Thursday October 8th—
Shot this week, two days in one of the composer/administrator’s house from the 1600s: beautiful windows that open with wood shutters looking out to palm trees and lemon/orange/grapefruit groves. All the fruit currently green…it will ripen in the winter. We have covered three scenes so far (out of currently 105!) Thus, we have begun the film. Ran through or stumbled really into many technical difficulties and survived surpassed—well we have not seen the rushes on l6mm yet in truth—but moving forward. So many lovely concatenations. We are double shooting in video and l6mm film—that has given us both backups and confirmed hope. Our Percy and Mary are splendid, and the ‘home movie’ or realism of the so-called un-acting, being actually, is staging undercurrents that should enrich the characters as they develop. That is my hope. We find an old iron lamp in one of the rooms, originally candles with hanging tools to cut the wick---in the hot sun the shadows move and marry wondrously silhouetted in camera.
Mary has been studying and writing, she just gave birth to her first child and is finding happiness with Shelley for the moment (!).
Meanwhile in the back garden of the Academy the persimmons are ripening. Ready for some single-frame magic—large orange globular—. Our Rome lab is in an old monastery nearby the Coliseum plus I have 5 willing interns with difficult schedules.
I find my self drawing closer and closer to Mary Shelley, she of the ambiguous Heroine—no wonder woman here—but a complex unmothered soul caught in web of her time whom even her sister, however jealous of Shelley’s love, describes as having a ‘noble intellect.’ Problematic and strange and of course Frankenstein’s’ creation will be added to the mix. Many ideas proliferating in this high ceiling spectacular studio. (I will learn how to add pictures so you can see)
Early in the week we heard a lecture from a Harvard prof about a lost Shakespeare play. Most interesting to me was when he commissioned a bunch of international theatre groups to perform it and they each took it into cultural particulars: the Japanese setting it as a bike boy play ala early Wooster group, motoring out a rear garage door; the Spanish version a confrontational attack on the ‘genre’ romantic comedic convention altogether —going to the heart of its inherently sexist center; the Zagreb group sticking with an eastern Europe wannabe capitalist west wish (did I hear death wish?).
Reading Henry James on Rome and the coast, Spezia specifically where Shelley died—he talks of the Italians as enjoying life of beauty without guilt. This wondrous luxury of sun and sweet smells, little blue flowers clambering over everything with startling flat-topped Mediterranean pines in the scenic distance combined with fat palm trees and a sparkle surprise flowering yucca behind a wall. The iron swallows that decorate and hold up rain gutters, the ancient knockers on the studded door to the house we filmed in today, the patterned black and white and grey floor. Yes the catholic church is corrupt but the detail craftsmanship, attention to beauty— the sense of salvaging and valuing the past because it has density history is soothing somehow. Even the dirty Tiber has a silver sheen at twilight crossing back on Ponte Sisto with its graffito of she wolves and mototrinos speeding by, a colored flash in our digital records.
Memorable spicy pasta, overpriced used clothing stores (where we searched for costumes and failing that helped ourselves to gelato), great shafts of light and air coming in our window in the mornings after the light has climbed the wall —a lazy inexorable lizard. Up against the parking garage the walls are covered with vines vertical green shaky and reminding me of Chinese letters in their linear insistence—so glossy with in themselves they nearly defeat the polluting motors.
We are flooded with sun and great weather.
This weekend we need some events—out of the city we hope—as we have worked so hard to get this far. Will keep you posted.
Baci a mis amici