Friday, December 18, 2009

Case Study - "Freeze-Frame"

Another question I usually get asked as a writer is, "what sort of things do you write about?" Well, a strong recurring theme in all my work is a blurring of fantasy and reality in many and varied ways - parallel worlds, fantasy constructs, the supernatural, the masks and disguises we wear to hide our true reality, the self-delusions we create. Not sure why or what that says about me but that's probably another discussion!

The short film Freeze-Frame, produced by Serena Ryan and directed by Iain Dawson, is a prime example of this duality. In this case, though, it was a script I never quite nailed. Too many ideas, too complicated and not clear what is real and what is imagined by the main character.

The original idea was that a jogger discovers a camera on the foreshore and accidentally takes a picture of himself which implicates him in a heinous crime. A friend read an early breakdown and offered, "what if he really did it?" That lead to the whole idea of the victim being the jogger's wife. In the story, the wife has left him for another man and he has photos from a private investigator of their illicit liaisons. The discovery of the camera leads him to fantasise about killing her (while he continues to jog) as he is unable to deal with his anger and bitterness at her betrayal. The laundry sequences, the second visit to the chemist, the detective interview, for example, are therefore all totally imagined.

The notion was that the act of unleashing his dark side is what eventually allows him to heal and achieve some form of closure. An unconventional thought but one I liked very much.

So this no-budget short is an insight into a developing story style that I continue to deploy - The Tangled Web has a heightened parallel world (cyberspace), The Red Bride plays with hallucination versus supernatural manifestation, Hotel Blue explores a fantasy construct created by self-delusion and the upcoming Trench could combine several of these facets, wrapped up in a pseudo-war genre.

Looking back at Freeze-Frame, the short is not the ideal format for this sort of layering. Immortal is also a complicated short script with a character in the grip of self-delusion. Neither script received funding support though Freeze-Frame was short-listed for FTI's Link programme a couple of years ago. THAT was an interesting panel interview!

So the lesson learnt is that features are the way to go to explore "the fantasies we create to deal with the realities of our lives".

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