- This is an epilogue of the story of friendship between Scrawny Boy and Overweight Boy told by a narrator, though it is more about Scrawny Boy now. It is a sort of down-to-earth “ever after” for Scrawny Boy who realises that since the first best friend he had made, he has never kept his friends for long. The scrawny boy is the narrator and he contemplates his decisions and accepts that this is how it is for him and even though it will ultimately make him irrelevant, unknown and lonely, he would choose this over taking up the weight of other people. What we see in the visuals as the story is being told is not Scrawny Boy’s face, he does not wish for lasting impression on himself. Instead, he films the locations where he had memories with friends as he contemplates. Are they just locations now? Do they even have meaning to other people?
- I started out coming up what character in Sabina that I wanted to focus on. Since this project is not about identifying who the alter ego is, for me, I made this a challenge to make something more serious.It is debatable whether process is art. Maybe not to others, but to the artist, myself specifically, it is just as important as the outcome. I filmed at locations where I had spent time with friends who are now mostly strangers to me. I had some prior references of artists including Werner Herzog, Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and Win Wenders’ Paris, Texas. I wanted to create an effective monologue like in Paris, Texas while having the visuals of Linklater’s Before Sunrise where there are wide shots of locations, significant to the characters, in the epilogue. I have also been trying to condition myself to work without a storyboard, just like Herzog, especially for individual work to train myself to find beauty and opportunity in the process.
Naturally, there are challenges in trying to achieve these things but we have to be creative or make compromises and that is the fun in filmmaking. While filming, it rained. Some locations had changed over time. I had no tripod, so I filmed without one. I wanted it to look like Scrawny Boy was going filming it anyway. I just tried to use all of these things to my advantage and if I couldn’t, I made do. I had many shots to work with as a result. Because of that, I had a lot of shots to go through. I don’t enjoy having to hear my voice and if I had a choice I wouldn’t do it, but it made sense for me to do it, so I did it.
- There is no storyboard, but I did have a list of locations I wanted to go to.
Playground/basketball court near the primary schoolOld House Blk 222
The basketball court near Ojas’ house
The LAN shop at Elias mall
The bus ride to Yishun (?) KIV
The benches in Singapore Poly
The ADM basement
Swing at the park
Bridge near the canal
Path from VivoCity to Sentosa
Marina Bay Sands/ArtScience Museum area
Something with my family/ah kong
Alter Ego – Epilogue
Because there is a proper way of submitting the assignment, I will just stream of consciousness this process of sorts over here instead.
I had the joy of not having a friend to perform the role Sabina for me so I decided that I should be my own alter ego. The result was a blend between two of us. Coincidentally, this made the story I wrote from week one of class, relevant. Below is the entire story I had to read out in all its unedited glory.
“Once upon a time there was a short and scrawny boy studying in primary school. He had no friends, was not particularly good in his studies and was, overall, a forgettable person. One day, he received a letter from the school; an invitation to join the school choir. Now, while he was quiet and introverted, he also had very little going on in his life. He thought to himself, “why not?”
The choir practice room was filled with a sea of girls and one loud, overweight boy. Overweight Boy was comfortably talking to the other choir members when he saw Scrawny Boy sitting down in a corner of the music room. His eyes lit up in surprise, realising that the quiet kid from his class would consider joining the school choir, a form of performance art no less. Overweight Boy made his way across the room and with a smile, said, “Hi,” Caught off-guard by Overweight Boy’s approach, Scrawny Boy was at a loss for words. Scrawny Boy thought of many things. He thought of ways to escape this confrontation. He thought he might cry. He thought of how silly he looked to everyone else in the room. With great effort, he managed to mouth the words, “Hi.”
This might seem like an insignificant incident to most, but this is precisely how Scrawny Boy and Overweight Boy became best friends.”
(through the rest of primary school)
The starting point of my film sort of carries on from the end of this story; a sort of down-to-earth “ever after”.
The film is titled, “Epilogue” and will be in the official post.
Alter Ego – Editing
I had wide shots, medium shots, close-ups, flat shots, and angled shots.
I had the words. Now I needed the sentence. I made two rough cuts, all of which I dislike at this point.
