"CLAUSTROPHOBIA" DIRECTED BY DOMINIKA BESINSKA, PRODUCED BY GLENDHA TAFNY
When thinking about 'SPACE', the first thing that comes to my mind is freedom. As far as I'm concerned, 'SPACE' has a very wide meaning, as I consider it to be everything that surrounds us. Our personal space. Individuality. Privacy. Therefore, when thinking about the lack of space, I think about the feeling of claustrophobia. However, I don't mean the kind of claustrophobia we get when we're stuck in the elevator or when someone turns the lights off. Not the fear of waking up in a coffin. What I mean is not the fear of tight space in the literal meaning of this word, but the feeling of being unable to breathe or stand stably, when there is not enough space around. Imagine an urban area, a huge, overcrowded city, like Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York or London itself. The city where you barely can find any place to escape the world. Wherever you go to, there are thousands of people, cars, noises and pollutions. Now, imagine being in a state of mind when you need to escape the world, when you need privacy, freedom and peace.
"Claustrophobia" is an experimental short film about a mental fear of tight space. We wanted to use the subject of claustrophobia, as a fear of big, urban cities and particularly crowded places. Throughout the use of various images and sound we wanted to present a human fear of the world.
'CLAUSTROPHOBIA' FRAME BY FRAME
We used 28 different images on the projections and each one of them symbolises something different. Although its structure may seem rather simple it has a beginning, a middle and an end. Let me start from the beginning with three similar images on the projections. Why did we decide to start our film with blood? Most importantly to create the atmosphere of fear and danger. Blood symbolises the pain, not necessarily a physical pain, but the inner, mental pain. The second image of ink represents the dirt of urban city and the image of smoke stands for pollutions. Those three images together are a symbolic introduction to what we're going to show in the next minutes.
Sound is a very relevant part of our film. Which is why, the next images reveal sources of the noise, things that are particularly annoying to the viewer's ears, such as machines, factories, vehicles, media hype etc.
Within the next couple of frames are similar to each other and they all present urban city confusion. Buildings, skyscrapers, city rush, lights and traffic noise, that's everything what surrounds us in a daily life in a huge city. We wanted to show it, as something extremely overwhelming for an individual human being. The character in our film is supposed to show her feeling of fear and exhaustion.
Light and darkness. In those images we're focusing more on a literal meaning of claustrophobia. Darkness is something what causes that feeling. Even though some people are more sensitive about it than others, we all are at least a bit scared of finding ourselves in a dark room. Being in a space with no light stimulates human's senses. Being completely blind for what surrounds us is terrifying. The light bulb is a small source of light that symbolises hope and the rescue. Fire. Imagine being close to the fire and feeling this terrible heat and smoke, which doesn't let you breathe or see properly. I believe, this is one of the most claustrophobic situations we can find ourselves in. This is a literal meaning of fear and in our film it's a symbol for the same kind of feeling, but in a normal daily situation. The clock. It symbolises the time passing by, the world rushing. People are always rushing somewhere and never find a second to stop and appreciate the moment. The time-lapse of a subway stands for the same thing and it represents the overwhelming noise and pollution.
From the beginning to the middle of the film the girl is getting more and more scared with every space she got into. In the middle we put the images of smoke again, the smoke itself and the smoke from factory chimney's. When the film comes to an end the smoke image connects with the image of clouds. It goes from a scary smoke cloud in the night to a natural image of the clouds in the reflection of the building. In those images below we connect the urban area with nature. We break a barrier between fear and state of calm. At this point the girl is starting to calm down, she looks around, finds herself outdoors in a nicer place than the previous ones and gets the feeling of freedom.
Throughout the use of clay on her body we wanted to create the feeling of someone being released, setting free from this inner pain. The clay symbolises the dirt of the world, pollution. It's a symbolic cage, prison. It represents the feeling of being imprisoned in the world.
PRE-PRODUCTION STAGE ISSUES AND THE EXPERIENCE GAINED THROUGH IT
Considering the fact that we've had a lot of problems throughout the pre-production stage, the production then was quite difficult and a little bit improvised. We were very disappointed to having to change our first idea, as the actress cancelled on us three times and our filming schedule was delayed. We wouldn't manage to film the whole thing in such a short time which is why we switched to something easier. However, I believe it was a great experience and lesson for us and I'm quite happy that some things didn't go as easy as thought it would be. We've learned a lot about how we should prepare ourselves for the production in the future. Even though we put a lot of effort into it I believe we could've done so much better if we planned more. I think that the first day of filming, although the footage went to waste, was a huge challenge for me as a director. I had to deal with the problem of not having an actress for the main character on the most important shooting day. I had the equipment, the whole crew and the actor on set and I couldn't just cancel everything. Me and my producer, Glendha, talked this through and decided to give it a try. We filmed all the scenes with the man, so the audience won't be able to see the lack of the other character in the room. Then we were supposed to film her scenes on the other day. As unfortunately she cancelled on us twice afterwards, we couldn't wait any longer.
