Those Eyes

A while ago, I made a film where I ended the movie with the protagonist, a 15-year-old girl, who walks out of her dream world and into the streets of New York City dazed and confused. The actress was Deidra Currie, a performance artist. She wore pajamas and had fresh blades of grass caught in her hair and clinging to the yellow cotton shirt. The character she played had been camping out on the front of her parent’s lawn because she ran away from home.

The film ends with her turning to look at a stranger that passes by carrying a sign with a message he wanted to give her. It said one word “Virility.” She stares at him, the film closes with a close-up of her beautiful aqua blue eyes.

Deidra's eyes, a "window to soul"
Deidra’s eyes a “window to soul”

Tom Gunning, is a film historian whose written hundreds of articles, most notably for prestigious distributors such as Criterion Collection. He and I used to have very lively discussions about movies—in particular art films. It was Tom who introduced me to the films of Robert Bresson—and Bresson’s films pulled me out of my dark night of soul—and made me believe in films.

Tom noted how some of the art films we both liked would end on the image of the protagonist gazing back at the camera and he was most fascinated with it. His favorite word was “curious.” And with a bubbly voice filled with laughter, he’d say, “that’s curious.” I was very pleased to hear what Tom had to say when I asked him what his opinion of the “gaze” meant, and he said, “I think the filmmaker is trying to capture Soul.” I wasn’t aware of this when I captured Deidra’s eyes in that movie.

Thematically, I had carried that image forward into NUNE without conscious effort. I truly didn’t know that I would open the picture with her eyes, and end with her eyes. What I love about this happening twice is that it’s in a way a comment that we are always in Nune’s world.

When Tom wrote a review for my film, MYSTERY’S CHOIR, (the one starring Deidra), he said:

“The film’s adolescent protagonist, speaks in voice-over […]‘There are two worlds…interior, exterior; in the interior is really where your experience is real. But in the exterior, nothing seems real.’ Never has this typically adolescent thought and experience been made so palpable by a filmmaker.”

I took note of this today because the key message is “inner world.” And that is also what’s visually going on in NUNE, with Nune’s eyes drawing you into the film and letting you go at the end. I kinda like that.

If I had two things I could display on a shelf on my wall: it would be the pair of eyes in both films. That of Deidra’s and that of Brianna (Joy Chomer’s). But since these are not physical objects—they are mental images that are burned into my mind.

During development, when I first started packaging NUNE—the concept, a few buddies of mine helped me create a mock movie poster. And in it, we started with a extreme close up of a big eye—with the galaxy mirrored inside. I thought that that would remain the poster image—until we started doing our PR photography shoot with Chad Alan, an LA fashion photographer.

Once I got all the stills back, it became clear to me that the eye wasn’t going to be the focus on the poster. I regretted it—but it wasn’t as “mainstream” or marketable as I’d like it to be.

We had photographed very beautiful images of Brianna’s eyeball—thinking we were going to use to replicate the mock-up poster. But it turned out that there were so many more interesting images—and very beautiful of her and her co-star.

But what had happened during the editing process, was that the image of Bri’s eyes started to float around thematically in the film. And it landed in the beginning as well as the end. And I love this.

So even though we didn’t get this into the poster, it is much better to have in the film because the film itself—is what people will be experiencing—not the poster.

Nune-Eyes
Colors coming to life in color correction before/after: Nune Lusparian’s gaze.

 

The colorist for NUNE, Ron McPherson, has been very gracious and generous with me. His work on NUNE was done with great affection. In working on it, we got to love the film together. He showed me a ton of before/after coloring he did on the movie and the one that got me caught in a daze: was the image of the before/after of Nune’s eyes. We both seem to fall in love with images easily—and it’s fun.

Today, I went to pick up the work he had finished. We sat down and reviewed some finishing touches. I had some very cool BTS footage of a montage of Brianna that I wanted to put as a bonus at the end of the film. It was my own personal fetish—‘cause I love looking at her image. It’s cut very loosely to a brand new song that my favorite band, REWORK (an EDM group in Germany) had given me permission to use. It’s extremely exotic with the images/music going together. I told Ron I’d go grab lunch and come back later to give him space to finish the work.

When I returned, his door was propped open and I walked into the dark room and saw a frozen image of Brianna (from the montage). It was the last image he had landed on. I was totally inspired by the BTS montage although it is something film festivals would hate me for. They hate credits with a fervor; and here I go masturbating the length of it. I can’t help it.

It’s something I feel inspired to do because my goal with Nune is create icons, and Brianna had helped me do that. I turned her into an icon—at least for the film. And I knew that was achieved ’cause I was immediately transfixed by the image Ron had left on his screen. He kinda felt the same way too. It means the image holds magic. They are not just images. They are much more than that.

Now why would I want that? Well, for one, the film is for the youth. And I know that the youth need idols and images to live by. I feel that Nune is a good idol to live by.

BTS'ing with the beautiful Brianna Joy Chomer.
BTS’ing with the beautiful Brianna Joy Chomer.

So although the BTS footage seems like a waste of screen space and time, it’s my opportunity to express myself. I know that sounds weird because you’d think if I wrote and directed it, I had already expressed myself. The fact that I cut it and lived with it for months means that I must be sick of the process by now. I must say that I’m not sick of it—but I have grown. I am looking at the movie—and I realize that this is not my best work—there is more to come. I have outgrown the movie already. This is not a bad thing. It is like a parent having the first baby and now they want the next one. But they never stop loving the firstborn.

I have never stopped loving Deidra, and I will probably never stop loving Brianna. I love all the icons that they’ve given me—because I’m given something to carry forward into the world.

So although I fully expressed myself to the maximum capacity for this film, the areas where I get the most freedom are in places where I have no one to please: and that is in the BTS montage. That is probably my favorite part of the movie—because I get to celebrate with the part of my soul that dances freely—without worry, and with great joy and love. I am certain that when people see this seemingly “insignificant” leftover from the film—even with its grainy bad HD quality—totally BTS’y, they will be hooked…for LIFE.

We Shall,

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Ji Strangeway is a filmmaker, writer, and poet specializing in female-centric LGBTQ. She is also a fierce blogger aiming for a new level of indigoness and bad assery. Find out more: www.jistrangeway.com | Follow FB: jistrangeway.official  #jistrangeway

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About

Ji Strangeway

Ji Strangeway

Executant of the Ineffable

The Three Gates of Speech stipulates that you ask these questions before putting your foot in your mouth: Is it True? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind? Since this doesn't fit the purpose for every occassion, the criteria for my path is: Is it True? Is it Necessary? Is it Indigo?

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