Over the weekend I finally got a good chunk of silent time to sit with the story of Boy Chases Girl.
The story, for the most part, has lived in note books and parts of it in script format for a while now. But over the weekend I wanted to map the inner emotional sub-text to physical actions as a test of the functionality of the story.
This of course always leads to changes and that is a good thing. Indeed it is the purpose of the exercise! Cause and effect are as much a part of storytelling as they are in so called real life!
I started Friday night:
And this is where I ended on Sunday afternoon:
This is essentially an old-school mind map.
As you will see there are five main acts to this story. You can see these by the five sticky notes off to the left of the pic.
The blue and pink notes are the emotional beats, while the yellow sticky notes underneath these are their corresponding physical actions.
I love this part of writing as it’s a chance to let the imagination run free. Just let it roam wherever it may but without letting the mind fall into vague sleepiness. Kind of like some forms of meditation really.
I also thought I would share part of a document I sent through to a producer about the project recently. Enjoy!!
Boy Chases Girl by Clarke Scott
Boy Chases Girl is a story about the development of LOVE. Not what we normally think love to be but rather the love to which the ancient Greek philosophers referred to as agape.
Spontaneous and unmotivated, agape is love grounded in the aspiration that another be well and happy. This kind of love is not motivated by one’s own aspirations or even preference for a particular outcome. It is unconditional in the purest sense. Indeed this kind of love is the love spoken of by Buddhists and called mettá or maitrí in Sanskrit. The etymology of the term mettá is often rendered as loving-kindness and I think this captures well the intent behind love in this purest sense of agape. For both are fundamentally a deep sense of caring—a strong yet gentle impulse to care.
To care and to be care about, this is the foundation of all romantic love. Yet this mutual and very symbiotic kind of love is hard won. It is hard won because while the genesis of love may be pure, as the years go by love can become mixed with resentment born of power-games, of pain from the things left unsaid, and even just plain old boredom. Love surely is a battlefield as Pat Benatar once remarked.
When things are going well in life there is a sense of what Aristotle called, eudaimonia. Often translated into happiness, eudaimonia is perhaps better thought of as well-being. It is a well-being that comes from within. It is what we bring to the world, not what we get from it that distinguishes eudaimonia from stimuli driven pleasure. When we bring this sense of well-being to close relationships then these relationships bring joy.
However I believe that when things are going wrong in relationships and arguments become the special of the day, we are actually fighting with ourselves—with our own fears and doubts. When fear of abandonment manifests into an argument over how much flirting is too much flirting, what is the real issue here? These themes are dealt with directly in chapter 3. Suffice it to say, it is only through the transformation of love from one based on the physical to one based on the mental that relationships survive longer term. And similarly it is only once the physical has become mental that the ego can be slain—the basis for unconditional love.
Ron Howard once said that film narrative is about mapping basic human emotions to interesting actions. And Kazan before him famously told us that we are trying to make the psychological, physical. In this regard, Boy Chases Girl is a map of sorts— the cartography of love if you like. It maps an argument (in the philosophical sense) for the potential to develop love in this purest sense. It argues that agape or mettá is both real and possible—even if only after a lifetime of struggle. Indeed perhaps only after a lifetime of struggle.
Boy Chases Girl has five distinct acts or chapters. Each chapter follows a boy and a girl at various ages as they deal with life, themselves, and each other. Each chapter focuses on a specific aspect of the development of love. From that initial spark in a young boy through to love beyond ego, Boy Chases Girl is a love story about love itself. It is a drama about human potential—the potential to love and to be loved.
1. The birth of love (10 year olds)
2. The exploration of love (20 yr)
3. The transformation of love (40 yr)
4. The maturing of love (60 yr)
5. The transcendence of love (80 yr)
Each chapter is roughly 15-20 minutes in length and could be shot as five short films.
Given the large chumps of time between each chapter we do not have to be too concerned about finding actors that look the same over the course of the five chapters. This will allow us to find the right boy and the right girl for each chapter, and to make certain the two are thoroughly engaging together.
The camera work, too, is a representation of some aspect of each chapter. For instance, wider lenses and flowing camera moves represent childhood in chapter one—the world just looks much bigger when you’re ten. A hand-held camera lets you live the chaos of life when you are in your twenties, while a conscious-camera esthetic provides a foreboding that helps represent resentment and boredom that can build in relationships over time.
Talking about time: the transitions between chapters occur as camera moves rather than cuts. For instance, as we move from chapters one to two there is a very slow, sweeping, and continuous 360-degree pan. Starting on the girl the camera begins to move as the boy runs away after a failed first kiss initiated by the girl, and then back to the same position only ten years later to find a beautiful young woman standing there. Who then calls out to camera right—the same direction as the previous boy ran off. Then walks towards this person. The camera is now hand-held and swings round to find the young woman walking down an inner city laneway after a young man…as we follow her…we are into chapter two.
This slow moving 360-degree pan should make us feel the way life can feel to young people. Slow! Yet it is not boring as the sound design carries the narrative elements that will engage. For instance, as the boy runs off we hear this and yet the camera moves painfully slow to catch up to him. Are we there yet? Are we there yet?! The audience feels this wait as young people feel the wait of growing up. As it reaches the boy (at 180-degrees) the camera does not stop as you might expect. Rather it continues on at the same pace and in the same direction as before. Just like life.
The transition between chapters two and three is perhaps even more philosophically and viscerally arresting (at least the image in my mind is!), and a key vision that represents the years between ages 20 to 40.
What we see in the final scene of chapter two (the exploration of love) is a love scene where in the end and only after some heavy petting the girl is placed willingly on her hands and knees as the boy enters her. They begin to make love. It is the culmination of their “exploration.” It is beautiful. Gentle. Not at all demeaning—although it should be very provocative.
Then the transition: bedroom at night. Poorly lit. We are side on to the camera. A 50mm lens close to the action means we only see parts of bodies as they sway rhythmically in the frame from left to right. Then in one continuous shot we track slowly down his body. At first we see his chest moving in and out of frame. We continue to move slowly down his body pass his stomach, then hips, and then begin to move along her body. Slowly slowly the camera creeps along as she moves back and forth in frame. We are close enough that we cannot make out her entire body and as we continue towards her upper area we begin to make out the shape of a breast. Then, as we reach her head, the camera stops to reveal the face of a 40 year old woman. She looks bored. Going through the motions. Suddenly we hear the sound of a baby crying in another room. She stops abruptly. Almost relieved. She gets up from the bed and puts a dressing gown on then quickly walks off camera to attend to the baby. The camera does not move. Then after a beat a 40 year old man flops down headfirst into frame. He rolls onto his back. He is confused and slightly annoyed at what just happened! …and we are into chapter three.
The other transitions are similar but for the sake of brevity I have left them out here. I believe this gives a good sense of the vision and the themes I want to explore in this piece.
More to come…