Monday, August 31, 2009

Sunshine Suicide

I am really glad I didn't see Sunshine Cleaning in a movie theater. It is a comedy of sorts, but I would have laughed at all the wrong places, and I don't like doing that in movies about sensitive subjects.

I knew the movie was about two sisters who work cleaning up biohazards (blood and body fluids) after messy deaths. I didn't know the backstory--their mother's death when they were little was, as one of the sisters says, "a do-it-yourself job."
Watching it alone on DVD (it's a new release), I could make happy noises of recognition: oh look! that bloody mattress looks just like my mother's!
I completed one semester of Mortuary Science school in 1999, and that's a world that knows all about biohazards too, and about the peculiar humor and particular brand of compassion that arises among people who work with them.
The sisters are like me and my sister too. The elder (Amy Adams, left in picture) is the high achiever (that's my sister), and the younger (Emily Blunt) is "interesting."

Amy Adams always impresses me--she has the pert, petite, perkiness of an airhead ingenue; but she's unfailingly, surprisingly real. Watching her on screen, I can imagine what it would feel like to touch the skin of her arm.

Anyway, Sunshine Cleaning was very good. The characters caught the right balance of freaky and funny, the way having your life broken can both damage and warp you and strengthen and stretch you.

I've been thinking about what movie I want to make next.
I've got a three-hour tutorial scheduled with the Apple tutors to clean up some ragged editing ends, and then Orestes is pretty much done.

I don't know if I'm ready to do this, but I'd like to film people talking about suicide. I've already asked one woman whose brother took his own life if she'd be interested, and she said yes. I could talk about my mother's suicide too, though that's not my intention.

I picture it being entirely composed of people talking about their experiences. Just talking.
No expert analysis.
No sociology.
No infomercial crap.

That's the kind of documentaries I like. I think there's a name for them, the kind where the moviemakers don't explain things in well-modulated voice overs. No experts are interviewed and inserted. Of course, moviemakers control the spin by how they edit the footage (no small thing!); but otherwise, the people in front of the camera make the story.

What I discovered the few times I've interviewed people for articles is that all you need to do is get people talking. Then listen, and eventually they will say something--often incidentally, maybe when they're getting their stuff together to leave and you're thinking you've nothing to write about--that cracks the sky open.

I don't know what I'd do with such a film; but perhaps there'd be some use for it. Honestly, I just want to make it.


I avoided movies on this topic for a long time, but this spring I wrote briefly about another good movie about suicide: Love Liza.


For more info on suicide prevention or help if you are struggling:
"The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals."
Outside of the United States, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.


momo said...

I have a book for you that I found quite helpful on this topic.

Fresca said...

On documentary filmmaking? : )

Thanks--we're due for a coffee.

rr said...

What a brilliant idea. You see what happens? I'm away from the internet for (not very long) and miss all this incredible stuff.

Fresca said...

I'm glad you're back, RR!
I like this idea for a documentary type film, but I think I need to let it germinate some more. I don't seem to be quite ready to jump in and DO it.