Of Carrots & Q-Tips

To DeLane Lea tonight, for a screening of Simon Aitken’s Monologue Triptych.

Simon’s an independent filmmaker whose work has been quietly working it’s way in from the margins. His work is now popular enough that he could have easily filled the screening room twice over. I ended up sitting on the floor, and I’ve got a credit on the thing. Thanks, Simon.

The piece is a nested set of three shorts, each giving a different aspect to the character of an artist, bent on unburdening himself during an increasingly wine-soaked evening. The sole actor, Benjamin Green, does outstanding work in inhabiting a character who, let’s be frank, is a major-league arsehole. He describes the beating of an acquaintance with a pool cue as “probably the fourth-worst thing I’ve done”, and freely admits that most of the people he knows actively despise him.

Despite this he remains likeable, and manages to turn the viewers’ assumptions around in the third film, revealing the loss of his wife and daughters. The tears running down his face in this final section wash the bravado of what has gone before away, and the final close-up of a drawing done by his children is genuinely affecting. He perfectly serves Ben Woodiwiss’ sharp, funny and moving script.

I was the colourist on Monolouge Triptych. Shot on HDV, I had to work on a downconverted version due to circumstances I won’t bore the casual reader with. I was pleasantly surprised by the end results, however, with the projection being pretty accurate to what I’d graded. After the first fifteen seconds anyway. A minor projector fault led to the first couple of shots coming out bright green. My heart hit my boots, then my throat, in very quick succession. I was congratulated by the DOP on the look of the piece afterwards. Considering how it could have gone, that gave me a bit of a glow. Makes a change from having to explain what I do to people in a slow careful tone.

Oh, had to do that too. Colourist’s curse. Hey ho.

Boozy conversation in the bar afterwards led to Ben Green proudly fessing up to his carrot-chopping technique (those are impeccable 5mm slices, people!) and in the best way to get an actor to cry on cue. (Soap and water on a q-tip applied to the tear glands just before shooting.)

In general, then, a fun night with just the one spike of abject terror. (Simon, how was it for you?) As screenings go, that’s a bit of a score.

Check out a preview of Monolouge Triptych here
(granted, without my lovely grade, but you get the idea.) It’s well worth a look.

Finally, a few words from Simon himself:

“I knew it would be a good night with all my friends, but when I walked into the screen and say that it was packed, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was amazing. Then to talk to all those people as well afterwards, it was really good. Only thing I need to get for these screenings is an assistant, to help organize the actually night. When you have to do everything yourself to don’t get a real chance to talk to people. Apart from that it was really good to see everybody and people really enjoyed the films. That’s all I could ask for.”

That says it all, really. Here’s to the next one!

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Writer. Film-maker. Cartoonist. Cook. Lover.

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