Casting Director: Emily

Hello!

Today I worked as a Casting Director for Mariam Afrahi and Fred Iyeh’s film “Emily”.

I was approached by Mariam, the Director for the film, to be their sole Casting Director which was a nice thought!

My job was to film the auditions and afterwards give feedback on both the actors’ performances after the said auditions. I eventually did some cold readings of the script, for the part of Emily’s mother, so it would help in the smooth running of the actor’s audition.

Prior to date, I went with Fred, the Producer, to meet with both actors individually and then escort them to the audition venue. This gave us time to all talk with each other and get acquainted before the audition began.

Overall it was an enjoyable afternoon and I am glad to have been part of the project.

Here are some photos that Fred took during both of the auditions:

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Scriptwriting: “Doll Encounter”, script finalized!

Hello!

I have now finalized the script!

The story has developed tremendously and in ways that I didn’t actually expect until I was writing and then re-writing them.

It’s been very enjoyable and am excited to conclude it. The official title is “Doll Encounter”. I wanted it to be a play on words so people could possibly think it was a misspell with “Dull” instead of “Doll” and the obvious metaphor of the future encounter Michael would have with (various) dolls.

The premise of the storyline is that Mr. Turner and Michael possess a comradeship with one and other which consists of Michael visiting Mr. Turner, at his house, and they talk about their days and what’s on their mind and play monopoly together. Yet, Mr. Turner has a secret he’s kept for years that no one, not even Michael, knows about. The story then starts to follow Michael’s small discoveries until he uncovers Turner’s dark secret.

From the beginning the characters’ introduction is presented off the bat and the audience accompanies the evolution of their unlikely friendship with a close eye.

As I have mentioned from the previous post, my intention with the introduction of a children focused television show and the doll would serve to fool the audience into thinking that Mr. Turner could be a possible paedophile or that he killed a child or something along those lines. That is because I love it when television shows that I personally follow have those plot twists that no one is expecting and the thrill that comes from it when you realize you were wrong the entire time and how the truth is so much better (or worse) than you could’ve imagined.

Those are big shoes to fill, admittedly, but I am happy to say that I have given my best to do so.

Scriptwriting: Female masking and dolls

Secrets of the Living Dolls

Hello!

Since the last time I updated, I have finished going through my extensive list that I wrote regarding the elements I wanted to include in my story and I have now given names to the characters. The retired old man is named Mr. Turner and the young teenage boy who plays basketball is named Michael.

Through my research period, I knew I wanted Mr. Turner to possess a dark secret that Michael would uncover. SO I started to look into subcultures existent and society and since I used to watch a lot of TLC programs and knowing how some of them looked into the unlikely and abnormal lives of regular people, I remembered about a specific program that dealt with real life people that tried to transform themselves into life sized dolls. I mean, there was a man who did so many plastic surgeries so he could look like the Ken doll!

As I looked further into it, I liked the idea of the search for “perfection” which was the primary focus of the people presented in the program, but that still didn’t like the correct idea for the a sixty-five year old man. It wouldn’t be plausible for, at that age, to start looking for “perfection”. Whatever that might be.

And that’s how I stumbled into the world of female masking.

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The whole notion of it wasn’t completely new to me but as I researched more and more, it soon started to make sense to the point where Mr. Turner could very well be a female masker or “rubber doll” as they are called.

To know, after watching a documentary regarding the theme, that the majority of men who dress up in latex suits and go around as women can happen for the simple fact that they enjoy it and enjoy the feeling of youthfulness and “beauty” it provides them by being someone they’re not.

Bingo. That’s Mr. Turner’s secret!

But I also didn’t want that to be the only thing that distinguished Mr. Turner from other people. He needed something more. Another twist.

So why not also introduce the idea that he is a doll collector? It is a good segway that serves as a decoy to his actual secret. Being a female masker, he already appreciates the innate perfection that dolls possess with her flawless porcelain skin, big eyes, cupid lips and perfectly sculpted hair. It seemed like a perfect idea.

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The inspiration behind it came from my fascination with the show “American Horror Story” where, in season three, one of the male characters, called Spalding, possessed his own secret room in the attic where he had dozens of dolls which he played with and even dressed with doll’s clothes.

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And due to the fact that Mr. Turner has a secret room where he keeps the dolls and dresses up in the “rubber doll” ensemble, I felt like the scene was begging for a tea party scene not only because it feels appropriate but also because he needed to be doing something important enough to Michael want to investigate. Thus my inspiration for the tea party came from my childhood movie, “Alice in Wonderland”.

