The main relationship theme in the Parasols is a mother-daughter one. In real life, Christopher and I enjoy a relationship much like the one that will be portrayed in my film, as well as similar to the families in the International Mother-Daughter Beauty Pageant.
I love these guys! For Swedes, they aren't afraid to get dirty. I want to not be afraid to get dirty.
In 2011, I directed a performance in Istanbul for the Galata Visibility Project. Part of the presentation was an early stage version of the Parasols of Baltimore, and featured Kate Beckel and Sevinç Gürmen as my daughters.
Sevinç is such an androgynous wild card and really embodied the person I had in mind to play "Lola", the lost love of "Rollo" in my film.
Owner and Head Instructor at WOW Pole Dance in Istanbul, Sevinç is a natural on the pole, and likes to get freaky and improvisational and her pole antics caused Turkish censors to fine "Turkey's Got Talent" when she was on it. In Parasols, she will be featured in the scene in which Rollo flashes back (in a phone conversation with Mamma Every) to his lost love. It is the classic story of the pole dancer who got away.
Sevinç and I met in Istanbul. I had just opened an art space and was teaching aerials. I wanted to know what else was going on acrobatic-wise in Turkey, and some circus friends told me she was teaching a tissu workshop. I planned to go and meet people and see what sort of community existed. I wrote to her in Turkish and scared the crap out of her. Apparently my Turkish was correct, but weird, and she was under the impression that I wanted to teach her workshop for her!!! Luckily, it turns out she speaks perfect English, so we cleared that up right away! We have been friends ever since.
The most unbearable movie ever: "Une Chambre En Ville".
Usually, I watch Jacques Demy movies (including "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg") on mute. But that is if I have seen them before. I had never before seen this 1982 film set during worker's strikes in Nantes. So for a tortuous 1 hour and 35 minutes that I will never get back, my eyes feasted while my ears suffered. Like other Demy films, the sets, costumes and actors were gorgeous. The music and non-stop singing? Not so much . . .
1.) I am totally going to direct Chrissy Lux sing in a high-pitched, breathy off-tune voice for his role of Jenna in my movie
2.) Danielle Darrieux is a better version of a mother than Anne Vernon (the mother in Umbrellas.)
3.) There aren't enough roles that call for a flasher in a fur coat.
Here is just one version of the song I will be using for the trailer. This version has singing in it. I don't know if the trailer will be all instrumental, or with just the chorus sung. But you get the idea . . .
After collaborating with many different people in the course of my career, I knew that I didn't feel like explaining myself over and over again in terms of what I was going for. So I called my old friend, Rama Kolesnikow, when I needed music for the trailer. Rama and I pretty much grew up together and discovered the world of perverted entertainment at the same time. In other words, I didn't really have to explain anything to him. And on top of it, he is an awesome song-writer and musician.
I had heard of "Dogme 95"--the film creation manifesto of Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg--but I had never actually seen any of the films made following its code of conduct. The Dogme 95 filmmakers signed pact to defeat the evil forces of Hollywood overproduction and make films "real" again. While I support that sentiment theoretically, after watching "Festen (The Celebration)" last night, I decided that watching "real" films may induce seizure.
According to Kevin Jack Hagopian, Senior Lecturer of Media Studies at Penn State,
"Films made to Dogme’s rigid specs use hand-held cameras, ‘wild’ sound, available lighting, location filming (there are no sets in FESTEN), and emphatically, no digitized imagery. Even their choice to work with a video master transferred to a 35mm negative seems brash, another opportunity to lose the elegance and gloss of the ‘prestige’ foreign film. Dogme counts among its spiritual forebears the American Cinema Verité movement of the 1960s pioneered by D.A. Pennebaker, and like those provocative documentarians they see themselves as provocateurs for a newly meaningful cinema in a landscape of mediocrity. Dogme calls for a return to the profound simplicity of ‘little films’ such as THE 400 BLOWS (Truffaut, 1958), and SHOESHINE (de Sica, 1946), a cinema in which, to quote their credo, "the inner lives of the characters justifies the plot." FESTEN is the first film to embody Dogme’s passion for the miniature movie." Film Notes
While I love the idea of Dogme 95 for OTHER PEOPLE--it is not for me. In my reality, I don't shake my head uncontrollably and fall down at unspecified intervals just to make things more "real". In other words, my personal vision does not resemble a hand-held camera.
