Last month I short listed in the CineSpark Screenplay Competition held by CineVic Society of Independent Filmmakers with my short film script Lucid. After an intense live pitch session, my partner-in-crime, Deanna Milligan and I came out winners. We have been awarded a production package which includes a small cash prize and then lots of goodies such as access to rental gear, insurance etc. It’s a good prize! It comes with the condition that we will produce our short film ready for next year’s Short Circuit Film Festival. So it’s game on.
Lucid is an 9 minute black-comedy about the search for self, identity and creative expression. It’s about that crucial time in adolescence when we get to decide who we are going to be - navigating the sticky dichotomy of the compelling need to fit in and the screaming desire to stand out, and shout to the world “this is who I am”.
I have set the film in the early 1990s - at a time when artists, designers and musicians such as Damien Hirst, Cindy Sherman, Alexander McQueen and Nick Cave were fascinated with the horrific and the grotesque… when a whole generation was hooked on grunge and disintegration after the glitzy pop fuelled 80s.
But rather than dwelling in the squalor of heroin chic and the filthy clubs full of guitar wielding boys, I wanted the story to be about discovery and joy, I wanted it to be full of colour and curiosity and I wanted it to be a girl’s story.
Mia is our 19 year old protagonist who has been drifting through her adolescence, almost in a dream state; forgetting her voice, losing her way. She is funny and sweet, awkward and lost. She finds herself presenting a terrible self portrait to her college art class. She has, in a last minute addition, attached a raw rib-eye steak across the mouth of the big-eyed girl on the canvas.
Her class is unimpressed, her teacher disappointed. She is asked to resubmit her project, to dig deep and create something with heart. In a montage of surreal and funny flashbacks we see Mia’s path from being a gore obsessed, sprite-of-a-child through a series of knocks to her self confidence until she left in the present with no clue as to what she wants to say.
In a day full of grotesque yet beautiful triggers, she remembers her passion for disgust and her joy in shock. As an artist she realises that it’s far preferable to elicit any emotional response - laughter, fear, revulsion - rather than safe-nothingness. She storms into the classroom with complete control and delivers a blood splattering performance that is worthy of time and space as her classmates look on in awe, shock and admiration.
As an artist and illustrator - I am and have always been a visual storyteller. It is in the making of films over the last year that I have finally felt some true excitement about the things that can be said and the ways they can be conveyed. I feel as though I am at the beginning of an exciting creative trajectory - just as Mia is, at the end of Lucid.