View this sly short film starring Hayleigh Power here! The film follows a suspiciously young widow as she discovers that grief makes the perfect fashion statement. Find out more about this evocative satire against modern consumerism and credit culture below…
The piece has been filmed in 1080p High Definition in some sumptuous locations – a corsets & wedding dresses shop, vintage clothing store and silks store. It’s all shot from the widow’s point of view from behind her veil, as she floats dreamily through clothes stores and caresses the sensuous fabrics there. I think it looks and feels gorgeous – I’m very pleased with how it’s turned out.
Below are details from my submissions of the film on Withoutabox – synopses, my Director Statement, Production Notes on its concept and execution and on the hidden benefits of good location scouting.
If you’d like me to deliver projects like this for you, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
A suspiciously young widow discovers that grief makes the perfect fashion statement. A sensuous and darkly satiric swipe at modern materialism, all seen and narrated from the widow’s point of view from behind the veil. Written, produced and directed by Ian Kennedy and starring Hayleigh Power.
FORMS:Experimental, Narrative Fiction, Short
GENRES:Comedy, Drama, Independent, Satire, Dramedy, Social Issue, Mystery
Medium Synopsis and Long Synopsis
I’m holding these back from this article for now, I think there’s enough here to whet the appetite for the time being!
Wherever possible, I try to find inventive devices within my works that account for the artifices that brought them about. To put viewers into the frame of mind of its unspeakable protagonist, THE MOURNING AFTER takes the character’s own point of view – constantly reminding us of this by the veil through which she sees the world, and by evoking the sensuous relationship she holds towards clothes and material things by gliding sensuously with her as she touches and caresses them. These devices create the framing that enables me to use the sort of immersive narration that would normally be a sign of lazy or awkward screenwriting, and for the protagonist to use that device to dreamily reveal things that she would never dare to speak out loud.
The intended result is films and pieces that feel distinctive and evocative, and which constantly make us question the nature of the medium through which we are consuming the story, and the deceptions or personal perspectives which are shaping what we get to see, hear and feel while we’re in its world. My interactive web series CITIZENS: EXCISION is, apparently, filmed and edited by the characters themselves, which raises questions over how trustworthy that content – and the people in it – can be, and those questions themselves are the basis of the interactive features – viewers literally choose which area of the video screens they are watching at any time by moving their thumb, cursor or mouse, and they unlock hidden content by correctly interpreting the follow-up questions about the videos they’ve just watched.
If you’re not intending to be interesting, why bother making things at all? I’d much rather my films be interesting than perfect.
Writing, concept and execution
The origins of this piece arose in a Creative Writing session during my English Studies degree, in which I was challenged to explore one idea through another which might at first seem incongruous. Among the choices, I saw ‘grief’ and ‘shopping’, and immediately made a connection: the clothes shopping of a new widow determined to look the part. The short prose piece I wrote then and there still remains the basis for the film’s narration and character.
Some years back, I noticed the potential to turn the piece into a short film which might look and feel quite sensuous and evocative – if we took the widow’s perspective and lived out her shopping experience in her voice from there. In fact, the lack of any need to use sound recorded at the same time as the video shots meant that it would only need myself as crew, and one actress – extremely practical, without compromising on quality.
Other than script work, the piece only took a few hours’ preparation and a morning to film. The voiceovers were added in a sheltered part of one of the locations that afternoon and the edit took a weekend to put together, including all of the music, which transformed the mood of the piece still further. All in all it came together as well as I might have hoped. One interior shot is a touch murkier than I might have liked but from behind the veil I felt it was still perfectly useable.
The key to illustrating the narration was to only place evocative objects, clothes and movements in shot; I originally had in mind a wholly black theme, with the widow constantly drawn to fabrics in that colour. But while I was scouting locations, I saw the potential to create more of a sense of narrative and subtext.
The three locations used in the film are all credited prominently at the end. I didn’t need to disrupt their business activity very much at all. When I walked into The Fancy Silk Store to ask if I could film there, by total coincidence the owners who run the store had been having a conversation about getting a new website done, and asked me if that was something I could help with. I quoted for this and a series of promotional videos I could add to the package, and – from nothing – left with a substantial commission from them for it all.
The Fancy Silk Store was full of vivid fabrics, while Vintage Clothing had a whole row of decadent dark furs for my Widow to stroke. But the real boon for the film was discovering the Couture Company, who brilliantly combine hand-made lingerie and corsetry with beautiful wedding dresses, and who only open by appointment. Which gave me the perfect transitions to bring my widow from grief to bright plans for a new marriage. Stepping out into the bright space outside with statues hanging above completed the story deliciously.