Salt Saliva Sperm & Sweat

Salt Saliva Sperm & Sweat (music video) 2'59", 16mm stereo mix © 1989

Background

Salt Saliva Sperm & Sweat is a 47 minute featurette film shot on 16mm. Funded by the Australian Film Commission, the film was shot late 1987, with post-production completed by year's end. The film is written and directed by Philip Brophy, and produced by Rod Bishop (prior to working together on Body Melt.

Credits

Cast

The Man - Phillip Dean
The Secretary - Jean Kitson
The Managing Editor - Lyndal Barry
The Neighbour - Rob Chuter
The Slob - Daniel Scharf
The Punk - Cheyanne Armitage
The Boy - Nicholas Hanigan
The Girl - Martine Murray
The Other Man - Jeff Kovski
The Waiter - George Huxley
Worker #1 - Chris Barry
Worker #2 - Lisa Ferguson
Worker #3 - Tom Fitzgerald
Worker #4 - Daniel Pollock
Worker #5 - Debra Force
Tea Lady - Joan Ferguson
Testicles - Philip Brophy
Buttocks - Maria Kozic
Body Double - Sandra Haack
Face-in-Shit - Andrew Haig
Tongues-in-Togas - Melanie Brelis
Tits-in-Hands - Mama Mona
Arrow-in-Eye - Michael Helms

Film release flyer © 1988

Crew

Direction - Phillip Brophy
Production - Rod Bishop
Concept & storyboard - Philip Brophy
Cinematography - Ray Argall & Mandy Walker
Art direction - Maria Kozic
Editing - Philip Brophy
Continuity - Ian Haig
Script Editing - Rod Bishop
Soundtrack design & production - Phillip Brophy
Sound recording & engineering - Steve Edwards, Ian Haig, Malcom Phillips & Phillip Samartzis
Wardrobe - Mark Hobbs
Set dressing - Dominic Owen
Make-Up - Jayne Burns & Shaun Walker
Visual Effects - Brian Pierce
Dummy construction - Steve Meier

Production still - Rod Bishop, Philip Brophy, Lyndal Barry & Steve Meier © 1988

2013

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

2012

Nova Cinema, Melbourne

1994

A PRESENT FOR WILLIAM BURROUGHS - ICA, London

1993

Lantaren/Venster Cinema, Rotterdam
Eldorado Cinema, Antwerp
Effenaar Cinema, Eindhoven
Vera Cinema, Groningen
Ekko Cinema, Utrecht
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

1990

Channel 4 broadcast screenings, UK
AURORA AUSTRALIS - Charles Scott Gallery, Vancouver; University of Calgary, Calgary
MATINAZE - Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

1989

Australian National Gallery, Canberra>
Western Australian Film & TV INstitute, Perth
Soundtrack LP released on Present Records
Music-video produced for Present Records
Domestic VHS video release through Home Cinema Group

1988

Limited theatrical release - State Film Theatre, Melbourne & Mandolin Cinema, Sydney - thru DUMB Films
Edinburgh Film Festival, Edinburgh
AUSTRALIAN INDEPENDENT CINEMA - ICA, London
BACK OF BEYOND - UCLA, Los Angeles
Melbourne International Film Festival, Melbourne (Winner, Best Australian Short Film)
Australian Film Institute Awards nomination - best soundtrack
Sydney Film Festival, Sydney (Finalist, Greater Union Awards)

Production still - Lyndal Barry © 1988

Overview

from the 1987 AFC submission

Conceptual breakdown

A conventional script outline or treatment is inappropriate in conveying the form of SALT, SALIVA, SPERM & SkEAT. The form of the project is a series of interlocking blocks which form a set of narrative groupings, housing stories both within and across other stories. it starts with ' the man asleep in bed and finishes in exactly the same way. The four stories can thus be perceived as both a repetition of the one story as well as one larger story that covers four consecutive days. It's not what happens, but how it happens. The film's central story is repeated four times ; not through a summary, but in each and every detail. However each time the story is told in a totally different way:

(1) First it is told by centering on food - eating, consumption, mouths, stomachs. Every detail centered on in the flow of action is either described, suggested or aligned with oral consumption. This is the SALT section.
(2) Next the story is told solely in terms of swearing. This is the only section that features any words, and the only words spoken are swear words. Their degree of vulgarity represents the intensity of any particular plot point or character interaction. This is the SALIVA section.
(3) The next version of the story deals with all manner of sexual representation - from the symbolic to the graphic. Simply, any sexual undertones possible in the scenario are surfaced so as to draw attention to them and their status of depiction. This is the SPERM section.
(4) Finally, the story is told through varying acts of violence, whereby dramatic conflict (between characters and objects) is coded by acts ranging from slapping faces to smashing plates to attempted suicide. This is the SWEAT section.

