There are going to be a lot of great (and not-so-great) articles detailing every element of David Bowie’s career. It was long and storied and substantial. I just want to share some scattered thoughts.
For me, Bowie was this element that popped up at odd times to re-assure me it was alright to be different. Recommended, in fact. I’ve taken that to heart and when the other voices (the normals) creep in. I have to go back and re-focus. Focus on the art.
That’s what he did. Superstardom wasn’t the goal. Money wasn’t the goal. ART was the goal. And believe, that’s about as lofty as it gets.
As a kid, the Goblin King intrigued me more than he frightened me. I probably would have stuck around the castle rather than try to get back home, if it meant hanging around with that radical hairdo exploring the labyrinth forever.
Bowie was a unique character (or characters?) dressing up the landscape for a couple of generations of music lovers and film buffs. Let’s keep that legacy going by staying strange, sticking up for the outcast, and putting art before the trappings of success.
The beauty of playing Natasha [Home Away] was that I was able to portray a woman who was suffering from the immaturity and betrayal of her husband (whether perceived or real) and the consequences and repercussions of living in a world where a woman’s value is considered to depreciate with time, similar to the purchase of a new car. It was very confronting as an actress, being single and childless, to face what could potentially be my future. The saddest part is that neither the female nor the male want this in a relationship; it’s just the natural progression of things.
I wanted to convey the pain and frustration that rips a family apart when one partner decides to no longer step up to the next level required to make things work. It also gave me a chance to see things from the male character’s perspective – with the help of our very generous director [Jason Armstrong] I was able to realize that the woman is not the only one suffering – however the man generally chooses to go it alone. He makes himself an island, preferring not to share the torturous parts of his psyche, favoring the masculine option of being ‘strong’ and figuring it out on his own. I always believe that a problem shared is a problem halved, but if you are no longer physically attracted to your partner, how do you say that without hurting both of you?
Jason always champions the female characters and that is what makes his filmography unique. He gets it. His direction is simple yet precise and effective. He truly is an actor’s director. I felt a metamorphosis take place throughout the filming and it was beautiful yet devastating to experience. To look at yourself in the mirror and realize there is nothing technically ‘wrong’ with you but you can’t actually entice your loved one any longer is simply the most depressing thing in the world. You lose hope, dignity, and your desire for life is squashed. It is the most consuming feeling and takes away all joy from your life.
The importance of keeping yourself mentally fit is paramount – Natasha taught me that one cannot let their partner perish, if you need to pull the other one out from whatever rock they’re under you must do everything to save them. That is what it means to be married. For better or for worse, through sickness and in health, I choose YOU. Anything less than utter devotion is a waste of time and a mockery of what marriage means. You must be your own best friend and your partner’s greatest cheerleader. The world is tough enough as it is, you don’t want to be fighting your partner at the same time. I believe that with the right person there are no limits to where one can go in life. A big beautiful tree grows roots over time, and communicates with others, becoming strong and powerful. The healing energy it provides is unmistakable, and so admirable.
To be in a relationship of this kind is a blessing and one of the most precious offerings on earth.
As a thirty-something white guy in the film business, I’m about as much a minority as a grain of sand at the beach. I wouldn’t pretend to intimately understand the trials of being a woman in a flooded old-boys club like Hollywood and its “indie” cousins. No, I’m not going to write about that.
What I do feel confident to talk about is the importance of great stories ABOUT women. I want to share some thoughts on the importance of women in MY films.
Raised by one strong woman and now married to another one (seventeen years and counting) I have a lot of up-close perspective on all that a woman is and can be. I cannot imagine writing a script with stereotypical, trope-towing ladies, because I haven’t yet known any such woman in real life.
They get tired, but somehow find a next level, almost supernatural will to carry on. Don’t believe me, be in a room with a woman giving birth. Women get broken, but find a way to stitch the chaos together and continue to lead. Look at women who are abandoned in the very midst of life and left to raise children/run businesses/manage financial ruin on their own. I saw this characteristic up close in my own mother and have seen it a hundred times since through my wife’s work with teenagers.
