Articles Tagged with: A Thousand Moments Later
A Thousand Moments Later—A Voiceover

Below is a working document for the voice-over of my first feature film, A Thousand Moments Later. But note that the following may not in any way reflect the final cut of the voice-over in the movie. It is more of a way for me to write and create and set a scene for the actor to come in and record. Writing this voiceover has been an organic process. One that evolved over time and as more and more pieces are involved. despite this I thought someone out there might find it mildly interesting and so here it is.

** UPDATE**

I had Chris Farrell come in and record a little voiceover dialogue from which I could then rewrote bits and change them etc.

I spent a great deal of time on the voice-over for this film. Thinking. Writing. Writing. Then some more thinking! You can see some of the work I did for the voiceover outline here.

The voiceover is split into two parts. The first part begins as the movie opens – introducing the character of Ryan and explaining a little, but hopefully not too much, of what is to come.

The second part, also below, ends the film and explains what just happened. They function a little like bookends – allowing the narrative in between to stand alone but also as a means or point(s)-in-time that allow one to get into and out of the narrative without much backstory.

In the bonus material for the film (which will be available for purchase as bonus content once we have released the film) I go into my writing process in detail. I explain how I used Aristotelian dramatic theory and the cathartic moment to build out the entire narrative of the film – the voiceover plays a vital role in this dramatic structure. It’s super interesting (Artitstotles theory that is!) and I go into detail about the relationship between the cathartic moment and my film. For those interested there is also a 20minutes behind the scenes video of the voiceover recording session where you can hear Chris delivering the voiceover and the notes I gave him on the day.

After much pain…below is the final version of the voice-over and thank you Chris for all you hard work mate!

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PART ONE

Dear Emily,

After all that’s happened I wanted to write to you. Not simply to explain myself or even explain away what happened. But rather to go beyond the what and into why it happened. I know you can’t read this right now but I wanted to write it all the same. Before everything changes. Before we all move on. Before some things are forgotten, and others are left unsaid. I hope in time, you will read it, and understand.

Sometimes it happens—we get lost. Lost in thought. Lost in time. Lost in life. And yet these times—times when everything seems upside down—can be the best of times because they can give us new views on old truths and provide us with a fresh perspective.

This much is true: We all want happiness and don’t want suffering, and it’s obvious on reflection that what we all seek is not the kind of happiness born of sheer hedonism but, real happiness that is both genuine and deep.

And while it has been said countless time through history that we are restless in seeking the good life. A life that goes well. A life with meaning. A life where we are loved and we have the chance to love. A love that goes beyond the ordinary. Yet for most people this kind of love only comes through change. A change of views and old habits that bind us into seeing ourselves, others, and the world around us in a certain kind of way.

But this kind of change never comes easy. This kind of love is hard won. Indeed this kind of life, is hard won.

And yet if we are the author and the protagonist of our own life’s story, and the arc of this change is embedded in the challenges we face, then it is to ourselves we must turn, not others.

We must write into the story of our own life, challenges that only we can face. Challenges that allow life to shape us. Mould us. Challenges that forge new perspectives; and give us the chance to see beyond our limited perspective.

I want this kind of life for you. A full life. A life of meaning. A Life of love and adventure. Where you can love and be loved. But this is not for me to choose. Only you can do this.

So by the time you read this, whether you are in the first or the last chapter of your own story, do not be afraid to live the life you want—remember it’s your life and no one else.

The road is open. Go. Explore. See the world. See yourself. Find yourself getting lost. Find yourself by getting lost.

For at the end of the day, it’s by losing our way that we transform; and only through this transformation will our lives become an expression of what we seek.

PART TWO

But none of this is easy. It’s not easy because sometimes these challenges are written for us. Everything but the ending.

The final chapter is for us to write. To tell it as we want. We can let these experiences crush us, or we can give ourselves over to the possibility of change.

We get to make this choice. And it is a choice.

**** ***** * ** *** **** ******** * *** **** ** ** *** ****.

*** ***** **** *** ****, **** ** * *****.

The last two line are obfuscated so as not to give away anything. If you’ve seen the movie you will know what they are and if not, then that is easily fixed. You can watch the movie here once we have released it.

This voiceover has been one of the most difficult things I have ever written. Not because the ideas are complex or the words particularly poetic but because it needed to serve as a narrative bridge between the start and end of the film. It also needed to say something interesting about the human condition, as well as give enough story information to allow the viewer of the film to piece things together as they unfolded during the story BUT not too much information as to give the whole thing away!