The one story told four times - each time in a 'dialect' of action-signs, visceral-effects and symbolic-codes. Other levels of the story will be pieced together across the four stories:

(a) the text that the man types up at work will constitute one long piece of writing totalling 13 paragraphs : for example, the first paragraph proof-read on day 2 will be the last paragraph written on day 1, etc. As the film progresses, the repetition of the days will become as apparent as the continuation of his typed text. The text will be a running commentary on how linguistic modes are represented in film language, although its finished form will not be as didactic as it sounds here. Its references and examples will be made specific to incidentals of the actual scenes in which the typing occurs, thus allowing the text to also form a commentary on what is happening in the film at that point in time.
(b) the dreams that the man experiences in the toilet will each flow on to the next, accenting abstract collages which will convey various textures and feelings of hunger, pain, arousal, etc.
(c) the scenes shown on video and television in each of the stories will be an edited loop of a key scene from some key films, acting as a commentary on the manipulative essences functioning in the relative genres of sex and violence:
SALT: the excretement-eating scene from Passolini's Salo (1975)
SALIVA: Othon proposing to Camille in Straub's Othon (1969)
SPERM: Kitten Natavidad masturbating with a vibrator in Meyer's Beneath The Valley of the Ultra-Vixen (1978)
SWEAT: the arrow-in~the-eye scene from Cunningham's FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH (1980).

Knowledge of these films is not particularly important, because as these films provide vivid commentaries on the psycho-analytic side to consumption, language, sex and death, each of the specified scenes visually convey what a thousand words could not. The idea of looping these scenes accentuates the process of condensation and distillment that makes them so effective.

The four narrative levels in the stories can be stacked up thus:
(1) dramatic - the character interaction/the plot
(2) linguistic - the computer text
(3) abstract - the dream sequences
(4) visual - the video/tv scenes

Production still - Steve Meier, dummy, Lyndal Barry (hands), Mark Hobbs & Philip Brophy © 1988

Technical

from the 1987 submission

Acting

The same actors and actresses appear in each scene. Their delivery will be totally realistic, even though at times it would appear impossible for people to actually behave in such ways in such situations. The realism is important in sustaining the ruptures caused by their characters. If the film was stylized/distanced/ironic in its presentation, it would be too easy to treat the film as an absurdist, anarchistic comedy of manners. It is important that that theatrical style does not cloud or cover the exposure of the cinematic language in operation. This is why the plot and characters are to a degree pushed into the background (by virtue of the banal plot and the non-eventfullness of the protagonists' lives). In effect, this would also create a peculiarly 'ordinary' aura ; one that would indicate how the more sensationalist aspects contribute the driving forces and effects to the narrative flow. The story and its characters - in their mundane realism - are intended to provide the skeletal framework for the textuality of the film.

Camerawork

A lot of the cinematography will be in extreme close-up, bringing the viewer in close contact with many elements which are both fascinating and repulsive : organic fluids, material substances, physical presences, etc.. Camera movement will often pass by or even through characters and locations to centre on related visceral aspects, reinforcing the notion of foregrounding these graphic areas. In total, the photographic image will be highlighted as a medium able to work on our senses and sensibilities with exacting precision. This film will suggest little, but show all.

Soundtrack

As a close look at any mode or style of film production today will reveal, the soundtrack is incredibly important in enforcing the cinematic experience as one fused assault on our audio-visual reception. In the most manipulative films, the soundtrack generally is the central effector of an emotional response due to its near-invisible, half-conscious appearance and presence. This means that a compelling image can be made all the more so by a skilful manipulation of its accompanying sound. Close-mike sounds will thus complement the close-up photography.

Production still - dummy & Lyndal Barry (hands) © 1988

Film still - dummy & Lyndal Barry (hands) + Phillip Dean © 1988