When I launch into a new script, my inclination is almost always to see a woman as the hero. There is a decisiveness in the women I know (except regarding restaurant choices… that one confounds me) that inspires an easy belief in their heroism.
Women don’t have to be re-defined or made masculine to be unforgettable characters. The notion is a bit silly, in fact. They don’t need to be anti-man to be awesome, either. Women need to be portrayed HONESTLY. Let them fall in love and let them be rescued, if the story calls for it, but don’t let it end there. Let them be heroes, let them be villains, let them fight and let them choose their own fate. You don’t have to be a woman to write these characters, you just have to be observant, honest and do some homework. Equality isn’t about gender-flipping, it’s about an even playground. It’s about fairness.
Have I got it perfect? No and I don’t pretend I could. But it’s important to me that women are represented truthfully and powerfully in my own films. That’s the part I, the walking filmmaker stereotype, can play in fixing the skewed view of the world the movies have foisted on us. I’d encourage any of my scribe/directorial brethren to take up the fight, too.
In the films that connect to the two trailers we released this week (Inspiration and Home Away) there are amazing women pushing through complex and unique situations.
Inspiration is about author Samantha Kingsley (played expertly by Emily Alatalo) who’s success was built on a popular horror novel. She has since moved on to other genres, but without much success. In a collision of events, she is faced with an offer she can’t refuse to return to the world of Grinning Charlie (her villain) even as her marriage comes to a screeching halt. Already a self-made woman, she must now figure out how to rebuild.
Throughout the story, she is forced to lean on herself to navigate the craziness that breaks out around her (it’s a thriller, after all) and in the end, if she is to be saved, she must save herself. Are there men? Yes. Do they matter? Yes. Does that minimize her heroism or determination? Not at all.
Here are some thoughts from Emily about her character in Inspiration:
“…it’s refreshing getting to play a character that doesn’t follow the typical ‘damsel in distress’ template. Most movies involving a woman dealing with a breakup also include a lot of crying and feeling sorry for herself, then trying to change who she is to prove her worth to a man. Sam focuses on herself by diving into her career and when the shit hits the fan, she takes action. She doesn’t wait for a knight in shining armour. She makes a few questionable/ballsy choices – but it’s nice seeing them being made by a female for once!” ~ Emily Alatalo
Home Away is a film (we call it a capri, because it’s too long for a short, but too short… you get it) starring Antonio Cayonne, Kathryn Aboya, and Jenna Jade Rain. It’s the story of a man seeing his life played out before him and his inability to escape it. To make matters worse, the only person that really knows him, his wife, is unreachable.
Ultimately she must decide if and how to lead him from the mess he may have made of his life, if she can stomach the hurt of it all. Antonio is absolutely awesome in this piece, but in keeping with this blog, let me focus specifically on Kathryn’s character. Here is a woman who could justifiably walk away from the calamity this man may have wrought on both of them. Instead she opens a door to which ONLY she has a key and navigates some of the deepest pain a person could feel. It’s a selfless act, and is both beautiful and unnerving to watch.
Here’s a bit of what Kathryn had to say about her character in Home Away:
“I felt a metamorphosis take place throughout the filming and it was beautiful yet devastating to experience. To look at yourself in the mirror and realize there is nothing technically ‘wrong’ with you but you can’t actually entice your loved one any longer is simply the most depressing thing in the world. You lose hope, dignity, and your desire for life is squashed. It is the most consuming feeling and takes away all joy from your life.” ~ Kathryn Aboya
The way these two brilliant actors interpreted and shaped their characters is mesmerizing and the end result? Interesting and HONEST female characters.
SKG Films is working hard to tell great stories and powerful, complex, multi-faceted female characters are a very important part of that.