Suffice it to say, it was very difficult to write yet deeply satisfying to have completed the writing, then to have handed it over to the actor, have said actor work on it, and then hear it for the first time during the recording session.

But then more exciting when I plugged the voiceover back into the rough cut and seeing it as part of the film itself.

 


A Thousand Moments Later—Identity and Isolation

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Below is part of the outline I wrote for the voiceover for my film, A Thousand Moments Later.

Identity and Isolation

  1. a strong sense of self implicitly cuts one off the the others and creates a feeling of isolation.
  2. from here this sense of self becomes rigid. well defined. set in its own ways. Separate. Alone.

In the very process of creating identity is embedded a kind of isolation. That is, when we think “I am” we are carving ourSelf out from all that is not Self.

Not a big deal in most cases but inherent in this is the seed of all our problems and indeed all suffering. Why? Because it is fundamentally a misunderstanding how we actually exist in the world.

No one lives in total isolation. We live in a relation to other people and things. From a Buddhist point of view the conventionally existent self arises in the process of identity and is therefore dependent on the other for its existence. We are and have always been interdependent with all the people and things around us, and this is a good thing.

We are the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. To some extent we, therefore, are the authors of this story. Not in any new age kind of way but in a very deep philosophical and cognitive way. No you cannot manifest a new car or dream house but, you can change the story you tell yourself about the things that life dishes up. That much is true.

Therefore in order to fully understand and appreciate this way of being we need to ask questions about how we are, not who we are but, how we are – how we exist as a dependent relation.


A Thousand Moments Later—Voiceover Outline

In working on the voiceover for my film, A Thousand Moments Later  and I created this outline as a means of working through, in my head and out loud, the details of what it is that I’d like to say….but from my of a academic point of view. Or perhaps a better way of saying this is, this following outlines points at the meaning behind the voice-over, which I hope is much more beautiful than the following dry academic prose.

Outlines….they are always an interesting exercise. Indeed one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing for me. But it may not make a lot of sense because I write from the outside in. What I mean by this is I take the big picture and whittle my way into the details. This means that this kind of outline is both very important to my process, and never really a completed document. It has a life of it’s own and grows and chances constantly. Therefore, it may not make a great deal of sense to anyone but me.

Sorry for that. Still, I thought it might be interesting to someone out there. So here it is.

Each part reflects a section from the film. Making somewhat of a loose argument and expressing in it’s entirety the thesis and theme of the film.

  1. Self and Isolation
    1. a strong sense of self implicitly cuts one off the the others and creates a feeling of isolation.
    2. from here this sense of self becomes rigid. well defined. set in its own ways. Separate. Alone.
  2. Relation and The Other
    1.  When self is seen within the context of a relation a certain cognitive process can take place – what Martin Buber called the “I” “It” relation.
    2. (If viewed incorrectly ) Inherent in this relation is two seperate identities viewed as alone and wholly seperate. Me here; you over there.
    3. This leads to a kind of tension explicit in the division of the two.
    4. This then deepens the rigid sense of self as a seperate “thing” with it’s own likes and dislikes that are owned by only itSelf.
    5. When these are left unfulfilled tension implicit in this relation solidifies into resentment.
  3. Self & Other/Mereology
    1. But when two separate selves are viewed as something bigger than mere singles entities something else happens. This is technically name mereology — place enough timber together and in the right order and you can have a chair.
    2. What is it that gives rise to the feeling that we are greater than ourselves?
    3. What is it that creates this larger entity. When does a bunch of sticks become a chair?
    4. Clearly it is us that decides.
    5. But this choice to couple two person together and call it something else gives rise to a feeling of togetherness.
    6. And this is a conscious choice.
  4. Shared Identity & Eudaemonia.
    1. With a sense of you are bigger than yourSelf come a sense of well being.
    2. This comes because you are no longer focused on yourSelf.
    3. You begin to focus on this shared identity rather than just your own perspective.
    4. The mind become larger, wider, deeper.
  5. Dependence & Imbalance
    1. But if this shared identity is taken to be the source of happiness for oneSelf then there is an cognitive imbalance. That is to say, a sense of well-being can come from a shared identity but not always.
    2. This belief will grow into a feeling of dependence. As if your happiness is dependent on this thing that is separate from you.
    3. When this is done you’ve in effect created a self identity and thus another “I” and “It”. Only the “It” is the relation itself and not another person.
    4. This happens mostly at a level of consciousness that is below ordinary thinking. At a feeling tone. Something spoken without words.
    5. At this point it has turned dysfunctional. That is, the shared identity is no longer shared and as a result it has broken down.
  6. Loss of Self (Control)
    1. Implicit in this feeling of dependence is a feeling of a lack of control – as if one’s Self is dependent on this shared identity for it’s existence.
    2. From there feelings of losing yourSelf arise.
    3. And from there ridigness and confusion
    4. Blaming the other for this loss of control may arise because the subtle shift from shared identity, to imbalance, to dysfunction was not noticed.
    5. This can result in one lashing out at the perceived source of misery.
    6. Removing oneSelf from the experience is the only option.
  7. We Always Have Choice
    1. There is in fact little one can do at this point.
    2. Something must change. Something will change. Whether you want it to or not.
    3. In the end the only thing you can do is choice. Not making a choice is still a choice. It is a choice to act in the same dysfunctional manner you’ve been doing so far.
    4. So you must be brave, believe in your own potential, and jump.
    5. What is this jump? It is the simple act of choosing.
    6. If you want to be alone, choose that.
    7. If you want a sense of togetherness and well-being that is greater than oneSelf, choose that.
    8. But to do so one must redefine love as something that you give rather than something you get if a shared identity is to remain in balance and this requires a conscious ongoing choice to give.
    9. Therefore, in the end, to love, is to choice to love.

