Saturday, February 03, 2007

Paper Walls

I made this film in 2001 working with WHYY_TV 12, the PBS station in Philadelphia. I co-directed it with producer Glenn Holsten. It won two Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards, and several other proizes in festivals. it has been shown at many schools and universities, and is in the library collection of Bryn Mawr College.

I had recently finished my master's thesis on this history of film dream, fantasy and hallucination sequences, and was eager to try out some techniques, so when Glenn Holsten asked if there was any project combing live-action and animation that I had always wanted to make, I suggested the Yellow Wallpaper.

It interested me to read that the story was first thought of as a ghost story before it was taken up by women's studies courses.

S. Weir Mitchell had been a prominent Philadelphia Physician, and I was able to find his books in the University of Pennsylvania's medical library. He wrote books with great titles like "Fat and Milk" (I think that's what it was called) about women's ailments.

My good friend Sarah Iams made the beautiful costumes,a and we had fun shopping for fabric and props.

I remember saying to the person getting the flowers for her desk -- NO LONG STEMMED RED ROSES -- and what did they bring back but long stemmed red roses. We ended up using them anyway (cutting down the stems), but also went out into the garden surrounding the beautiful old house in Villanova where we were filming, and cut some pretty pink garden roses.

Hannah Dalton, the actress in the piece, had fabulous hair to pile on her head Gibson-girl style. She also happened to look just like the woman I had drawn in my storyboards. She was only 18 or 19 at the time, I think.

We shot it on film and edited on video at WHYY. I traced the shapes and animated in the spaces where the animation would be superimposed. We half-dissolved some of the animation with the background so that , for example, the figure looks like it is inside the bottle.