gathering?  This visiting of someone out in the country and living in their world for a bit?  Walking through the fields of 
grass, sitting by the fire while 
grilling up some grub and 
watching the sun set?  The answer: peace.
It brought peace and a clear mind.

In episode 1.02: a change of plans Kayla arrives at the Anderson's ranch where Rachel had worked.  Kayla doesn't know herself and she definitely hasn't a clue on what to do or where to go when she receives the shocking news that the Andersons deliver.  So she spends the day with the them.  Lives in their world for awhile, which at one point was Rachel's world too.  And maybe this will bring her closer to Rachel, maybe this will answer the questions that are burning through Kayla's soul.  Sometimes stepping outside our world gives us the answers that we can't find while in our world...

I originally wanted to use my sister and brother-in-law's land for shooting.  I even considered using them as actors (very cinema vérité-style).  But ultimately it couldn't happen in the way that the project needed. So a search ensued for land, a creek and actors.

Inspirations: mock-up at the creek

After we found a location to use as the creek I created a mock-up picture for inspiration (right):

which was basically just a still I took of the creek and fallen tree and some images from the web as "stand-ins"

Originally, Once You Leave was supposed to be more quirky and less drama but once I got the idea to have Rachel be dead, everything changed...  So where did this idea of quirky situations occuring while being out on the road originally come from?

2. Being out on the road shooting for The Daytripper

Kayla (the actress, not character) interned for The Daytripper one summer while I was shooting and co-producing it again**.  We had known each other before, a little, but we became great buds while being silly for all the antics that occur on Daytripper shoots.  While traveling, Kayla kept talking about wanting more exposure as an actress and I kept pining to create some dramatic material.  Then we we thought, hey, let's make something!!      So we did!!! (more to come on this story) 
**- for more info on my involvement with The Daytripper click here

I then went to work on studying books, poetry, various articles, wikipedia, music and of course film.  

1. Three Colors: Blue (1993 dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski)
The story of a woman that loses everything and in exchange finds liberation.  Blue is the first part of a trilogy of films followed by White and Red that form the colors of the French Flag and stand for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity respectively. These themes are explored within each film.  Blue deals with Liberty, Freedom.  It's probably my favorite of the three and one of my favorite films of all-time.  

2. Wendy and Lucy (2008 dir. Kelly Reichardt)
A simple and quiet story of a woman and her dog on the road searching for work who get sidetracked when their car breaks down and the dog goes missing.  Some parts of this film are emotionally devastating but the story is told with such a minimal grace.  It's realistic, beautiful and quite haunting. 

3.  The Dreamlife of Angels (1998 dir. Erick Zonca)
A down on her luck drifter moves in with a penniless depressed woman who's flat-sitting and the two strike up a manic friendship.  I caught this film on the Sundance Channel many years ago at around 2:00 am and couldn't turn away.  Not because it's filled with action or quirky dialog but because the two female leads are extraordinary to watch.  Their relationship is heart-warming at times and then turns cold and distant as the tension slowly comes to a boil. It's fantastic!

And finally...

4.  Chungking Express (1994 dir. Wong Kar Wai)
A quirky love and love-lossed story broken into two parts about two different cops and their search for romance, among other things.  This film is beautiful.  The cinematography by Christopher Doyle is outstanding and a huge inspiration.  Many scenes were shot hand-held and supposedly only with available light from lamps and coming in through windows.  Plus the hip soundtrack is killer making this a piece of pop art gold and a modern take on the style of films from the French New Wave.  

Inspiration can come in many forms and at many times.  Sometimes it hits me over the head, sometimes it quietly whispers in my ear but I always try to make it mine and apply it accordingly.
We had many more inspirations which we'll continue to cover in upcoming entries.  The biggest driving force both Kayla and I shared was the need to create and express ourselves. [to be continued]

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