“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:
What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
– C.S. Lewis
In the wake of the Me Too and Times Up movements, the film industry has been forced to come to grips with the fact that it is not as diverse or egalitarian as it would like to believe. Currently, in all aspects of production, there is a lack of female representation, as women make up less than twenty-five percent of the entertainment industry and fewer than thirty-five percent of speaking characters on screen are female. Further, in the low number of films that feature female protagonists, happiness and satisfaction are often correlated with external validation in the form of male approval, and deep connection is only possible with the direct involvement of male characters. While strides have been made in the twenty seven years since the iconic Thelma and Louise, friendship, particularly in films with young female protagonists, is oftentimes relegated the periphery, focused on people from the same background, and centered around a heteronormative romantic arc. My Senior Honor’s Thesis, Breathing Words, will address these issues, both by being female produced, as well as by centering around the deep and career driven friendship between two female protagonists from opposite ends of the globe, who despite having lived entirely disparate lives, find an unexpected understanding and acceptance in each other. Breathing Words is a short film that explores the reciprocal relationship between language and culture, the desire for deep connection, and the universal nature of human emotions. It is a cultural analysis, a personal confessional, a snapshot of life, and a love letter to friendship itself.
Scripts used to generally begin with the words FADE IN, transitioning the screen from darkness into technicolor as the world comes into focus. Though it was a standard of screenwriting textbooks for a long time, films now don’t always begin with this cue, as sharp cutting has become more popular. A teacher once described this technique to me as blinking, arguing that viewers find jump cuts more realistic because that is how we see the world. Though I am a frequent user of such quick and crisp cutting, I am not sure if I agree with her analysis. FADE IN, to me, seems like one of the most realistic things in film.
Change isn’t often sudden, even if feels that way at the time. New phases in life are born from a culmination of decisions, infinitesimal moments that lead us to something new. Yet, I sometimes define my life in terms of before and after. Before and after I rode a bike, moved to the dessert, got a dog, started CMU. I had defined the friendship that inspired this project in the same way, separating my live into segments: before I read a brilliant book and after that book brought me a rare friend. But recently, it has become more clear to me that the sudden understanding one feels with a new companion is only the beginning of a slow transition. Friendship grows and shifts and changes as you get to know one another, the image gradually becoming more clear. You cannot jump cut from a chance encounter into a deep connection. This is the undercurrent of my film: For a friendship to mean something, you need to take the time and effort to fade in.
- Returned from my semester in Copenhagen (5 Days Ago)
- Completed a rough outline and plot breakdown
- Started the first draft of the script
In the Next Few Weeks:
- Meetings with advisors and script draft review
- Consultations with production team
- First rounds of casting