Words In My Mouth / Voices In My Head is a short based on working with a solo actor in an improvized and immediate way. A script is developed by Philip Brophy specifically for an actor - placing 'words in their mouth' - and then shooting the actor improvizing the script in a chosen location. All the dialogue is then post-dubbed - the 'voices in their head'. The script, shoot and edit is intended to be done within a short time frame. No. 1 (Anna) was done in one week. The intention was to produce more shorts in the series - this may or may not happen yet.
The result is the creation of a series of disconnected thoughts emanating from the performer. With Anna, most of the text is recorded as voice-over, as if these are the thoughts in Anna's (the actress) head. Philip and actor Anna Anderson moved around the city, shooting Anna in different situations half-thinking these thoughts and sometimes half-speaking them to herself, like she's in her own world. The shooting was done in public spaces, so that it's like she's losing herself in the crowd, but comfortable about it as she works things through in her head.
Instead of doing the music himself, Philip commissioned another composer -Leigh Ryan (aka Plutonic Lab) - to provide passages of music based on the mood shifts in the script. Philip then edited the video and mixed both voice and music into 5.1, foregrounding spatial shifts to convey the sense of being inside the character's head.
Script, direction, camera, editing & 5.1 mix - Philip Brophy
Anna - Anna Anderson
Music - Leigh Ryan
DESCORE - Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne
The origins for the Words In My Mouth / Voices In My Head project came from a number of thoughts Philip Brophy had which fortuitously coalesced for this project. The first thought was an entirely practical one: to find a more immediate and spontaneous way to work with an actor and learn something about directing from that experience. Directors rarely get to practice their craft - ie. direct actors. This is in marked contrast to most other artistic endeavours, from painters to musicians. The film director of the modern ilk tends to be someone always planning things in his or head (imagined as visions and voices), but proportionately getting little chance to try things out in the medium to develop a cinematic voice as readily as voices can be developed in other media.
The second thought revolved around the dilemma Philip often experienced when having to write a fictional scene that is meant to have some dramatic plausibility. Yet Philip recently had written a number of critical pieces for publication which were a merger of offbeat fictional voices with clear conceptual ideas straight out of Philip's head. So Philip decided to try the strategy of not writing what he thought another person might say - which is something he has always found difficult - but instead, write something with a specific actor in mind, and in a sense, put his words in their mouth. The envisaged effect would be that the actor would then bring the words to life in a way that could make them appear their own words while still voicing emotional/psychological/dramatic ideas that Philip felt comfortable writing.
The third thought relates to an area Philip has written on of late in connection to the role of voice in the cinema: the relations between schizophrenia, the urban din, and the multiplicity of inner voices that define many people's emotional disequilibrium. Avoiding the glorification of wackos talking to themselves on the street, Philip has been interested in the 'silent wacko' that rages in more people that we think. As articulated in his articles on voice in the cinema, the psychoacoustic effects of the human voice are equally integral to rules of drama in cinema and norms of behaviour in public. Philip's staging ideas for Words in my Mouth / Voices in my Head are an attempt to explore and express these ideas through a series of psychological portraits of people simply thinking too much at the one time.
So there’s this girl. This is the girl. So there.
I’d wonder what the fuck you’re looking at – but I’m too busy looking right through you. I can look right through anybody. I do it to myself every morning and every night. My mirror is a wall. I’m a fortress. I brush my teeth and there I am again – but not for me to see. I’m not there. I’m not here. So this girl can take you looking at her ‘cause she’s passed through you already. I’m two blocks gone. So what the fuck are you looking at?
I once had a cat. It wasn’t mine. Came in through the bathroom window one night. Stayed on and off like a jilted boyfriend. Sometimes I confused the cat with some of my boyfriends. This cat left me lots of fur and lots of responsibility – more than I felt for any boyfriend, now that I think of it. You can yell at guys to clean up their own shit. I could never really yell at this cat. (…) I had a dream once where I collected all this cat’s fur. Made a gorgeous coat out of it. It was the most beautiful coat I’ve ever seen. (…) The cat left ages ago. I still haven’t found a coat as beautiful as that one in my dream.
No one ever spoke French to me. People might look French. They might be just how you want them to be. How you dream they might be. You want them to be French. Face it, girl: they aren’t French. Wake up: they won’t speak French ever. Go to France if you’re that desperate. Girl, have seen French men lately?
My boyfriend is applying for a new job. I’m sick of applying for new jobs. I hate the thought that all I am is a fucking resume. (…) But that is all I am. (…) I hope he doesn’t get his stinking job.
Why did I just give that girl two dollars? I don’t know. I’m either speeding up her end or simply helping her junkie boyfriend kill himself quicker. I said I wouldn’t do it when I saw her coming. Am I really that weak? Don’t tell me I see myself in her ‘cause that’s bullshit. (…) That’s absolute bullshit.
A friend says romance can come and go as far as she’s concerned. For me, its either coming or gone. I don’t have any control over it. But I’m not as bad as her. She goes for lovers who can’t control their cocks – and they all go for girls who can’t control their romance. She thinks she’s had a succession of failures. I think every loser she’s found is perfect for her. They could work it out together. She won’t listen to me ‘cause I’m not hungry for romance. I guess I’m either full of it or allergic to it.
Am I covered in thorns? Spikes? Thistles? Have I ever bitten you? Is your flesh under my nails? Do I have your name etched in bullets? So back off. Just back off.
She looks really good in those pants.
This might be a hate day. I hate to tell you so, but at least I’m being straight-up. Don’t bring me down about it either. Don’t try and be positive with me. Forget any softening. I’m hardened by hatred. I know it and I know it well. I’m not dumb about it. My resentment is clear like fresh air. Just let me shake it out. It’s winter so it isn’t going to hurt anyone. It’s not like I’d really do any damage to you, and you know it. My hatred likes the cold air. We’re just going for a walk. You don’t have to come along.
I thought that was my sister over there. She’s been dead for over two years now. I wish I could stop seeing her.
So he ended up getting that job he really wanted. But he said that about the last three jobs. Jesus – what’s this one? Computers? Networks? Photo-copiers? Telephones? He just likes to cable himself up and press too many buttons. Why doesn’t he work at a tannery for a change? Or an orchard? Or learn to fly a fucking plane? He hates people when he has to deal with them, but says he’s a ‘people-person’. That means he likes whining to people about how he hates other people.
This might be a love day. I hate to tell you just as much. I might be looking for love. Or I might simply be ready to find it. If it hits me on the back on the head I won’t complain. Maybe it’ll be you. Hey – it could be anybody.
I just thought I felt your arms around me. For no particular reason. It’s like you hugged me in public, in front of all these people, but you’re invisible. Sometimes you are invisible. Sometimes ‘cause I don’t see you; sometimes ‘cause I can’t stand the sight of you. Sometimes I hate it when you put your arms around me. But now that you’re not here, it feels good. Maybe it always felt good.