Using the overarching narrative of my original screenplay “42 seconds of happiness” we started expanding into multiple perspectives and moments from and around that tale, using my signature writers improv method (which combines improv with emotional structure theory). We started with the couples featured in the movie. And then, continued with those around them who inhabit their intertwined world.
In weekly sessions we initially focused on a different couple. From infidelity to fear of losing a child to fear of losing the unhappy life one is leading, for something which is unknown: everything came on the table. The couples are all somehow connected, so we gradually went into their connections. My process means that I allow for accidents to happen, and that I watch and listen carefully. For instance, if a character mentions a certain person in their life often enough, I will insert that character into the storyworld. The character of Maria was created after Tomas mentioned his sister three times.
The improvs are filmed with what I call an improv camera, as it is held by the actors themselves and is part of the improv – in fact I am giving the camera to the character who is not in the scene but is directly or directly involved in what is happening. This means that sometimes the camera will be too shaky, or that it is not directed to the person who is doing the talking. This happens because the camera carries the emotions of the person holding it, who may not want to see or hear or something.
While expanding the storyworld, I am basically stripping it down to story and characters. No sets, no lights, no directing, just writing, acting, editing – the basics of storytelling. We are finding what Herbert Read called a “true voice of feeling.” True and raw and emotional.
The filmed material of each week’s workshop session will be edited into an approx. 10 minutes long episode/chapter. This way one can follow the whole process of the writer’s and the actors’ minds.
Christina Kallas, July 2012