case study: SPEECHLESS

Title: Speechless

Director: Bruno Centofanti
Writer: Carys Watford
Producers: Anneka Haskins, Nigel Mattison, Carys Watfordison, Carys Watford
Executive Producer: Carys Watford

Production: Arcadian Fields Pictures in association with Another Word

Duration: 5 minutes
Format: Digital 4K
Editing: Avid
Colourgrade: Baselight

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3056786/ 

Directors Statement for Speechless

I was made aware of the project by the producer’s Anneka and Nigel who introduced me to Carys William, the writer and lead actress of the film. Carys had written a beautiful two page screenplay for a silent short film titled ‘Speechless’, which she wanted to shoot in a weeks time, since Ashley, the other lead actor, was leaving the country.

Every film takes not only the audience, but the entire cast and crew on a new journey; one filled with challenges. In this case, Speechless, opened up a whole new level of challenges for me personally: a silent film to be produced in a single week, with no rehearsals and where the crew would meet for the first time on set. The beauty of it all was that it turned into a truly collaborative process.

Speechless: Story

A lovelorn young boy competes for the affections of a shy girl at a sponsored silence party. Overcoming the obstacles of an ex-lover, their speech being prevented and their own insecurities, they are drawn together and find true love.

Speechless: Screenplay

The screenplay was very well written. I loved the innocence of the characters and I knew from that moment it would be an exciting project to work with. I suggested a few small amendments to do with the character dynamics, which Carys worked very well with. Initially I had problems visualizing the mise-en-scène, especially the positioning and movement of the actors on the set, it felt like a very important issue to overcome in this film. There was also no opposing force to balance the dynamic; this led to us creating the role of the Guards. So after a few drafts, we had a great script that still retained the essence of Carys' innocent, beautiful and visual short story but with some additions built into it making it a more affecting film.

Speechless: Aesthetics

When Carys approached me with Speechless, I was in the midst of some intense research on the Nouvelle Vague film movement, viewing all the films I could by Jean-Luc Godard and the work of cinematographer Raoul Coutard. This became a huge influence in the way I directed Speechless.

In the first draft, there was a moment where the Native American character would leave his friends and head towards the Pierrot. For me, that moment was too easy for the character, visually it could be the most challenging but certainly the most interesting moment to play with. So I decided to make a ‘triangle eyes battle’. I used the beautiful bar scene from Godard’s ‘Made in U.S.A’ where Marianne Faithfull sings ‘As Tears Go By’ as a specific reference point for this. That awakened moment of exchanging eyes between the actors was my biggest influence in the way I would direct, shoot and edit Speechless. This scene makes a big part of our film.

Speechless: Sound Design

In terms of the music, I had asked for a brass band. I wanted the music to be played live and sound a bit quirky and funny. In the end, they came with the Violinist, which, if I’m honest, stumped me slightly, but he played some traditional Irish folk music and it all seemed to click. My idea with the brass band was to make them interact with the main characters somehow. So keeping that in mind, when the Native American and the Guard are fighting for the gorgeous Pierrot, I wanted the music and the Violinist to interact within that battle, creating a specific mood for the scene. I wrote a two-note sequence on the piano on set that Pierrot could play with the Violinist creating a visual and musical atmosphere for the battle scene so we could cut easily between both scenes, showing both sides of the story.

Speechless is the result of a great collaborative project that presents us with a colourful and innocent love story.

Written by Bruno Centofanti
London. August, 2012


The Making of Speechless