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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Call for Help

Hey Marc,

Thanks for sending me your email address. We came out to Sweden about three weeks ago to get away from the distractions of London. It's working, but the film is with us all the time as we are living out in a cottage in a village of 300 residents.

I think I might have told you that Tokyo Cowboys does not have a strong narrative. I was more interested in themes and characters, and I know I made the right decision. But, I am really struggling with the structure that would normally be dictated by the narrative.

I remember you telling me that the first thing to do was to cut the character arcs each on their own time line (it's a multi-character piece). That is how we started off, and we are about half way through with the first characteróthe one of which we shot the most footage.

While Patrick's cutting these arcs, I'm going through the interviews trying to pick out what I call "the cowboy poetry." I strongly believe that poetry is inherent in all language, and I hope that, having been a working poet these last 18 years, I can pull it out. So, I put it on a time-line and cut it up. Then I place that cowboy poetry over visuals of Tokyo. These visuals are not the standard Tokyo fare, but some strange little specific thing we shot

the statues of children with red beanie hats at shrines that evoke the memory of aborted fetuses

a homeless man trying to sweep up cigarette butts in the crowded youth districtóa million feet smack his broom, but he keeps on sweeping

sake barrels with kanji advertising on themóto the western eye, they are quite beautiful and exotic, but to a Japanese eye, they are just as mundane as a text only classified ad in the back of a magazine

I'm interested in making a mosaic...a collage...a multi-layered piece. But it seems really schizophrenic at the moment, and I'm beginning to doubt myself. Is this going to be some stupid experimental documentary that nobody but me will understand? That is not what I want to do. I do want to infuse it with the linguistic and visual poetry that I know is evident in what we shot. But, I want the film to appeal to a wide audience. Specifically, I want it to appeal to three major segments. 1) Those people who have some experience with Japan (either having lived there or some other connection), 2) Japanese people and 3) people who don't have any experience with Japan, but who would be attracted to the themes of freedom, the new frontier, constructing ones own reality, etc.

Having been formerly trained as a postmodernist in graduate school, there is a very strong post-modern element to the film as well. I'm not so interested in objective storytelling. Actually, I think there is no such thing as that. The story is always imprinted by the storyteller and her experience. It is filtered through that experience. I'm taking it a step further by consciously and openly constructing the story...perhaps even blurring some boundaries between fiction and "reality."

I'm also interested in the episodic, the fragmented and the small personal truths espoused by the cowboys. But, this is all theory, and I don't want to get too much talking about that lest I lose site of the film and just do some philosophical essay.

Anyway, I guess I just wanted to describe my headspace at the moment. I wanted to also ask you about the process that you went through. You see, right now, I feel like I can't see the whole. I can only see pieces. And I'm not sure how or if those pieces fit together. It really cuts into my self-confidence. But, if I know that's part of the process, then I can relax a bit.

I hope your projects are going well. If you feel so inclined, I'd like to hear how things are going for you as things are progressing.

Talk to you soon,