It's not mine for much longer. The actors and locations are set. The schedule is 90% done. It's all happening, soon it will be time to get it done and once that process is underway I have less of an important creative role. I don't mind. I can't wait to see what happens. Plus I know that I will need to be ready to make key action and dialogue decisions in the thick of it, such is the collaborative nature of the work I do with Justin, the director.
For now though, it is still mine, barely. And that is a nice feeling.
I wonder what will come of the story and the characters once they exist of the page. It's quietly terrifying and exhilarating. I have a lot of pride for this piece of work. It has moved from something I did for a project I was developing to something that I feel ready to stand behind artistically and emotionally. The response to it from Justin, from the actors, from Steve Maclean who I trust implicitly with my work, has seen to that.
Justin has a Steve he trusts in the same way. His name is Stephen Keep Mills and he's a brilliant filmmaker and old friend of ours. Knowing that he loves it and that he sees it as I see it, and as Justin sees it, is so invigorating.
Here's what he said about the script:
Hey, Justin and Neil—I enjoyed being in The Wilderness! You have a very viable story and I was always wondering what would happen next—not to them, but between them. You have really caught the dilemma and brought the story within the tension of the two main players and that’s a great accomplishment. I don’t think you need to worry about John’s like-ability. We understand that they both are fighting for their lives and constantly recalibrating what’s real against what has been pre-wished. All emotions are strategic arrows in their separate quivers and they use as many as they think they need to keep from being slaughtered by the other. In playing this, don’t be afraid to let silences come in and banalities blow around like dandelions—we know a cloud is lurking, darkening, and on its way to breaking. The actors need to carry all the weight with them even when they seem least concerned, so that confrontations can come in strong and out of the blue. It’s kind of a Dance of Death wrapped up in the everyday—even when “normal” we can’t escape the always-near possibility of domestic rawness. When John and Alice start using crude language vs. each other—that’s a release of violence for them and marks an effort to break down walls that have become dangerous—so let the actors really get on fire with the fight which at that point needs that kind of weapon-talk. I like their isolation filled as it is with bucolic lures as well as the kindling of danger. Something is going to happen to them—each other! Find ways the characters of John and Alice have mastered confidence and find ways they are so vulnerable and far away. A great take on relationships and I like that you get to experiment and find out things you don’t know now. Good bones! And the best thing is that you will do it. That’s everything. Keep me posted. And let all those questions further you and not give you too much pause. The answer is in the action. Find it there. Steve
When people write things like this about your work it refocuses the energy on what's important, which is the work. Questions of what happens beyond the finished thing start to pale because the work has already touched people and if we can capture that on screen then it will touch people, and that is what counts. How many people seems irrelevant.
The past couple of weeks I have been fortunate enough to talk with filmmakers including Kim Longinotto, Mark Jenkin and John Maclean and I've been invigorated and inspired by their approach to the form. They echo my sincerest beliefs - in the form, in being uncompromising, in searching for something honest - and have provided really key reminders of what matters as we get close to zero hour.
I'm enjoying the words on the page, feeling satisfied and honoured and excited.