Anatomy of the Creation Process
Darkness v Light
The main theme symbolised with the white lily explores the duality of opposites and the need of the existence of the parallels as one; darkness and light, death and rebirth, purity and sensuality. Susie’s Poem at the end of the film exposes the paradox and the moral of the story we have followed, in which each individual struggles with the darkest side in them and each longs for a way to reconcile and integrate the darkness within their personality through their roles in METHOD. The poem concludes that the equal acceptance of both “sides of a coin” results in freedom.
The interrogation setting was designed to produce a sense of mystery and expectation.The atmosphere wanting to recreate a womb, where creation is taking place.
Actors and director go through a series of Method exercises in the journey towards building a character, the process is possible by allowing the death of self or ego, constructing from a natural state of being.
The lighting design to create the desired atmosphere provides the suggestion of an intimidating space where one or more people are being put to the test. We made different choices as to how simulate the interrogation space to evoke feelings of uneasiness. We used coloured dimmed lights, orange, three point lighting combined with LED soft front light to highlight the hair of the unseen interrogator, soft front light to illuminate the subject together with hard side lighting on an angle, to create a sharp and definite spotlight on the subject. We then tried intense focused lighting point coming from directly above the subject’s head, this proved ideal if we wanted to give our character the sinister look, which the main character, Danny, would grow into as the film reached its peak. We added cold soft light in the foreground so as to intensify the presence of the interrogator and audience.
A contrasting combination of light and darkness on the face of the main character to represent the unknown, possible fear, mystery and conflict, all these suggested a wide range of possibilities as to where the scene was heading; rising the expectations of our audience. The unseen interrogator remains slightly exposed yet strongly represented with low key/high contrast bathed in shadow.
Casting: While casting METHOD I was aware that I would need actors who are experienced with method acting and conventional acting training technics.
Due to the complexity of the theme; a film within a film and Characters creating a character, a real love triangle reflected on a make belief, fake or movie love triangle, a history of past hurts and traumas, regarding parental relationships. Love carrying emotional baggage with the unwillingness to let go and the struggle with the loss of a loved one.
What started of as a “boy meets girl and it all goes wrong” film, became a very different and much more complicated story.
We start with the conflict between brothers for the love a woman and we then discover that this conflict originated during their childhood, as it seems that the siblings have always been rivals over the love of their mother. They have always been jealous of each other. Be it because their mother treated them unfairly or because one or both brothers draw towards the edge of a relationship that leads to jealousy and insecurity instead of love. The love triangle serves to bring to the surface the character traits to be dealt with, faced up to and embraced.
Danny is the modern hero; the protagonist who we draw to love and like to then discover he is actually the bad one. Danny’s exhilarating energy, confidence and charm is in fact hiding a whole different self, a man full of anger, who is egocentric and insecure. His entire life, his flat, clean and lineal, shows the way he handles himself, many clothes, through smart up sessions, his job; a charismatic actor, all this helps him and aids him in hiding who he really is and what he feels, which is total indifference towards the rest of people, an obsessive need to protect himself and most of all anger. He is not to find reconciliation, although he goes through the path in his attempt to be liked, and of conquering love yet his dark nature does not allow reconciliation.
Susie struggles with the loss of a loved one, her feelings and emotions serve to achieve her goals, yet this prevents her from letting her go of grieve, alienating her and putting her aside from the rest of people, to wonder indefinitely in the her own world of pain, for better or for worst.
The pair makes perfect opposites yet totally incompatible because they both cling to their dark sides and are unable to allow room for light, joy or love. They base their living upon this thick darkness that has become as essential as air. On the other hand, Simon and Monica try to constantly renew their beings, even if with difficulty they are bound to find reconciliation with their dark side through their love.
The outsider theories…
Ego v Angel
Danny’s Ego versus Susie Ghost/Angel
Biutiful v METHOD
“BIUTIFUL” 2010 Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu. Spain.
Biutiful = A man who is trying his best.
