04 Feb 2017

ManKind in film

You may have noticed from my last blog that I may have magpied the occasional idea / been inspired by a production I had seen. To be fair, most actors I know do this when it comes to performances, “being inspired” by someone they once saw and replicating some/ most / almost all of that performance in a subsequent production. So on that note, I recently saw Moonlight, itself a brilliant and devastating portrayal of masculinity – (also winner of my favourite Oscars moment ever, absolutely hilarious how Warren Beatty kind of threw everyone under the bus on that one…) – anyway, there was a beautiful moment between each film where the boy looked directly down the lens of the camera and the same action was repeated by the actor taking on that role in the next sequence of the film.

Reason I mention this is that SBL Arts has been looking to build a pipeline of potential productions, and again I want Being Mankind to be at the forefront of that. The current plan that we are pitching is to do a film album, kind of like the concept albums of The Who, Pink Floyd (watching/ listening to Brick in the Wall as I write, which seems somehow very appropriate). So we would have 12 disparate films, all made by the same team but all tonally and stylistically very different. They could all be watched in isolation and could be stand alone projects, but when watched in sequence they would give you a rich tapestry of what Being Mankind means.

The first film would be The Poet, a short filmed like a music video as the spoken-word poet plays with the concept of what it is to be a man. I had the idea of taking Hamlet’s “What a piece of work is a man” speech and then deconstructing it; Hamlet ends the speech with “Man delights not me, no nor woman neither…”, and in the current climate and context I think that’s a fair assessment, that’s what we’re trying to change. So the Poet analyses what it is to be a man and where mankind is currently. We then move into Film 2 (borrowing that motif from Moonlight…) with the eyes from each subsequent protagonist linking as the through line of the whole feature.

Film 2 would go straight to the middle of a gang fight, filmed like a war film; there would be no glamour and no heroism. This will show exactly what happens when you stab someone, that it is not glamorous or brave and expose the grim and brutal realities of this kind of lifestyle.

Film 3 picks up where Film 2 ends; the plan is to have Film 2 end with a boy lying in the street, bleeding out from his wounds. Film 3 begins with The Soldier lying on his back in a small crater. In an ideal world we’d have “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed playing, and we realise that this is the literal aftermath of having stepped on an IED. We would then have two stories told in tandem of The Soldier in rehab, learning to walk again and his earlier story of fighting to become a Paratrooper. The idea for this would be to tell it like a boxing film, or a sporting film, with it ending with The Soldier eventually making it out of hospital by walking on his new legs.

Film 4 might be done like a 1950s, Golden era Hollywood musical, all top hats and tailcoats, but the dancing would be performed by wheelchair dancers so that we are updating that entire genre.

Film 5 could be done like an ‘Ocean’s 11’ or ‘The Sting’ but following The Addict, a charismatic and effortlessly entertaining libertine, sat in a casino (where the alcohol is cheap and encouraged to make you gamble more). As the film progresses, we realises that the heist is not for more booze but for the character of the Addict himself, who is being slowly robbed of his personality by his addiction.

Film 6 would be done like an Orson Welles film, playing with chiaroscuro, and called The Wrestler, following a battle with depression. I would love to use “The Other Side” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers here on the soundtrack, and perhaps even film it as a capoeira battle.

Film 7 might be a section from a stand up comedy gig, called The Clown and dealing with body image, filmed like a Richard Pryor or Robin Williams stand-up show.

Film 8, The Butterfly and The Bee would be about a boxer and his brother who is transitioning.

Film 9, The Brave would be a road movie, following the survivor of abuse as he walked around Europe, dealing with his own trauma and forcing governments to change how they deal with victims of child abuse in later years.

Film 10, The Grooms, would be about the first same sex wedding in the UK, but done like a Richard Curtis film.

Film 11 The Father would follow a father and son dynamic as they face the father’s terminal illness together, examining how our parents protect us from death.

Film 12, would return to The Poet, asking whether there was hope in what we had seen.

So, that would be the album – or that’s how it is just now on paper.

Just need to get funding now, but that’s the plan…hopefully it captures the spirit of Being Mankind.

Cheers for now.


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