BEHIND THE SCENES OF "CLAUSTROPHOBIA" PRODUCTION
On Wednesday was our filming day and this time everything went well. Me and Glendha met in the morning to prepare ourselves for a big day. Then the actress and the crew came and we starter preparing the set. The beginning was the hardest, as usual. We weren't sure about some little details but luckily we sorted everything. Marko did a great job, as our DOP, but I need to thank our helper, Zek, who took up the 1st AC role. Without him we wouldn't be able to finish filming on that day. First we did a couple of rehearsal shots and then we started filming. I was very happy with the actress as her actions were following the images perfectly. Besides, she really got the idea and was able to act the way we've wanted her to act. Shooting went really well the whole day and we managed to finish the whole thing the same day.
POST-PRODUCTION AND EDITING
Luckily, in spite of the whole schedule delay, we still had a couple of days to edit. We've talked to our editors, Rudi Leandro, a couple of days before and we decided to edit over the weekend. Before the editing I went through the footage a couple of times and tried to do some editing for myself, just to see how it looks and make sure how I want it to look like in the final version. After discussing it with Glendha we decided to keep only this one shot. We've had a lot of beautiful shots from different angles, but then we noticed some troubles with continuity and for the good of the film we kept this one shot in a final version. We met Rudi on Friday and explained him everything, how we want it to look like and what we expect from him. He searched through the footage once again, gave us some useful advices and started working on it. As we only used one shot the editing of the image went quite quickly. Then we started working on a sound. I gave him the music, I've found before and he took care of finding the sound effects. We met again on Sunday, so we could finish the sound editing and put the credits. After seeing the final version I was very happy with his work, especially sound, as he did it exactly how I've imagined it to be.
I have to sadly announce that we had to start the whole pre-production process all over again, as our actress cancelled on us two more times at a very last minute (late afternoon the day before filming). There was a point we had no idea what to do next and how to manage to do anything before Easter break. We were asking people around for some help, but there was not much we could do at this time. Unfortunately, we came across another problem, as I had my Easter holiday visit in Poland planned already. Under the circumstances, I was very disappointed having to rebook my flight for a week earlier than I was supposed to come back. And so I did. I came back to London today and I run straight from the airport to a pre-production meeting with my producer. Throughout the time when I was away we tried to keep in touch as much as possible, so our cooperation as a team could go on. We were forced to give up the first idea and change it completely to something simpler and possible to make in such short time. I hate to say that the whole situation took away the enthusiasm I had for this project. However, todays meeting went really well and I'm back on a track!. Not only did we manage to discuss everything carefully in terms of our new plan, but also we spent a lovely afternoon talking to our new actress on a dinner we went to together. I'm now actually happy about how the things turned out, because we managed to replace the actress with this beautiful, positive and creative professional, Mafalda Pereira. If it weren't for her I'm not sure if we could get back on our feet again. I look forward to working with her tomorrow, as a director on set.
By the time I got back to London, Glendha, my producer prepared everything, that we need for filming. The required equipment was already taken out of the loan store, the room was booked, as a location for our film and projections (I'll explain when talking about the current idea). I myself brought some props in my hand language from Poland and so almost everything is ready for tomorrow apart from... the crew. Obviously, many people have already promised to help us plenty of times. Unfortunately, our timetable kept on changing, because of the problems we had and so we were left with no crew again. Luckily, Rudi agreed to be our editor, so we shouldn't be worried about the post-production for now. As for tomorrow Marko undertook the challenge of agreeing to be our DOP at such short notice. Adam and Ruta also promised to come and help us out on set tomorrow. I hope everything will turn out well this time!
REFRESHED CREW & CAST
DIRECTOR - Dominika Besińska
WRITER AND PRODUCER - Glendha Tafny
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY - Marko Sulic-Woodgate
LIGHTNING - Marko Sulic-Woodgate and Ruta Nejuokink
EDITOR - Rudi Leandro
STARRING - Mafalda Pereira
Today we finally got to the first day of filming. Unfortunately, I can't say it went well, but considering the problems we came across I'm fairly satisfied with how we managed to solve most of them. I woke up extremely early to clean up my apartment, as this was our official location for filming. At the beginning everything was going according to schedule. I met Glendha, my producer, a bit earlier so we could discuss last details before filming. Then we met the crew in the loan store to take out the equipment. Yes! We managed to find the crew, however it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. We've had many, many people promising to help us with our project but they all let down. Luckily some of our colleagues agreed to help us at the very last minute. I was actually happy about how things turned out. Katrina Ytteborg, Jack Marlow and Adam Shearing - our fantastic crew helped us to prepare the set. Never before have I seen such a terrible mess (in my apartment), but it was a part of our artistic plan. Kat was an amazing DOP and with a cooperation of Jack, who was responsible for lightning they did a great job playing with lights and shadows, what looked absolutely beautiful on the camera.
