A Delirium Productions Film www.delirium-productions.co.uk
As a film, Artifice has a uniqueness in two categories that are immediately apparent to me: first, it’s conceptual framework; second, it’s execution.
I’ve been immersed in ‘how to’ literature for independent filmmakers of late. One of the general principles that experts seem to all agree on is the idea that understanding your film’s genre is crucial. What is more, as a writer, they claim that trying to stick to one genre, or a small selection of genre (2 or 3 combined), is the best route for marketing oneself. As I recently read on the Raindance Film Festival site, ‘distributors buy genre, not drama.’ It is suggested that in order to make oneself or one’s project commercial viable to distributors is to find a genre and fit the project into it. As a pragmatist I’m not entirely opposed to this line of logic. It is necessary to undersand the inner workings of the industry if one is seeking to make a living within and/or around it. However, there is also a rebellious spirit within that beckons me to kick against the goads.
With Artifice, the most simple genre classification would be drama. This of course is a radical simplification, but one that the film generally fits into. Beyond this, there are elements of love, tragedy, and myth that all have rumblings beneath the surface of the story itself. But really, I find these classifications immensely boring. These genre are useful terms for marketing purposes, for distribution, and for simple description to viewers. And as such, it is important to know when and how to utilize this information for the benefit of the film as a public product for consumption… the ‘game’ has to be played.
But what really makes this film unique, what ought to stand out as its defining characteristic, is the way in which the film is actually executed as a performance piece. I’ve already written in a previous post about the film’s conceptual framework and why I think that framework is unique and interesting (you can read it here). Here, what I mean to communicate is perhaps the even greater uniqueness that the film bears. Artifice will incorporate the elements of Practical Aesthetics in its entirety. The acting performances will be driven by moment-to-moment real connections between actors, whose sole purpose in the scene will be to affect the other through a specified task that accords with the character’s want in the script. There will be no ‘pretending’ or ‘imagining.’ The actors will not develop intricate backstories in order to flesh out the fictional characters. The actors will derive everything they need from the script, trusting the script and allowing their performances to enhance the script only insofar as they bring to life the words on the page. They will create and respond to spontaneous happenings in the interaction with the other. They will not prescribe what they will do or how they will speak. They will trust the moment and its chaos and manage it so that only the most pure and authentic embrace of the other will guide their decisions. The result will be that both Tom and Cat will live truthfully and honestly and effectively in their performances. And for the audience, the sincerity of this interaction will in no way be contrived or forced by editing or direction… it will be a capturing of the truth.
From the side of the camera, Andrew MacKenzie will utilize his experimental and punk-influenced ethos to capture whatever happens in front of him. Mostly occurring over long takes, the camera will follow the actors as they explore their sceneries and encounter the dramas before them. And as the director… my job is to not get in the way. I will be a facilitator, placing dynamic components into positions where they can make connections and create truthful interactions. Rather than prescribe what must be done from without, I will make sure we capture the life that will unfold from within.
Similar to the work of Cassavetes and Malick, Artifice will both capture real moments unfolding and will also poetically strive to create an aesthetic that speaks. And all this is possible from the tools provided by Practical Aesthetics. More than just an acting technique, it is a broadly applicable methodology. And it is this defining characteristic that ought to really define the film’s marketability.