From Cinematographer Matthew Irving:
"All I can say is: "Wow". You are incredibly talented. I thought the film worked on every level, and your over-arching vision was extremely clear and perfectly executed. This should be a fantastic calling card for your directing abilities--and for everyone else involved. The performances were nuanced and believable, the cinematography was right on target; the quirky score set the tone flawlessly. And of course, I really dug the 70's vibe.
a favorite response from a father who watched it:
"Wow, that was pretty intense. The first section of the film where we're introduced to Hope really puts you right in her shoes. You really get a sense of how things we take for granted, things we consider simple, like going up the stairs can be monumental at the worst time. Who hasn't been in a desperate position where we're caught, if not in the literal choice itself, left to ponder what we'd do, how far we'd go to feed our kids. What sort of seedy deal would we walk into, knowing that much more is expected of us than is being stated up front, but needing the money so very badly anyway, you're willing to overlook it.
I thought the performance was really solid from Anishika, especially for a first timer. Identifying with the plight of Hope was the linchpin of the story, and she really pulled it off. I also really liked the metaphor of walking away from an old life with the car at the end. The cinematography was great too, from my untrained eye. "
writer, artist, husband, father, martial artist
What a musician said:
"Wow! That was incredible -- everything... from the plot, to the acting, to your direction and cinematography. When you got to the scene where she works at the club, it totally threw me!...Not what I expected on how she made her living -- that was a great surprise.
Man, that was one smooth lady. Taking care of her safety and all the while talking so calmly with her daughter on the phone after she iced dude. Smooth, calculating and reserved, yet with plenty of emotion and fire. I would say that describes you a bit (sans the calculating part, of course!)....
Great job sweetie and I hope it brings you much more work, something that you deserve so much. I noticed Hanz contributed some of the music as well. The art runs in the family...."
World Renowned Percussionist and Composer
and a Poet wrote:
"What sticks to me - lingers from GASP is interconnectedness - relationship of each to each
and heavy dependence -
strip club open/closed for renovation
child depends on mother
mother depends on school
depend on meds to work
ultimate connection is universal - breath - an essential is there
she does have a human right to breathe - but this breath is dependent on ...economic
the body is huge in the film -
and hairspray ..brillant and funny make do - everyday items household in this case tools for work Transformation (hair costume))
also can be used turned against the enemy in classic old school way --- not for torture like but for liberation - hairspray keeps it all in place
oh just like it so much
anyway the film stays with a person and I wanted you to know that"
Fork is an artist, writer, wife and mother
Questions that arise:
A few viewers didn't understand how Eva/Hope could be so sick one moment then perfectly fine the next. Well, that's asthma for you and it wasn't one minute then the next- it was after an epi shot and prednisone taken under the tongue, crushed in OJ.
Are you really disabled if you can take a pill (that hurts you) and most of the symptoms go away? Before Advair and Singulair, prednisone was commonly used for severe asthma. It deteriorates muscle and bone, causes mood swings, appetite and sleep changes, and usually 1 lb of uncomfortable water weight for every mg your on for more than 5 days. There are many more, less common side effects that include kidney damage, diabetes & glaucoma. Since around 2003 we have Singulair and Advair. Fewer side effects and better results have come with a much higher price tag. In the short film, gasp, Advair and Singulair do not exist yet.
The current mind fuck for American Asthmatics without insurance is,
are you disabled because you could not afford the $450 meds this month?
Other questions that you can answer for yourself:
Is that the 1st time Hope/Eva experienced abuse or trauma? Is that the 1st time she learns to disassociate in order to survive? Her illness is traumatic, but was there something more in the childhood? Or was that the 1st sexual assault? Was that sexual assault just the culmination of a series of degrading instances that build and build? From institutional sexism and racism, to the only work she could find that required no set schedule, but, does require an alter ego, that she may or may not find degrading? Does her act of self defense trigger a change in her? Will she go on to be a hit woman? Will she simply take it in stride? Will she have PTSD from the attack? Does she already have PTSD from her illness? Does she just shake it off and continue taking care of her daughter and herself as best she can?
