Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Notes on Charade

My latest film Charade is based on themes and incorporates manipulated footage from the original 1963 film with Cary Grant and Audry Hepburn. Normally when I make a film I don’t publicly talk about the research that goes into it’s creation. But this time I’m experimenting  sharing my thought processes. My goal in this film was to explore the themes of identity and deception. Here’s part of my original proposal:

I’m interested in the core themes of the original film, identity and deception. The film is full of people who are not who they say they are, including the actors themselves. I’ve heard many stories of people who have changed their names, lied about their past and created new identities. The reasons for this kind of deception intrigues me and is why I want to make this film.

Another way of phrasing my curiosity is asking the question why do people lie? Below is a sample of my thought process.

Why do people lie?

Lies are at the center of the original film. No one is who they say they are. The hero of the film changes his identity though out the film. The heroine doen’t know who to trust. The question is asked “Why do people lie?”  The answer given is “ Usually there’s something they want and feel the truth won’t get it for them.” This is a very pragmatic answer. It’s a very good answer, and works for many situations, but if you consider that everyone in the film are actors and not who is who they say they are, then you’re saying that acting is lying, and this answer is no longer sufficient. So why do people act becomes part of the question why do people lie.  Lying becomes an even more complicated issue. Lying becomes part of the creative process.

In the middle of these questions are issues of truth and identity. An actor might tell you they take on a role, because they have some understanding of that character. In the safety  of the pretend world of acting they can explore the outer limits of their own identity. So the question they would ask is what is truth, and what is true about themselves. The lie of acting would then be a test of what is true about their own identity.

So considering these issues I have a theory. People lie because it sets them free. The simple answer is it sets them free of the truth. But truth and identity are complicated, and can’t be channeled into good and bad behavior. People reinvent themselves on a daily basis. Identity is never stagnant. Some people may change their names and invent a new life for themselves. They may do it for deceptive reasons. They may do it for personal gain, a lie created to get ahead in the world, or then again it might be testing the boundaries of what is true about themselves.