(In Buddhism love is defined as an aspiration or wish that one or many have happiness and it’s causes. It is therefore something we give and thus a very different way of viewing “love.” )

This is a working document. It may change over time. And I may in fact create articles for each section.


Into the Given Part 3 — A choice the premise

As part of the pre-production process for my upcoming film, A Thousand Moments Later, I put together a document for the actors and crew to give them something to think over. The document contained some prose and some reference photos of key moments. What follows is part of that document.

Part 1 — What’s needed is an experience
Part 2 — Embracing Failure!

 

Love. What is Love? When we say, I love you? What does this mean? And how could it possibly be a choice?
A Thousand Moments Later is a story about the development of such love.

This type of love is 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 Western 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 (not cared for but cared 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 romantic 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 and isolation. In such cases the sense of being cared about has been severed through circumstance. And this can happen without any intention by either party.

But notice something very important here. Love as defined here is not something one gets from another but rather it is something that one gives to another — you do not receive love, you give it. In fact, I would claim that one can never receive love. You can only give it for love is the act of caring. What you receive from the other is a sense of being cared about — supported. And it is when one feels this sense of being cared about that one’s aspiration for the other to be well and happy increases. It’s symbiotic. But someone has to start. And this “start” is a choice.

Love is, therefore, an act of freewill. When it’s not an act of freewill, it is not love. Something else is motivating it. Moreover, when things are going wrong in relationships and arguments become the special of the day, we are in fact fighting with ourselves—with our own fears and doubts about our own lives in isolation. When fear of abandonment manifests into an argument what is the real issue here? Ego!

Ego is the manifestation of the self as a self—cutoff and in isolation from another. At best this is delusional. For upon reflection it is easy to see that no one lives this way. We are, in fact, interdependent by nature but ego cannot see this fact and through its blindness a sense of importance is developed. My happiness. My life. My feelings. My my my. Me me me. The ego is selfish by definition. 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—allowing for this transcendent caring to express itself. While we continue to define ourselves in relation to another— cutoff and in isolation—we are doomed to wander through life uncertain and unable to commit to anything other than the egos own sense of importance.

Now, Ron Howard once said that film narrative is about mapping basic human emotions to interesting actions. And Elia Kazan (East of Eden, A Streetcar Named Desire) before him famously told us that we are trying to make the psychological, physical.

In this regard, A Thousand Moments Later is the story of the potential to love in this purest sense. And the story argues that agape and mettá are both real and possible and often brought to bear in key moments. Moments that define who we are beyond the mask we present to the world — beyond the mask of ego.

This indeed is a difficult task but how could it be any other way?


Into the Given Part 2 — Embracing Failure

As part of the pre-production process for my upcoming film, A Thousand Moments Later, I put together a document for the actors and crew to give them something to think over. The document contained some prose and some reference photos of key moments. What follows is part of that document.

