The Damsel: A short film about aspiring to be myself.
Let me first begin by saying that this is weird. This film and short story in all its 1:06 of run time is a strange look into my imagination. There’s a lot of water. Maybe you noticed that already because I’m in a bathtub? But if you’re the kind of person to miss the obvious, now you know…
The story, as many do, took a life of its own.
“Fear, what’s with all this fear. I push back, but it always stays here.” — Allen Stone, Circle
I made a pact with myself this year that I would shoot, produce and share one short film a month. Whatever called my fancy, I would pursue and make. The idea was to alleviate the pressure to make something weekly. I found this goal was often driven by an internal desire to be famous and build an audience more than a commitment to the joy of creating. Thus, I decided to focus on quality, story spontaneity, and my curiosity.
Witnessing “The Damsel’s” creative journey was fascinating.
In pre-production, this story began as a comedic sketch regarding a women’s period and featured my endearing character, Juanita. It ended as a commentary on what it feels like to fight for space and intimacy within one’s self, with more than four variations in between that never saw the light of day.
Four weeks after shooting, I was in a new state emotionally.
When I reached post-production, I felt drained and genuinely distressed over a particular relationship in my life. The story I began to tell no longer felt relevant. Something new was bubbling up and I still didn’t have the right music for the shoot.
Following a prompt to by Elizabeth Gilbert to follow your curiosity, I opted, quite spontaneously, to use my own voice for the music. To freestyle using the concept of a poem I had recently written.
Sharing my singing voice felt bold and even awkward at first.
I had the house to myself. I downloaded GarageBand. I began singing and found myself lulling into an almost countryesque, safe-sounding vibe.
Ten minutes in, I snapped out of it, What are you doing? This isn’t how you really sing. Be willing to go for it.
So I sang.
Willing to be called a loser or told that I can’t sing.
And yet, so very proud.
Many people are not able to watch themselves on video or even hear themselves sing. I, surprisingly enough, am able to do this because the person I hear and see on camera isn’t me.
It’s a muse of sorts.
I’m not asking myself if I look good (ok, maybe I am a little bit).
I’m asking myself what I feel.
I’m feeling for energetic subtleties that indicate a match.
I feel for the right scene, the right note, the right anything to convey a message for which I don’t require words.
It’s when the hair on my arms rises. When I smile and feel a massive yes in my belly. It’s when I lose myself in what I’m watching to come out on the other side transformed, even if only by inches.
That’s a gift. Not one I earned, one I was given and am training with practice.
This tells me that messages go beyond the literal. The tangible. That which can produce an explanation.
This tells me there are layers to our stories, our messages, our lives.
There’s a person being birthed with each creative venture I undertake.
“Je ne sais presque rien, à part que ce putain d’être humain qui est face à moi et me dévisage dans le foutu miroir n’est pas Gilles.” — Scylla, Charbon
“I know almost nothing, except that this fucking human being in front of me and staring at me in the fucking mirror is not Gilles.”
A story, a message, an adventure in and without time that — like all that is great — chooses me before I first recognize her.
This silent recognition that can only be seen in the trails of hindsight are precious, devotional even.
So I devote myself to this humble (ing) sliver of work that feels like play. The only work, in fact, is getting out of my own, ethereally bound way.
Before you go, hit reply and tell me what one thing you desire to make?
p.s. I’d love to meet, you. Highlight or comment to say waddup.