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Now, I’ve decided that the visual aspect of the story if very important for the flow of information that is provided, thus I have decided to balance it out with brief introductions of dialogue, as a way to even out the current of the story.

I’ll check back with the next update!

Lamentation: Prop hunt

Hello!

I have just come back from a much needed prop hunt in West Hampstead as the shooting period is neigh!

But anyways, the major props I needed to scout out today were specifically for the dinner scene and bedroom scene.

It’s been difficult to find good items that don’t look either tacky or ‘out of place’ with a home of a retired and widowed elderly man. Thankfully, after the third charity shop, I found myself emerged in one for Cancer Research UK and they had the most beautiful and perfect silver wrist watch that we needed for the our character, Donald, as that is one of the presents his wife, Eleanor, offers him before she died and that is one of the symbols of their love that leads him to have a flashback.

Then, I found a number of different items that would serve perfectly for the flashback dinner sequence with Eleanor and Donald together. I had already decided that the overall colour in that scene would be red. Because the colour red is a good representative of love and passion and that is what we wanted to transmit with the scenes where Eleanor would be present.

So in the charity shops I went to, I found a lovely red table mat with thin gold stripes covering it alongside two red candle holders and a translucent light pink flower vase that can tie up the dinner scene altogether!

 

This means that the scenes shot in the present time, only with Donald, showcase his depressive and grieving side where the colour balance of the image, scenery and clothing will be in the black/grey/white colour scheme since it is a reflector of his mood. But the scenes where we see him with Eleanor, will be bright in colour with cremes/blues/pinks/brown/etc.

Scriptwriting: genre, characters and ideas

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Hello!

Our teacher has set out for us to create an original 8-10 page script for our final year assignment. Tough cookie, this one.

As the world is my oyster, I set out to trying to, first of all, decide what genre I wanted my story to centre around so that after deciding on that I could move on and decipher what story am I going to tell.

So after a while of thinking about what I would like to write about and having been watching films and television shows in hopes of finding inspiration, it finally struck me.

The genre I am going to focus on is suspense/thriller. For me, this is one of the best genres in storytelling as the storyline always follows with the unexpected in ways that, as a viewer, you wouldn’t think about. The being one step ahead of the audience is something very compelling and what drew me to it.

Currently, the way I am dividing all of my ideas follows the rules that were set out by Tom Lazarus’s book “The Last Word – Definitive Answer To All Your Screenwriting Questions”.

In it, Lazarus explains is technique of dealing with the downpour of ideas that can happen at any point and as a way of being prepared, as to not forget anything, for future notice is to divide his ideas in different documents titled: Characters, Scenes, Ideas and Miscellaneous. And he encouraged to not limit yourself and to just write down anything and everything that comes to mind in regards to the story as it might be something amazing to work with later on.

So this is how I started, I started to write down specific elements like: man, retired, gardening, michael, basketball, dolls, monopoly, house, planting flowers in the garden, Scottish, etc.

I just let all my ideas flow uninterrupted, always having the main focus of the genre in the back of my mind.

So I am now going to work through all that I’ve written and will get back to you as soon as I have another update.

See you soon!

Fifty Shades Of Grey: Film

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I eventually saw the film earlier than I anticipated because two of my lovely girl friends bought me a ticket (and popcorn!) and made it a girls night out event for which I am so grateful!

So to say that I was eager to see the film translation of the book was one of the biggest understatements of this year thus far! To the point that I was already squirming in my seat of giddy schoolgirl excitement even before the trailers began rolling.

But now onto the juicy part of this post, the actual review. Again this post represents only my opinions and points of view on what I felt the movie portrayed. If you prefer to, beforehand, read my book review then just click here. 

  • Pace

The very first thing I noticed was that for the first 30 minutes of the film, the pace of it was very quick. Too quick. From the brief introduction of the Christian and Anastasia to Kate’s brief appearance all the way to Anastasia and Christian’s first kiss happened, in what felt like, a blink of an eye. Both me and one of my friends were surprised at how fast everything was happening. I completely understand that when a book, that is hundreds of pages long, is adapted to a screenplay format that things get changed or go missing or get completely revamped. But I felt that because of that, precious details were lost.

Like how Kate is so overprotective of Anastasia almost as a big sister would be or how sexually charged the environment is on the morning after Anastasia was drunk and Christian brought her to his house and they had breakfast together. Or how they talked so much more before the idea of the contract even took place.