Her top priority is to take care of her daughter and raise her to have a better life than she has had.
a few have commented on the "Hitchcock cameo":
It's there. It's where I had to be to direct that scene/seen.
re: Hope answers the phone and shifts
The moms who saw it laughed and related. A few of the single women who've watched it (so far) and at least one of the men, were taken aback. It was meant to be the one laugh in the film.
Obvious symbolism and signs of counter culture:
the appearance and tearing off of the wig, crushing drugs in a spoon, asking someone to hold her bags while she goes to do whatchagottado, the hula hoop, the 7day candle with 7 orisha's/saints, the painting of Oya, homeopathic meds in front of the mainstream meds in the cupboard. The house loses power, Hope goes out to get the power back on. Yes, it's there for a reason.
the Making of
I had a lot of ideas for how to shoot and create tension/contraction and moments of expansion, how the film should breathe and flow. Thankfully, Tarina is not only incredibly talented, she has the skills and experience to work with the tiniest budget and figure out inexpensive and FAST ways to accomplish certain tones and feelings with the camera and light. We couldn't afford the lipstick cam for the fight, a lens we wanted for the kitchen, a jib (for the middle of the night scene), we couldn't afford many set ups or takes- it was all very fast- 10 pages per day. Also partly for speed, it was shot mostly hand held & some was intentionally shaky. Re: the "foggy lens": The world does look different when you are losing breath for a sustained period of time...it is icy like, if you've ever "seen stars" it's kind of like that...you become despondent, then have to consciously work to not panic as it worsens, so the world looks different. Tarina had the idea of the foggy lens. It's not how things really look when you can't breathe, but, the thought was that it denotes an altered state and struggle. We did takes with and without the lens to have a choice in post. I was talked into keeping those takes by Ryan (editor) and Roger (producer). Everyone has commented positively about the use of Tarina's technique. It's a good idea to listen to talented & skilled people involved.
Due to the short amount of time we had to shoot it, Ryan had to create tension in scenes where perhaps we didn't really give him enough coverage to really accomplish that- but he did it cause he is a genius. period.
Thankfully we had Gaffer Sonoko and her team who are lickity split fast! Between 1st AD Dave Paige and scripty Sherry Gunderman, they had my back regarding what to drop from the shot list and what was necessary to move the story forward. When directing, in the moment, it's easy to want to add this or that~ thank goodness for Sherry in those instances!!!! Thank goodness our M/U and Hair and Wardrobe were super fast as well. We didn't wait on them at all. I would have liked to have had Haruyo Sawada on Day one establishing the look, but, her assistant, Mika Hiyodo stepped up to the plate for us and was as fast as Hari. Belinda doesn't usually do wardrobe, but she did for me as a huge favor and did a great job.
"That apartment is the apartment of a single mom?"
Hanz Dalken, prod design.
Hanz painted the walls so they would not be "horrid for film" white.
He took photos of Anishika and Ifa and framed them, went to Ife's dads house and collected more photos, had art sessions with Ife, who painted and colored as "Imani".
While watching the monitor Roger (producer) said, "Wait, would a single mom have art like that up? and "Isn't this kind of a nice apt for a single mom?" before he was reminded that it was a single moms apt. and the art that was not created by Ife was art that previously existed in a single moms home. lol
My apt. looks a lot bigger and better due to Hanz's prod design and Tarina's lighting and lens use.
Finally, the score~ Myra Moreta brought the film to life. I asked her to make sounds that were quite different from the beautiful music I had heard on her website, from other scores she's created. I had a feeling she would make magic and she did~
So now what?
Well, Roger, the producer has helped gaps onto the Withoutabox website and has held my hand as I submitted to a few fests....The lovely, talented and learned in the ways of film fests, Julie Dash, has offered some advice as to which international film fests to submit to. So far, I'm paying for entry fees out of money earned in production and I'm thinking of starting an indigo page or paypal acct in case anyone wants to help with those costs.