This film was created backwards.
What do I mean by that? I mean that the birth of this film did not come from a story, a character, or an idea. It was birthed by the score in which it accompanied.
Last year, I found out that the Dallas Chamber Symphony had a screening series/competition called "Sight of Sound". This was a competition where filmmakers would submit a silent short film set to classical music - that if chosen would be screened with a live orchestra accompanying the film. I was enraptured by the idea of creating a short film to music that already existed. So I called my friend Margaret.
Margaret Barrett is a classically trained composer - and one whom I think is brilliant. I knew she had a library of performed pieces, and I asked her to send them my way. After pouring over her compositions, I landed on a piece that she had titled "A Specific Time". More on that later.
So I began the process of writing the narrative. The challenge was to construct a story out of these melodies and chords that were lending itself to one emotion and one image. A pulsing blue light.
Fear traps us. It holds us captive.
As artists, we are all subject to vulnerability. Our greatest work is often found when we bare a part of our soul. Something so personal, so tragic, so full of joy - we allow bits of ourselves to seep into our work. And that vulnerability is terrifying. This of course doesn't just apply to painters, composers, or filmmakers. Anytime we allow people to see us on an intimate level, anytime we let someone in, we subject ourselves to ridicule, to judgement, but more often than not - to rejection.
And that's where I find myself in my art - in that paradox of joy and fear. Too often, I allow fear to run my life. And it's crippling. So I wrestle within that paradox - and to create in spite of fear. That's when the art and the story start to come to life. And that's where I discover and make connections I could have never dreamed.
Fear holds us captive.
Until we let go of the fear and leave it behind. That's where we find ourselves.
Tiffany is a painter. And now, she's an actress.
One of my favorite meta-narratives in this film is about Tiffany McAnarney. I think it's important to point out that this is the first film that Tiffany has ever performed in. And she's absolutely incredible. She is an amazing painter/artist/friend - and when I spoke to her about the story, she jumped on board pretty quickly. We laughed at how the narrative of the film had morphed into weird reflections of our own lives. Well, we nervously laughed. It was a surprisingly clear reflection.
Her trust in me as a director is something that I treasure, and her boldness on screen is something I'm proud to share.
One image. One emotion.
Writing a film set to music which already exists and cannot be altered was an interesting challenge. Margaret composed "A Specific Time" in 2009 - and explained to me that the score was reflective of a time in her own life - where she felt that she was constantly failing as an artist. The piece is broken up into six sections. The first five are sections of tension and angst, with the sixth section a breakthrough of total catharsis and relief.
Margaret's piece was already so cinematic, that I slowly discovered the two images that would become the backbone and the structure of the story. The first was an echo of the opening moments of the score. There is a pulsing note - which repeats - growing in intensity as the piece continues. I didn't know why - but I knew that we'd open the film with a woman and a bunch of flashing LEDs. Later in the score, there is this incredible moment of a screaming clarinet. That to me was the climax of the music - the point of release into this beautiful resolution. So, I had an opening moment of conflict, leading to an intense moment - where the only appropriate response was to scream.
And the story was birthed from there.
Blue Disquietude is a weird mix of creative process, personal reflection, and deep friendship. It's a collaboration that I am honored to share with you.
-writer/director, Courtney Ware
(by the way - the film is best experienced in a dark room with headphones and the volume turned up as loud as you can handle it)
Also, check out the incredible write up that Theatre Jones published about the film and the Sight of Sound Competition here!