Here is where the problems begun. First our actor showed up at the doors. My producer found him on Mandy.com and to be honest we were a bit scared and unsure if he will actually turn up or not. To our surprise he did! According to the description he's provided us with we were expecting a completely different person. Luckily, the image of the guy wasn't a very important part of our script so it didn't cause any major problems. He turned out to be a good dancer and a fine actor as well. (I also found out that he used to be a member of Boney M.!!!) We were still expecting our actress to come, but she was running late. When she finally got to the set she announced me, that she's only got 30 minutes to do the filming, as her classes were postponed. At this point I was speechless and had absolutely no idea what to do, as the actress was supposed to be in almost every single shot of our film. I sent her away, as there was nothing we could do and so we started brainstorming. The only thing we came up with, so the whole preparation don't go to waste, was to film some scenes with the man only, and so we did. Although it was really hard to film anything, so we can keep continuity when filming the girl separately, I believe, we ended up with some fine footage.
Even though I almost went through a nervous breakdown today, I must admit we handled it pretty well. It was a huge challenge for me, as a director, to save the day and don't let everything go to waste. I'm truly proud of myself and my producer. It was quite a struggle but I believe it can be done the way we're doing it. Fingers crossed, as tomorrow is another filming day and I'm expecting the actress to show up this time!
Major thanks to our wonderful crew, you guys were the best! xx
The past couple of days has been super stressful and this week is going to be even more stressful than the previous one. Today we had a pre-production meeting with our actress/dancer, who will be the main character in our film. We explained to her the whole idea for our film and she's truly excited to become a part of our project. Pre-production stage is finally coming to an end and we're almost ready to start filming tomorrow morning! Our shooting day will be Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. To sum up our hard work in terms of preparation I'd like to gather everything together.
There is a creature. It's not a human, nor is it an animal. She was kept away from society for her whole life and now she has to face the reality. One day, someone delivers her to someone else's apartment. She comes in a box, as animals do, when people bring them to the zoo. The man living in the apartment accepts the box and tries to discover its inside. The creature is terrified, she has no idea where she is, what she's doing there and who is the man looking at her. As soon as she leaves the box she runs away to the corner, where she immediately falls asleep on the floor. She has a dream about leaving the apartment. Everything is horrifying and she can't go any further, as she reaches the stairway (the use of vertigo effect to make the space look more scary). Suddenly, the man wakes her up from this nightmare and is trying to do everything in his power to approach the creature, talk to her or at least make her feel more comfortable in the environment she's in now. The creature doesn't want him to come any closer, touch her, etc. At some point she tries to defend herself and this is when she attacks the man. He can no longer deal with the creature and so he leaves the apartment nervously. When the creature is finally left alone in the place, she starts to discover it carefully through the use of her senses. She smells, touches and looks at everything that surrounds her. She comes closer to the window and opens the curtains. At first she gets scared of the light but after a couple of seconds... We see her face, as she's looking throughout the window. In the close up of her face we can only see some projections, that presents different outdoor spaces. She finally sees the beauty of the world, she gets the feeling of calm and freedom. In the last scene we cut to a completely different place. The creature is now outside in the field, running around in happiness. She found her peacefulness, as she discovered the beauty of nature and outdoors.
1.Wide shot of the space (Credits) - Someone knocks at the door, the guy opens the door and the postman bring a huge box;
2. Close up of the girl’s face - inside the box, dark, then the box is being opened and light appears on her face;
3. Bird’s eye shot of the box - box opens, the girl looks up terrified';
4. Wide shot - the girl tries to get out of the box;
5. Low angle medium shot of the guy - looking confident, tries to touch her;
6. The camera dollies out - end of the scene;
7. Long shot, camera follows the girl - she’s exploring the space, feeling strange, scared;
8. Tracking shot of the guy - comes into the room, brings her food, the girl runs away to the corner;
9. High angle shot go the girl in the corner - looking scared;
10. The guy puts the plate on the floor next to her and goes away;
11. Detail shot of the plate - we see girl’s hand reaching for food;
12. She’s smelling, exploring the food, eating slowly, takes a bite and puts it away;
13. She lies on the floor, trying to sleep;
14. Dream scene - dark, scary world, she tries to leave the house, sees the stairs (Vertigo effect) dolly zoom;
15. He comes to her, wakes her up, trying to approach her, she gets scared (dance scene), tries to bit him, becomes wild;
16. He gets angry and puts the keys on the table and leaves;
17. Dance scene - exploring the apartment, happy, touching things, smelling things;
18. She opens the curtains;
19. Close up of her face, we see the projector image on her face (trees, sky etc.), she gets happy;
20. Cuts to her close up outside;
21. Wide shot, the girl is outside running around happy, enjoying the outdoors;
Trans Alp: Après Quatre Pièces d'Erik Satie, Gnossienne Nº1 (Source: Free Music Archive)