The Sound of Milk is a sci fi gender war film. It doesn't end well.
The year 3073. No Northern Hemisphere. South East Asia is now one land mass, including Australia. No Caucasian genes exist. Men and women have become separate species. Women can self pro-create. Men have redesigned themselves as cyborg machines. Gender war rages. Women maintain low frequency oscillations which keep male cyborgs at bay. Having not produced sperm for over a millennium, men use new skeletal cyborgs to enter the women’s terrain in an attempt to discover the secret of organic life. But a time bomb is clicking. Men’s use of toxins and women’s use of low frequencies are unsettling the earth’s tectonic plates. Safe ground is being sought by both sides as planetary destruction looms. Amidst this chaotic race against time and space, one woman dreams of an end to the war. One woman breaks the taboo and falls in love with a transsexual skeletal cyborg. But that cyborg is not what she appears to be. Her creator might be the ultimate nemesis to all women.
Writer/director/producer - Philip Brophy
Script editors - Monica Zetlin & Rosemary Dean
Japanese script translation - Tetsuro Shimauchi
Character readers - Kim Gyngell & Alice Garner
Production development - Julie Marlowe; Fiona Eagger
Score development - Philip Brophy
Research development - Distinctly Australian Fellowship, Australia Film Commission
Script development - Film Victoria, Melbourne
In 3073, women are different. They have perfected an organic means of self-procreation. Font is one such woman. She lives in Wospan – an exclusively female zone in the sprawling Pan-Pacific land mass of the Southern Hemisphere. Font patrols the WoSpan Rim from incursions by Skeletons: specially designed cyborgs who can cross over into WoSpan.
Skeletons are designed by men who are located in a series of all-male cities away from WoSpan. Men have become an increasingly threatened species. Having not produced sperm for over a millennium, they are desperate to discover – and possess – women’s secret of self-procreation. WoSpan is guarded from men using powerful sonic barriers.
Font’s life is focused and tough until she encounters a beautifully androgynous mutant Skeleton – Ra – attempting to cross over into WoSpan. Ra is a fugitive from a city in the men's world called Lock1. An inexplicable love develops between Font and Ra in the midst of Font's assignments and Ra's difficulty in adjusting to life in WoSpan. And as their love deepens, it seems possible that Ra is not as naive and innocent as she appears.
Time is running out for the women. WoSpan's sonic barriers are weakening, just as men's plans for invasion and colonization are gaining momentum. In Lock1, momentous power struggles are taking place. Tork is a chemist – one of many who conducts funded research into the invention of a synthetic sperm. His support comes from Boushinja – head of a top organization in Lock1. They each engineer elaborate double-crosses by hiring two unscrupulous aids – Ro and Shon. But Boushinja is unaware that Tork has his own clandestine plan to invade WoSpan, destroy its sonic weaponry and colonise women.
The climax is reached as Tork confronts Font – whom he had tortured years ago in one of his many ugly attempts to uncover women's secret of self-procreation. Therein a confounding triangle between Tork, Font and Ra is exposed, creating a situation which leads to a harsh decision to ensure the ultimate survival of Women.Production sketch - WoSpan Rim
Font – early-30s, lithe, extreme close-cropped hair, Japanese. She is a Griller, conducting border patrols along the WoSpan perimeter. She has a distinctive Amazonian feel about her and enjoys the solitude of her Griller patrols. Font is attracted to Ra's frailty which resonates with Font's own inner softness. Calm, smooth, rigorous.
Ra – early 20s, slim, petite, androgynous, Korean. She is a Mutant Skeleton, exhibiting discernible traits of femaleness. She always seems lost, but comfortable. Ra gravitates toward Font in a relationship which deepens and gains attraction. Tender, mysterious, innocent.
Tork – mid-40s, chubby, unkempt, Chinese. He is a Chem – a freelance chemist involved in trying to invent a synthetic sperm. He has invented Ra as part of his hidden agenda to invade WoSpan by himself. Anonymous, secretive, cynical.
