Volume 2, Issue 1
Ossie’s retiring today from the mannequin factory having been there for all of his working life. Now that his colleagues have left it’s time for Ossie to say his final farewells to the ones he holds dear. As a filmmaker, I’ve always been interested in blending genres, particularly fiction with non-fiction, and using different types of methods and materials to explore that with. It’s also very important to me, and what I creatively strive for, to create films that use the medium for all its immense advantages—sound, image, and pacing—juxtaposing them to express something that is greater than the sum of its parts.
When I was approached to take part in this project, I was very excited because The Listener’s Project is a spontaneous one. You pretty much get told your location (in my case the warehouse) on day one, you have 48 hours to write the script, and four days to assemble a crew and cast it. So, your response to the location has to be immediate, sort of like a reflex. You have to look around and listen to the space and try to come up with something that best uses this (particular) place to tell an engaging story. It’s a very exhilarating experience because it both quickly heightens your storytelling skills and hones your craft. You also sort of find yourself “in service” of this space and you want to honour it, which I found immensely inspiring.
I thought of how I could keep all production in this space, so I had all of the mannequin characters played live by the actors voicing them (off camera). So for Ossie’s shots the voice actor would be standing where the mannequin was in order to help the actors realize a real human connection. It’s a very interesting thing to cast inanimate objects as characters.
First you have to respond to its look, and then you have to think if the actors voice fits that object, and lastly, could the voice bring it to life? Often, we’d come across a good blank canvas, but something was missing, there was no spark. Then we’d place a wig or glasses on them, and suddenly they’d come alive. It was a very interesting experience in taking filmmaking back to its “make believe” roots and seeing what you can do with emotional projection. One of the things that Gráinne Creighton (editor) and I decided on was that every encounter/scene will have its own soundscape, exemplifying its own world—giving us a time frame, a mood, etc. We found that was crucial to bringing this imaginary world to a place where viewers could suspend their disbelief.