The geography of a film

My first memory of planning Somniscience (long before I’d dreamed up that title) is in a cafe called the Boston Tea Party on Park street in Bristol, England. In my mind’s eye I can see the diagram I’d drawn of the the different sections of the film and the different people/resources I would need for each part. I had glued in a picture of a girl with a paper mache rabbit head covering her actual head. That was four year ago now, on a different continent and long before many many dollars, pounds, and souls had become invested in the project.

About a year later, I was down in New Orleans visiting my Aunt and Uncle when I felt ready to write it all down. I’d been reading Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand faces (ca. 1970 copy full of underlines and notations in all the wrong places) and suddenly the meanderings of my sleeping brain seemed connected on an essential level to myth and I felt excited to transmute my dreams into a sort of script.

I spent a couple days writing, a year re-drafting and then the following summer gathered together a small cast and crew to help me make the script into a piece of live action video art. Once I had cast the two main parts I set a date to meet them in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Rather than act out the script-which had minimal dialogue- I thought it better to take my two leads on a date. Having provided them with some information about their characters I let the two roam around the amusement park together to “get to know each other”. No one had an office, there was no outside funding and we were spread out across 3 boroughs so my only choice was to embrace the separation.

How did it work? Well, the producer, DP and I met mostly in cafe’s and bars and occasionally someone’s apartment. Camera tests and location scouts took us all across the city, and meetings were squeezed in around day jobs.

After the initial “date” I rehearsed with the actors via email. Rather than trying to find a time for the three of us to meet (which was near impossible), before each shoot day I moderated a series of emails between the two leads. We tried this first straight after the initial date – the two wrote back and forth in the excited and somewhat awkward way you do at the beginning of something. They talked about the date and made plans for the future. About a month later it came time to shoot a scene set post break-up, this time the email exchange was an excruciating affair full of frustration and blame. The two got completely on board and I was thrilled and inspired by how much they committed to this email rehearsal.

Over the summer the cast and crew came together on the beach at Coney Island, the front yard of a friend’s house in Ditmas Park Brooklyn, a back yard pool deep far into Long Island, my own bedroom, my sister’s bedroom, and a roof on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Everyday was long, the weather almost never cooperated, and yet we managed to shoot everything we needed before October came and being outside became out of the question.

Where has my peripatetic film landed? Well currently it sits in a very large harddrive (built by a close friend on the UES) in the beginning stages of editing. This itinerant project will reside for a while in my apartment and then with any luck before too long it will take flight again to be shown in galleries and festivals around the country. I think filmmaking by nature is peripatetic; even those lucky enough to have studios and offices find themselves wandering- working late at night and early in the morning in the strangest of places. In many ways this is one of the things that drew me to this line of work- you get a passport to a whole different world and you get to share that with a variety of people all dedicated to making something unique. And while sometimes I find myself experiencing desk envy, I figure for now I’m happy to work at a coffee shop, or on my couch, or my friend’s couch, or the garden, or the beach, or the subway…and perhaps someday I too will have a nice studio to call home.

You can see examples of my work including stills from Somniscience at samanthaLLsilver.com. To keep up to date on two.5’s latest work check out our process blog http://twopoint5.co.uk or follow us on twitter: @twopoint_5