Ro – 30s, muscular, brooding, Japanese. He is a Zoner – a type of sheriff or street cop, usually corrupt. He knows the whole of Lock1 is corrupt and wants in on it all. Intense, volatile, unpredictable.
Shon – 30s, athletic, robust, Chinese. He is a Zoner working with Ro. With an endearing dumbness, he follows every order given him by fellow Zoner Ro. Immature, impressionable, naive.
Boushinja – large, stocky, early 50s, bald, Japanese. He is a powerful head of one of the top Orgs in Lock1. He has funded Tork's experiments for many years: Boushinja wants to control the Locks through the discovery of a synthetic sperm. Theatrical, sullen, envious.
Cassandra – 50s, elegant, statuesque, Indian. She is the Crone of WoSpan. Her strength and resilience lies in her commitment to governing WoSpan with a compassionate firmness. Mature, eloquent, decisive.
Kuhlshahl – 40s, large, New Guinean. She is an Alien - a breed of genetic humans indigenous to the island terrain of the Southern Hemisphere. She works closely with Cassandra and greatly respects her - though she is dubious about Font. Pragmatic, lateral, clinical.
Cone – early 20s, thin, jaundiced, early 20s, Korean. He is a Temp - someone who does casual, temporary work of any kind. He has developed a slight relationship with Ra. Edgy, cocky, pragmatic.Production sketch - Alien Hive
Acoustics, wave formation, aural detailing, frequency and atmospherics: these things are integral to many plot factors in The Sound of Milk. In place of a traditional film score, The Sound of Milk will feature a dense ambient soundscape.
Scale, space, mass, density, gravity, atmosphere and climate will be conveyed primarily through sound effects such as: massive surroundsound rumbles, multi-channel spatialization, sheets of overpowering noise. I also aim to create the sense of the merged continental shifts of Australasia by sourcing sounds from a range of actual locations. Extensive digital processing will be carried out on actual sounds recorded in Tokyo, Osaka, Hong Kong, Singapore, Melbourne, Hobart and Alice Springs.
The sound design for The Sound of Milk will have direct bearing on the visual production design. A reliance on the soundtrack to convey largeness of scale will cut back on the cost of building huge sets and will provide an alternative to the tyrannical budget-driven aesthetic of pushing sci-fi as a grand mode of cinema.
The exterior action can be divided into two areas. The male domain of Lock-1 will be shot mostly at night in the downtown narrow market streets of a Hong Kong, Singapore and/or Seoul. The female domain of WoSpan and the Periphery Desert separating the two dimensions will be shot at day in the Australian central desert. Both environments have great visual appeal. Both are symbolically appropriate to convey the dry, rustic quality of the warrior women and the seedy, sweaty, dark quality of the unscrupulous men.
The film keeps action as close to the characters’ physical being as possible. The more elaborate issues of production design are to be handled in the drafting and construction of miniature objects which characters hold or connect to their bodies in some way. Women have their SpeedEars for communicating to each other; the StunGlobe guns which are concealed in their breast plates; their VideoDomes for surveying data. Men have their Abdomen Plates; A-Guns for entering the WoSpan dimension; CorpCores inserted into their spines; VoCoders for communicating to one another.Production sketch - The Milking
Computer graphics for The Sound of Milk can be divided into two areas: full-screen environments (eg. the travelling of the TransOrbs through the underground passages of WoSpan Rim), and digitally composited matte shots (eg. the Dimensional wall dividing the two dimensions). Development of large parts of these animated sequences will commence in pre-production (module designs, texture-mapping, movement execution, etc.). Positioning and compositing will be carried into post-production.
The visual look for the film is based on a meld of Edo period Japanese prints and paintings. The style will be more of a flat hyper-designed look than an old world European naturalism which tends to govern many of the more grand sci-fi spectacles. Illusion is not the central concern of The Sound of Milk: this is a film about ideas of how sex and gender will be in the future.
Some preliminary low-level test sketches of these ideas can be seen/heard in the short The Sound of Milk (Prologue) produced with the assistance of the Australian Film Commission's Strand-X fund in 2004.