In the first cut, it was intended to be done with a monologue by “Sabina” talking about choosing lightness and the loneliness and other things that come with it.
In the “frontal cut”, it would be more from the perspective of “Sabina” just coming to the realisation and understanding that this is, fundamentally, her. She will never change, but maybe she wonders what it would be like if she had chosen otherwise.
Some shots were not great. I like the first one better because the emotions come out better. I am hesitant to desaturate the colours to manipulate the emotions, making it more dramatic than it ought to be, which is actually meant to be more contemplative. Still, I will do it because aren’t we all here to try. Anyway, having colours could be distracting and conflicting to the story.
I wrote the lines while looking at the edit so that I could fit the words to compliment the visuals. I used Paris, Texas as a point of reference in terms of delivery of the lines. I did not want to give off the exact same emotions as the movie. This is, after all, an entirely different story.
What came out was a deeply boring video that will put you off within the first few seconds. Still, this piece of work is for me, mostly.
I felt that the delivery of the lines were too lifeless, but I didn’t want to go too much in the opposite direction. What I needed was to go up by about 20%, or change the lines.
I gave in eventually and watched the film adaptation of book – 3 hours of my time. It did not really help me in coming up with lines but it did give me a small understanding of the feelings of Sabina.
Ultimately, I made it more of a mesh between the two of us. I felt that there were enough parallels in character that infusing her thoughts with mine would make sense.
Geez. I’m embarrassed to post these up. Most people have nice process visuals and all I have is failure. I must have re-recorded the lines at least 10 times. More tweaking to audio and lines needs to be done, but I think I am set on the visuals. I chose not to completely desaturate the footage because I think that black and white is almost stylistic already. What I want to achieve is the footage being dull but having interesting composition. Likewise, there is good and bad in choosing lightness or weight.
Alter Ego – The Purpose of Art
Having not actually filmed much and also adopting the Werner Herzog philosophy of having a broad idea of what I wanted to shoot and going to the locations to let the shots present themselves, in place of having a storyboard, I took quite a number of shots.
Coincidences always happen if you keep your mind open, while storyboards remain the instruments of cowards who do not trust in their own imagination and who are slaves of a matrix. If you get used to planning your shots based on aesthetics, you are never far from kitsch.
Coincidentally, Sabina is against kitsch too. (More on that in the previous post)
I used the movie “Before Sunrise” as a point of reference for this film; opting not to be influenced by the movie adaptation of The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
Before Sunrise is one of those films that had a profound impact on me as a teen. I still go back to it to learn about filmmaking. One of the many moments that I remembered from the film was the ending where we see wide shots of places where the two protagonists had been throughout the night. Because we’ve been through the journey with them, there is a feeling of, perhaps, nostalgia. I can’t quite pinpoint the feeling with words. Maybe it is the feeling that these places have a magical hold on us. They are just places to everyone else, but these places are memories to us. Yes. That is what I am trying to achieve; or at least just a fraction of.
The difference is I am jumping straight to the epilogue and expecting the audience to fill in the blanks themselves. This will either show my confidence or failure as a storyteller.
After my research, I had to come with a story for what would be shown in the 1 minute of film. Keeping in line with the character not having friends, I went out on my own on Chinese New Year to film the places I used to hang out with friends. The story is an epilogue. Imagine a person having gone through so many relationships and now has no one. This person is reflecting on his decisions.
I made my way to Pasir Ris and started with the nearest place, Coral Secondary School.
And found that they had already slapped a new name on top of the body and essence that was my school.
But I digress.
I walked the route from school that I normally took to get to the basketball court below a friend’s house.
Next I went over to Loyang point and Street 21 where my primary school was, and still is, located.
After all that I walked back to the MRT station and ended off the day’s shoot with the area near my house.
The next day, I went to more crowded places for variety before heading back to school.
The feel I was going for was somber and I know that it will turn out coming off as some prick with a stick up his butt- BUT I wanted to try taking something seriously for once. I always talk about how philosophy seems pointless because there is no answer. That is because I can never bring myself to make a stand. I am trying to make a stand and because I am, I have to question myself endlessly.
With that in mind I ask myself, “Who do I make art for?”