Part 1 — What’s needed is an experience
Part 3 — A choice the premise

EMBRACING FAILURE!

For those aspiring to say something meaningful it can be easy to get caught in thoughts of whether a project will be understood. We carry expectations into our projects and as such it is easy to become disheartened when these expectations are not met. Or worse, we let these expectations guide us through the creative process. This way is death.
Setting to one-side expectations of any kind is the light even if this entails the possibility of failing to be fully understood by everyone.

Successful filmmakers—no, strike that—successful people, embrace failure. That is to say, they embrace the possibility of failure for such people are not put off by long and difficult journeys towards understanding. They know it is a journey of discovery for both filmmaker and audience, and they lean on this process to get them through. In fact they are often inspired by such challenges and the patience needed to follow an unknown path. They trust in each other and the ability to see through common everyday likes and dislikes offsetting short-term narrative satisfaction for longer-term meaningfulness. And they do this with steely persistence. Wong Kar Wai and Terry Malick being two filmmakers that embody this tradition.

Process. Patience. Trust. Persistence.

These four tenets cohere creative teams. Allowing them to remain on course as everything else around them turns to mud and the haters (both the inside and outside haters) come to play.

Losing You Way — Finding Perspective

But sometimes it happens—we get lost. Lost in thought. Lost in time. Lost in life. Lost in the creative process. And yet these times can be the catalyst for fresh insights into old truths.

It is important, therefore, to allow oneself the chance to be lost.


What is needed is an experience Part 1

As part of the pre-production process for the upcoming film, A Thousand Moments Later, I put together a document for the actors and crew to give them something to think over. The document contained some prose and some reference photos of key moments. What follows is part of that document. (sorry but I cannot use the pic here as they are copyrighted)

Part 2 — Embracing Failure
Part 3 — A choice the premise

WHAT IS NEEDED IS AN EXPERIENCE.

A pithy line of dialogue, a reveal engendering insight, all these cinematic devices are the tools of smarter men and women than I. Indeed cinematic storytelling, for the most part, is not easy. It is not easy because it is a sophisticated medium where hours can be spent frustrated by misunderstanding, or, as is more often the case, a sense of not fully understanding what the hell it is you are doing/watching. Frustrations notwithstanding it is an experience for which one is better off for having regardless of whether or not the filmmaker’s intention was missed or misunderstood.

With the aforementioned in mind, and as good evidence of my point, I want to address the notions of clarity and coherence in cinematic storytelling. Some might argue there is, in fact, a lack of clarity in the very enterprise of filmmaking for cinematic storytelling is inherently abstruse by its very nature—to some degree images are subjective. To make things worse, the ideas we are grappling with here are difficult. Yet is it their importance that renders them difficult, or is it their difficulty that makes them important? I think one could argue it is, in fact both, and for that very reason, it is important for those engaged in the articulation of these themes to make certain the answers are accessible to as many inquisitive minds as possible. If the filmmakers, through artiness, simply add to the abstruseness of their project, thus taking important questions and making them impenetrable, cinematic storytelling turns into the quibbling of vain men and women.

Having said all that, and by saying it in such a way as to highlight my very point, I want to ask the following question: Is misunderstanding the fault of the audience or the filmmaker? Does clarity ensure comprehension? Or is understanding “given” through the art of visual eloquence? This question goes to the heart of a pedagogical dilemma presented herein: how do we get knowledge — the cognitive effect of understanding—from page, to screen, to the heart via the head? Is it the duty of the writer to forge this understanding? Cleaving difficult ideas in plain English even at the risk of cogency. Or is it to the director we must turn in order to lift obfuscated prose from the page? What role do audiences have in this play of wits? These questions seem important to me for freedom from suffering is at stake here—if the opposite of freedom is ignorance.

If cinematic art is to be important to people it must be important for people. And for this to be the case a film must leave the viewer with a visceral experience not found elsewhere. It must speak to them in such a way as to seem important even when the narrative is difficult to grasp. Indeed, I would argue it must be somewhat difficult to grasp as this is what will inspire deeper thought. It will ignite interest to look beyond the ordinary.
This indeed is a difficult task but how could it be any other way?

I believe, therefore, that clarity and coherence is dependent on audience and filmmakers alike. Nevertheless, there is simply no way one could fully grasp the intended meaning upon first viewing because that is not how knowledge moves from one being to another.

This indeed is a difficult point but how could it be any other way?