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  • Cheesy (ness)

A couple of times, some of the lines would feel either too sudden or too cliché. Sometimes both. Like the screenwriter just threw them in there because there was no space anywhere else in the storyline. For example, the moment Anastasia tells Christian that to be an English Literature student, you have to be a romantic, which leads him to just suddenly ditch everything and decides that their coffee date is over. Or when, right after that, he saves Anastasia from being run over by a bicycle rider and he, first of all, just immediately puts his hand on her cheek when they are not that well acquainted yet and then proceeds to say something along the lines of “I’m not the man for you.”  Seriously, the only thing missing was rain and the sound of a quartet playing in the background.

And my ‘favourite’ one is when, out of the blue, he says to Ana “If you were mine, you wouldn’t walk for a week” which felt completely sudden and out of context (and I can vouch that the rest of the audience members felt the same way) and then leans over the bed and takes a bite of her toast. It felt too porn style cheesy to be sexy, to be honest.

 

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  • Belt whipping

This scene was by far the one I was most petrified about because when I read it, I remember feeling a wave of disgust wash over me as I felt the pain of every lash he inflicted, alongside Anastasia. And as both a woman and a feminist, I was not comfortable with that. And seeing it on screen just made it worse. I felt very conflicted about it long after the film ended and the credits were rolling. Part of me understands that Ana decided to let him ‘go at it’ because she wanted to see how far he would actually go and then when she realized what that actually meant she preferred to not give him the satisfaction of saying the safe word to make him stop. Part of her wanted to endure it for him and for herself, to make herself believe that she could do it. But then another part of me, that is still mildly dictated by what society keeps yelling in my ears, is that that scene at a first glance/impression is abuse. Everyone has their own opinions about it and this is just mine. But I commend Dakota and Jamie for having the belief and courage to bring that scene to life in the best way possible because they believed that the audiences would understand the undertones and the motives behind it. So kudos.

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Now onto the parts that I enjoyed:

  • Sex scenes

To be honest, I enjoyed the sex scenes because of they way they were shot. The DoP, Seamus McGarvey, made them look so elegant and artistically beautiful in a way that made them feel intimate, as a viewer on the outside of it. As any sex scene should be. I never got the feeling that those scenes were cheap or trashy. Even whilst Dakota was fully unclothed and tied to a bed being flogged. I didn’t feel like she was diminished or degraded. But actually she looked empowered because she was at the end of receiving pleasure from Christian. It was comfortable to watch, in a weird way. And yes, it was hot. There I said it. Now shut up about it. Let’s move on.

 

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  • Anastasia’s portrayal

One thing that I was fervently hoping for but at the same time, I wasn’t sure would happen was that Dakota would bring more ‘life’ to Anastasia’s character, And I am glad to say that that was exactly what happened! She was sassy, funny and sexy when she needed to be. I felt that Dakota brought an inner strength and independence to the character that was lacking in the book which led to the showcase of the beginning stages of the woman Anastasia was always meant to be. For example, when she clearly broke his ‘no drinking’ rule when with her mother in Georgia and unashamedly cites the article and paragraph of the rule from the contract; how she controlled the atmosphere in the negotiation scene leading to a power shift between her and Christian and, my favourite part, when she stood up for herself, keeping her head high and not shedding a single tear when she left him. Which lead him to go after her and the moment she tells him “No!”, without breaking eye contact and he simply stops and becomes rooted to the floor. I was either doing thumbs up or heart shapes when that was happening like the fan girl that I am. #noshame

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  • Christian’s vulnerability

I felt that Jamie brought new levels of emotion to Christian Grey. There were a few glimpses here and there throughout the film that made it more understandable why he is the way he is. For example, when he tells her the truth about his biological mother, unable to look at her, even though she is silently asleep; when he tries and fails to contain his fear turned to anger when Anastasia confronts him about his issue of being touched or his facial expression after he belts Anastasia and she looks at him like he is a sick bastard, a monster, and he just looks like a ‘little lost boy’ with nowhere to go, no where to run and no one to go to. I felt like it was believable how throughout the movie, it become more and more visible the tiny chinks in Christian’s armour slowly made themselves shown and he starts to slowly lose his precious self control.

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There is a lot more that I could say but then this post would be even bigger than it already is!

I’d say it was enjoyable regardless of it’s negative points but very little films are completely all positive so that being said I would watch it again.

