Rosa Plus Troy evolved out of a notion to make a movie while my brother and his girlfriend Sarah were in Minneapolis last summer. I worked out a story set in the world of public access television about a man and a woman who were attracted to each other but didn't know how best to present themselves to each other to make the liking reciprocal.
Our summer went by quickly and busily, and we never did shoot that film. They moved back to Los Angeles and I adapted the story so it could be set in L.A. It was still about a couple who were unsure of how to present themselves to the other, but this time I added a third character to oversee that presentation in a kind of demented way. When I got closer to actually going to L.A., I simplified the script a great deal and cut everything out but the short film that the director sought to shoot with the two characters, the man and the woman, Rosa and Troy.
I knew that Dan and Sarah were going to play Rosa and Troy but I didn't know who would play Manfred. I asked Dan if he could ask someone. I arrived in L.A. and Dan took me to his job at the restaurant in Westwood where Sarah and he worked and I explored the UCLA campus and found the botanical gardens there, which immediately made the trip for me after being hours before in February Minnesota. These gardens later made their way into the movie.
At the end of Dan's shift I went back to the restaurant. Dan and Sarah's friend Mike was there, and he was to be Manfred, and I showed him the script and he seemed nonchalant or unimpressed - after all I was just making another toy movie. I talked with him about the character and lo and behold he agreed to do it. We were to do most of the shooting the next day.
We shot all four scenes with Manfred around Dan and Sarah's apartment on my first full day in L.A. Two scenes were shot in their apartment, then we went walking up to Sunset Boulevard to shoot one scene, and shot the fourth one on the roof of their building. I had the basic script and told them a little what I had in mind, but the three actors improvised it all. I just kept the camera running, sometimes jiggling it as I broke out laughing.
The other three scenes, the scenes of Rosa and Troy practicing the scenes on their own, were shot spread out over the next few days. We shot one at the LaBrea tar pits, and the other two around Westwood, one at the UCLA botanical gardens, and one on the roof of a parking garage.
All thru the trip I was picking up other shots too, looking for images and taking them with my small DV camcorder every place I went. I shot nearly ten hours of video in my week in L.A.
I was going to L.A. to make a movie, but I was also ready for a vacation, so I made it simple and hoped that it would be fun for everyone involved. My notion in L.A. was to intercut the scenes of rehearsing and practicing Manfred's script with interviews with people about the ways they present themselves to others, and how the media influences that. I was going to shoot these interviews in various location in L.A., but I chickened out, and was only able to shoot an interview with my friend Mike.
I decided that I would get interviews once I was back in Minneapolis, but when I was back and thinking about it, I decided that that would be too much old hat for me. I wanted to try something a little different.
Trevor had made some storyboards illustrating his scenes from "Quitter's Winter." He also often showed me what he was working on in his big thick-covered sketch books. I asked him if he would make some illustrations for scenes that were never and would never be filmed, and he agreed.
I wrote some little ideas or scenes that might help illuminate the characters and ideas, or might not, and gave them to Trevor with the first couple scenes I had cut on video. He responded by creating faces, or masks, of the characters, and that was excellent.
He came over to my house and I scanned them all in - there was such a wealth of faces, a city of the three characters. I had no idea what to do with them, and figured I needed to sleep on it for a couple weeks but a couple days later I started playing with them, and just started lining them up like little repeating web animations. That's what I did with them for the movie.
For the soundtrack I pulled out some CD's of public domain Gregorian chants. These are recordings that I have loved for years, but I figured I couldn't present them as they were. I started playing around with them in Premiere, cutting them up a little and then doubling them, mixing various parts of the track randomly to create something that wouldn't make any sense if you tried to interpret the Latin, but makes some kind of sound sense at least to me.
This is an experiment. Much of it was written by the three actors I worked with as they acted their parts, and then I edited it into something that tries to say something about images and performance.
My favorite line: Dan as Troy saying: "I'm working on my impulse."
To go back to the Rosa and Troy main page, click here.
To read Manfred's movie, "The Memory of the Mask," click here.
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