Also, I'm a huge fan of flattering mood lighting and other things that make myself and others look better. And I like to see what is going on in a movie without squinting.
One thing I did think could work in the "Parasols of Baltimore", though, is long takes and uncomfortable camera angles because that would reflect the reality of acrobatic action.
In developing the mother character for "The Parasols of Baltimore", I needed role models. My own dear mother is entirely too sweet and supportive to qualify for this role, so I looked to mothers in my favorite movies for fashion tips, child-rearing advice, and the general ability to be bad-ass.
I would like to think that my real-life and on-screen relationship with the person playing my daughter (Chrissy Lux) is different from this portrayal by Divine and a bratty kid--but it isn't.
I continue to set the mood with color schemes from my favorite John Waters films, "Pink Flamingos" and "Female Trouble". My eyes still hurt from my previous homage to Bernard Evein, but I will suffer for art.
I heard from some people that know a thing or two about how films get made, that I should create something called a "Mood Board" I think this is for communicating my idea with the cinematographer? But as that would be me at this point, this may just be a fun exercise. Today I'm just having fun with colors with my favorite website: Colourlovers.com
Stills and Wallpaper from "Une Chambre En Ville"
Parasols of Baltimore Palette (made by me on colourlovers.com
And more from Bernard Evein! Behold the saturation . . .
Aside from my sister, I am the least film-literate person I know. Until I went to college, I can honestly say that I had seen only a handful of movies: "Saturday Night Fever", the original "Star Wars", "Rocky", "Pete's Dragon", National Lampoon's "Vacation", and a movie that played every day, all day, on HBO in the 80's called, "Shoot the Moon" with Diane Keaton and Albert Finney.
In university, I miraculously fell in (and ended up living) with a gang of film and art majors. I went from having seen a total of 6 movies, to being strapped to a chair with my eyelids propped open with toothpicks (see, I've seen "A Clockwork Orange" by now!) and fed a constant stream of Stan Brakhage, Passolini, Bunuel, David Lynch, Vertov, and my personal favorites--Alejandro Jodorowsky and John Waters.
I was at the mercy of the aesthetics of my friends. They were more interested in experimental film that involved a lot of flickering lights and/or industrial music. I preferred things with a little more narrative--preferably narrative that involved deviant behavior and psychological perversion. That is probably why I fell in love with the movies of John Waters, but never even heard of Jacques Demy or the rest of the French New Wave.
All of that changed a number of years later, after I had moved to San Francisco and had new cosmopolitan, bon-vivant friends (I'm talking about you, Jone and Koren!!) It was in SF that I was exposed to the film musicals of Jacques Demy.
Combine a little John Waters ("Pink Flamingos", "Female Trouble", etc.) with the campy-ness of an overly dramatic movie where every line of dialogue is sung in French, add a bunch of circus weirdos performing amazing acrobatic feats and you have "Parasols of Baltimore"
Psst . . . Looks like some other people are also inspired to re-make Jacques Demy films! I found this little gem during my research and i LOVE IT.
You want to know what are/is "Parasols of Baltimore". And I am going to tell you about "Parasols of Baltimore".
"Parasols of Baltimore" is a film. An art film. And art film that has not yet been made. And the reason it has not yet been made is because I don't have the resources to make it. But if I don't make it, no one else will. And that would be a shame. So I'm producing a promotional trailer for "Parasols of Baltimore" to garner support.
This blog charts the journey of making the promo.
But what is it about? What it is about shouldn't be your main concern. What you need to know are the following things:
1. It is a remake of Jacques Demy's musical classic, "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg".
2. It is set in modern day Baltimore.
3. It contains circus and acrobatics.
4. It is going to be amazing.
And another thing you should know is that I have never, ever made a movie before. This blog is about my filmmaking education. Come to this blog a couple times a week to see what sort of wheels I can reinvent!