Rating: 7/10
DISCLAIMER: The photos shown in this blog post are not mine.

Fifty Shades Of Grey: Book review

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I’ve been considering if I wanted to do a review on this book for a week, since it is such a delicate topic for so many readers. But decided to go ahead on it because it is my personal opinion and I have the right to express it as I choose.

So, as many of you probably already know, Fifty Shades Of Grey is part of a trilogy of books by author E.L. James and the content of the story is very much sexually driven as to explain the connection between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.

The main story behind it is that a young girl, in her final year of university and is majoring in English, Anastasia Steele unwillingly falls into doing an interview for her university’s student newspaper on the new up and coming and successful business man by the name is Christian Grey. This interview was to be conducted by her friend, Katherine Kavanaugh, but when she found herself sick with the flu, she convinced Anastasia to go in her place because the opportunity to profile the CEO for Grey Enterprises was too good to pass up for a journalist.

And this is how their story unfolds in front of the readers’ eyes.

  • I have mixed feelings and opinions regarding this book, without a doubt. And with this in mind, I will start with what I don’t enjoy about it:Anastasia is constantly showcasing her immense low self esteem about her physical appearance and, for the most part of the book, is “in awe” of how a man of “such beauty” can possibly feel any sexual attraction to her what so ever.

This profoundly irritates me. Maybe, it’s because I enjoy a strong and empowered female character, but for the majority of the book Anastasia is found struggling with her own personal demons and bouts of self doubt that she imposes on their “relationship”. I understand that she over thinks situations a lot, I can relate to that, but to not understand, after countless sexual encounters with this man, that he lusts after her in such an intense and undenying way is very frustrating as a fellow reader of the book who just so happens to be a woman.

  • Christian gets too possessive and dominant over her, to the point that she becomes slightly frightened of telling him what she feels and wants.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I personally find it quite enticing when a man is not afraid to tell the world that I’m his and that he wants me so intensely that the world just melts away when he pushes me against a wall.

But, I don’t agree or enjoy when a man gets so possessive to the point that he thinks that he is entitled to tell me what I can or can’t wear, what I can or can’t eat and who I can or can’t be friends with (specially if it is another man). This just crosses all types of boundaries for me. That being said, there were a few times in the book that I found Christian to be too imposing towards Ana and that I hoped she would have set her foot down harder when he did that.

Now onto the more positive notes:

  • I don’t agree or like when people say it’s an abusive film prone to empowering the continuation of domestic violence by masking it within a fake romance story.

First of all, it is impossible for the film to be about domestic violence since the characters aren’t married or even in a full blown relationship through the majority of the book. So that point dies there.  

Second, I don’t agree that the story condones physical or emotional abuse towards women, in this case in the personification of Anastasia. Yes, there are a few times that Christian does things that she doesn’t like or agree physically speaking, but as soon as she tells him this, he never does it to her again without her strict consent. Throughout the book, all of the sexual acts that they engage in are all consensual. Yes, she tries some things out that she finds not enjoyable and that is depicted in the book, for example: whipping with leather whips or spanking with a belt. Even for me reading them, I didn’t particularly enjoy them and yes, Ana didn’t like it either which lead to an emotional moment but as they talked about it together, she never gets whipped again. In life, you need to always try something first so you can decide if you enjoy it or not. The same applies to sexual ventures.

  • When it’s said that it is not a romance.

I am partial on this one because through the majority of the book, they have sex, plain and simple. Not a lot of emotion involved apart from the intense longing and lust they have for one and other. But as the story progresses and as Christian starts to give in to Ana more and more, because of all the concessions he does for her, the story starts to slightly turn as it’s revealed that Ana is starting to develop feelings for him on a deeper level and his actions also enhance how he, himself is starting to feel  same.

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Overall, the book was unexpected to me in the sense that I would not enjoy it one bit because of what I’ve heard it does in describing women but I will say that I was quite surprised when I disagreed with some of the things I’ve heard about it. Their “arrangement” is uncommon and is ‘out of the norm’, but only because it showcases some links to the BDSM community even though it doesn’t delve too much into it.

This being said, it is a very repetitive book in the sense that both Anastasia and Christian’s characters seem to be repeating themselves a lot and I find there is a bit of a lack of character development for both parties and I would’ve liked to see them more in depth.

But I firmly believe this trilogy has received a lot more hate than it deserved and it frustrates me a bit that, even in 2015, sex is still a taboo in the modern world.

 

Rating: 6/10