I like long haul projects, the films you plan for months and spend years finishing, but I’m always trying to figure out how to retain a certain level of spontaneity during a shoot, and by the time you get everything prepared on a big production, and everyone is assembled, it can start to feel a little militaristic. I keep trying to simplify the process, to get everything extraneous out of the way. A lot of people tell you all kinds of things are needed to make a film. Really I think you just need a sense of story, and imagination. They’re not the same thing, but the one helps the other. Cameras are increasingly lightweight, and easier to use. With the right kind of approach – an open one, maybe – you can get at interesting things.
We filmed this short in an afternoon. Rather than plan a character over a long period of time, we looked in our closets, and put something together. We tried to figure out who this woman is as we shot. We filmed in our back yard, with what we found there. It made me pay attention to the space we were in a lot differently, because I wasn’t necessarily trying to make it conform to a preconceived idea. We used the weather we were given. A dog roamed into the yard and we used him too.
We’d been talking for a while about making a silent movie. I still have plans to shoot a larger one, something a little more ambitious, but this is good practice. I think of films like this as sketches. And we had such a good time I think we’ll keep following this woman, whoever she is, to see where she takes us. Last weekend we went back out into the yard to pick up where we left off. We invited another friend to create another character. I made some notes and drew a storyboard a few days in advance and we loosely followed those. I’ve been looking at comic books, which seem to me to have a lot in common with silent films, the ratio of image to text and the way these little bits propel a story. I’ve been thinking about serialized stories, too, because I like the way they give you an opportunity to think a lot between each segment or episode. So we’ll maybe follow this woman with no real agenda and see what avenues it leads down.