Mar 9, 2015

‘LIFELESS’ – Evolution of an Idea

Every now and then I write an update on the state of the feature film I’m writing at the time, detailing how the idea has shifted from its first iteration, through the various stages. Yesterday, something clicked whilst working on the script. Imm nearing the end of the penultimate draft, and whilst taking a break, came across a quote that (though not the first time it’s been said) changed (or synched up with what I was always trying to do) what the film would be about for me – suggesting If you took away all pain, if everyone lived forever, everything would be bland boring, there would be no reason for art because we would all be in a mono state of happiness. For a few weeks now, I’ve been struggling with what the film was really about for me. It’s been too vague an idea throughout, and though I’m really confident with the structure, pacing, characters, and key scenes, something was missing for me. For the most part I was worrying if I was simply “selling out” by making a film I knew would be easier to watch, constructed quite formally, which would be more entertaining, but still retaining a message (the age-old Art vs. Commerce issue). It’s been a real struggle to keep on with the project, without feeling I have something personal to say, or a style to apply. What was really missing was the soul of the film, namely in the lead female character. Normally I build a character and then the story from there. This time I’ve built the world, filled it with characters (that I love), and then plonked the lead character in that world. A big part of the film was (and still is) acting against the cultural norms of the time. In earlier drafts, the idea I was focussed on was how bad I imagined the country could be if UKIP were to get in to power. A lot of those ideas have stuck (though now more background elements), but it was too easy to just become another dystopian future film, and ‘Children of Men’ had already done that better than I ever could.

Art vs. Monoculture

A key word that keeps cropping up for me is Monoculture. Earlier this year I came across Alain de Botton’s great ‘Art as Therapy’, treating Art as a form of religion almost, as a reason to live, express life, and even a way of enjoying life – below is a video shortened down from the 45 minute speech I saw, to a five minute long animated guide


Something I really believe in (the opposite of Woody Allen’s often-quoted belief that he’d rather have another year of life than make a masterpiece, given the choice) is sacrifice for, and the importance of, art. A big focus of the film is “the 1%” – the rich getting richer and gaining more power, and control of a populace. As a result of huge corporations, generally everyone looks the same, watches and listens to the same things, behaves the same, eats the same foods (predominantly processed) and have similar (trivial) aspirations. When it all clicked for me whilst writing yesterday, the term that really stuck was ‘Art vs. Monoculture’. It created a moment in which a pivotal scene in the film suddenly became personal for me, and opened up what the film’s soul could be. below is an excerpt.


Now the film is about how Art can be used to tackle Monoculture. In doing some research on the topic (because someone’s already thought about and written something on everything) I was surprised to see how the term Monoculture actually applied to agriculture more than in the way I had been interpreting it, in that growing a singular crop, to the detriment…okay that bit can sound boring so just look it up if you’re interested…it all ties in with what the fictional organisation ‘Spectrum’, at the centre of the film, are all about, and their effect on the world – nice coincidence.
I’ll leave this odd, rambling blog post with the following quote:
“As Monoculture suggests, art itself has long been part of the process through which each age figures its ideal of beauty, and yet it is also through art – the proliferation of constructions, linkages, meanings, interpretations – that this narrow privileging can be both highlighted and undercut. There’s always a kind of violence in the construction of identity, a violence that often involves art. But the horror of monoculture is that what is lost in the construction of a uniform ideal – bees, diversity, agency, dissent – are perhaps the very things that make such an ideal possible in the first place” Tom Jeffreys, The Journal of Wild Culture (02/13)

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