A lot of times I don’t want to answer the question because an answer might define me and I am supposed to be “light”.
The next couple of shots are pick up shots that I hold no feelings or memories of, but I took them anyway because they evoked an emotion that I wanted to convey.
What is the purpose of my art?
To entertain? To express? To communicate?
Alter Ego – Sabina
from The Unbearable Lightness of Being; or some character (not even the main character) from this one book that you may or may not have heard of.
Before working on the inspiration file, I did some research on the character as I wanted to go beyond face value. Since this is really for my own use, I’ll dump it out here.
It starts out with my deciding if it was the main character TOMAS, or Sabina that I felt more affinity towards. I started with Tomas because protagonists get more “screen time”
Tomas or Sabina
Tomas: Womanising | Lightness or weight of being | I, too, struggle with the lightness and weight of life.
His character experiences the temporary sweet lightness of being when Tereza leaves him to return to Prague. Thereafter, he experiences the unbearable lightness of being that comes with his compassion for Tereza
Tomas reminisces about lightness and weight after a night of sex with someone else
Ideas: Sex vs. Shared Sleep | Eternal return (An interesting concept)
The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.
As free as you are insignificant
We make decisions at each point in our lives but we can never know what the other outcomes could have been. We can never know if we chose correctly. (To me, a very important epiphany)
I am standing at the window of his flat and looking across the courtyard at the opposite walls, not knowing what to do.
From here I started to research on Sabina and found that-
Betrayal is Sabina’s way of fighting kitsch – a word that keeps popping up in Sabina’s story
THE IDEA OF BETRAYAL IS BREAKING OFF INTO THE UNKNOWN.
Why does Sabina’s relationships always end in “betrayal”; i.e. leaving good people for uncertain and empty loneliness and freedom (Lightness).
Why is she drawn to “betrayal”?
Why am I drawn to “betrayal” and, by extension, lightness? (The main thing that connects us)
Beauty is a world betrayed
Sabina was searching for new beauty; to break away from kitsch
On the surface, an intelligible lie; underneath, the unintelligible truth
Repetition gives things “weight”
Nothing more magnificent than going off into the unknown
Es Muss Sein – It Must Be. (A song lyric that talks about things that are fundamentally the character or maybe even intrinsic nature)
The only way you can sufficiently guard your heart is if you live a life in which you have nothing to lose. (Trying to see how Sabina sees)
Take lovers, use them for what they are good for, let yourself be used, but remember to return to your solitude, always. I don’t know where this idea came from, that we need another person. Throw that idea out the window.
In death, you can only hope to become nothing. This is the ultimate beauty. There are times when I feel so empty, I am sure death has come for me. I imagine that is very much how death will feel.
Sabina: Confidence | Choosing a “light” life results in her irrelevance in the world | While not confident, it is uncanny how the both of us always find ourselves feeling both alone and irrelevant. It is a choice we consciously make.
Lightness of being | Too much lightness | I feel affinity towards her view on the lightness of being and also bear the unbearable lightness of being. Nothing matters: a dual-edged sword.
Does not hold anything dear to her; with the exception of her bowler hat
Sabina holds that the ideal of one-voice-no-individuals is actually much worse than any violent or imperfect totalitarian reality.
She likes to be humiliated sexually by men (?) Backstory stuff
Sexual promiscuity = lightness
Commitment = weight
Of everything in the Inspiration file brief, I found the sentence starters to be the most useful in giving my alter ego, form.
I firmly believe that meaning has no place in what my idea of life is.
I would like to run away to America. / I would like to know what would have happened if I had chosen differently (weight over lightness)
I love being truly free.
I hate the kitsch of the world; the unoriginal and aesthetic ideology imposed on us
I have no problem with nudity
I know that my choice to betray (to break off into the unknown) will leave me irrelevant and unknown. This makes me uneasy.
BUT, that doesn’t mean that the pursuit of lightness is any less unbearable
I chose to focus on the lightness that Sabina has chosen. I feel affinity towards her views on kitsch and several ideas too. With the limited time that I have I want to focus on one thing only. Cramping in too many ideas into a one minute film is just too tall a task for me. Who knows, maybe our fight against kitsch will come through the film itself. That is the challenge.