Justin suggested we play around with the formatting of the screenplay. The script at present is 60 pages. Standard thinking suggests that equals 60 minutes. The film will be longer and there are things I've left out of the script that I want the actors to bring to the process.
Justin suggested putting those questions into the script. I've done that, alongside some thoughts and some ellipses that denote the slow passing of time that again, will be filled by the actors and the physical ideas they bring to the work.
I've done something I tell my students never to do. I tell them they have to earn the right to mess around with standardised formatting. However I'm messing around with standardised formatting. Have I earned it? I hope so. I know the script will be read by sympathetic readers (and there is a standard format version too) and that's why it felt like something could be done. Part of me enjoyed the rebellion, and I think that is partly why Justin suggested it. Everything about Wilderness feels like a fuck you. In a good way.
I'm also breaking the rules with my 'drafts'. Every time I change something of note I call that a draft. It doesn't have to be big, only significant. This is for teaching and for when I disseminate the project through research. To be fair, there will probably only be two drafts before we do final development with actors.
People will say that's a bad thing, that you need more drafts than that. But we don't have time and it's not that kind of project. We have never worked that way.
Justin and I have always been instinctual. We've always gone with our gut and it's rarely led us wrong. We can look back at the times it did with criticality and distance.
We believe in this story and this telling and for now that's enough. There's a lot of work to do - some significant changes, some tinkering. We are ready for it.
The script has gone to the actors who are auditioning. The whole script. We know this is unusual but we are asking a lot of the actors we bring on board in terms of intimate scenes and also the level of improvisational development they will bring to the project.
The script has also gone out to the students working on the project. I'm curious to see how they respond to it. Both emotionally, and as a tool.
I've compiled a list of films for students to watch for reference - Faces, Opening Night and Too Late Blues by Cassavetes, 45 Years, All Night Long, The Broken Circle Breakdown. Justin mentioned the party scene in Listen Up Philip which is a great call. It also made me think that Queen of Earth, also directed by our friend Alex Ross Perry, is a great reference point. One of the actresses auditioning said the script reminded her of this short film, Actresses.
I watched it and think she is spot on. Tonally and in terms of the content it feels like a close relative of what we are doing, in a good way.
I've been listening to a lot of jazz. Justin recommended an 8-disc CD set of New Wave and 1960s films with jazz scores. I picked up Vols 1 and 2 and have been devouring them. They have been great at contextualising the tone and period we are going for. There's something about that era of jazz scores that elevates the films emotionally and gives them a complex resonance.
I also compiled (for the students) a Spotify playlist with the songs that captured my mood and imagination as I was writing and developing the script. You can listen here.
When I told my girlfriend what the story was she told me it sounded like Ian McEwan's novel On Chesil Beach. When I told a colleague the story he said the same thing. I was reminded of what my girlfriend said and ordered it. I'm starting it tonight
And I have put it on the reference list. I trust my love that much.
One strangely resonant piece of content is Louis C.K.'s latest endeavour Horace and Pete. I don't know if it's because I just adore it. It is full of space, of quiet, of silence. It takes its time and delivers raw, human emotion. It's funny, of course, but it's so much more. It aches and it's confused and it's sad and it's angry and it just wants it all to be over. It's a delicate thing that is overwhelming. So it's on the list.