In the past when I wrote a story I usually felt I had decent characters but only until I watched “Biutiful” a feature film by the Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu.
An entire life story shown within the first minutes; the depth of an invented personality expressed thoroughly within a few words out of his mouth. Sheer darkness enveloping, screaming: “secrets are about to be revealed!” Thick anguish so palpable, a thrilling mixture of bittersweet innocence and cruelty. This is what Alejandro’s character, Uxbal (Javier Bardem), a man living in this world but able to see death, played by Javier Bardem, did for me. Within the first two minutes of meeting him I really wanted to know him better. Regardless of the type of story Uxbal was about to tell, I so desperately wanted to hear it.
My favourite lesson from “Biutiful” after characterisation was on location: how Alejandro boldly takes over the main streets of the amazing city of Barcelona and he shots a scene of calm and pleasant order rapidly turning into massive chaos, within seconds, with catastrophic consequences. It was so ugly it was amazing to watch. It made me feel that you really need some guts to be an impacting filmmaker.
Do I have that sort of guts? would I dare to do what Alejandro did with the city of Gaudi? I don’t know, but to dare considering it is a step forward.
Regarding script and cinematography “Certify Copy” 2010, Abbas Kiarostami, Italy: Certify Copy’s the subtext presents an intriguing world of possibilities. Giving value to all that is not said or shown in the film truly allowing the imagination of the audience to do as it pleases. The creative shots and incredible use of mirrors and reflections combined with natural light inspired some of Susie’s most intimate moments in METHOD, yet to be shot.
For the editing I chose to learn from “Red Lights” 2012, Rodrigo Cortes, USA. Rodrigo Cortes’s camera movement and editing goes beyond the conventional.
Also the contradiction between the protagonist and the antagonist makes an interesting setting; the supposed antagonist played by Robert Deniro puts us in conflict with our own believes, we have been educated to believe in the paranormal, yet the protagonist is telling as that is it all lies, it seems like the filmmaker wants to convince us of the opposite to our believes. In our society we are educated through the media, especially film, to put faith above science. It is indeed a moral dilemma that Cortes solves by giving us the answer we want, he in the end allows us to continue to have faith in the impossible with an extraordinary resolution.
Here the fact that it is our beliefs as viewers that determine what moral dilemma we are dealing with is conclusive. It is up to us how important the dilemma is and how it should be resolved. The writer will give peace to some of us yet will disappoint others. Targeting culture and society is critical. To be successful we need to know what our audience desires what they believe in and what beliefs they would let go of easily or not. Cortes does this brilliantly.
Danny v Uxbal
The outsider making peace, Uxbal,
Character: he has a gift= evil? Yes he has made bad choices?=on the wrong side, =trying to do his best, =society is to blame=he has a great affliction= life is hard on him= on everyone! But he has a terrible affliction= does his affliction save him, do we forgive him because of it. Only if he lets go, he does, he has not choice in the end. His tragic ending makes him likable.
Moral Dilemma: Uxbal does all the evil to care for the ones he needs to save. In a parallel Danny is the way he is because he also is trying his best. Do we forgive him? No, Danny does not let go. Cleverly Alejandro gives us the right conclusion for Uxbal in one sentence, one of the lines spoken by the friend and councillor, brings peace to Uxbal or at least to me, the viewer.
Abbas Kiarostami Magic reflections versus Susie’s location. The Cinematography/Art direction in Abbas’s “Certified Copy” What a feast of artistic beautifully arranged frames. At the art gallery/shop, stonewalls, tasteful sculptures surround, light point strategically put in disguise of elegant lamps adding atmosphere. Also the reflection of the city of Tuscany, on the car’s windshield, while they are driving away whilst having a flirtatious chat: we can now see antique large buildings, people walking in the street, the blue sky, all without loosing sight of the loving couple’s close up.
METHOD drives the detailed exploration of character, thought, line of action, history and background, afflictions, dream and desires, fears and secrets.