I’ve hit the ground running as we gear up for our two-day shoot next week. Crew is locked, camera tests on Monday, casting and storyboards will be done by Tuesday, creature effects and production design done by Friday, and then out to the desert to shoot Saturday and Sunday into Monday morning. Somewhere in there I’ll find time to sleep and dream a few dreams.
There’s something exhilarating about shooting a picture without the benefit of time. A lot of our calls are on gut instinct simply because we don’t have the time for analysis. This is filmmaking by doing what simply feels right. It’s a new way for me to work, and I’m enjoying every moment. But then any time I get to create, I’ll enjoy it with all my heart. We’ve got some truly amazing collaborators on this project, artists who are willing to step up and help out because it’s just a really great script and high concept. And we all believe in it, wholeheartedly.
I need to work to music. I can’t really work without it, and I tend to play through a select number of albums that I feel drive me in a certain direction that I want to go. For Lilith I’ve had the following albums on very heavy rotation:
The Cure - Seventeen Seconds
Snowman - The Horse, the Rat and the Swan
Guided by Voices - Bee Thousand (it is an Ohio film, after all)
Ramleh - Too Many Miles
PJ Harvey - Rid of Me
Black Sheep - A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
SunnO)) and Boris - Altar
Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral
Nurse With Wound - Soliloquy for Lilith
As you can tell from the last record, you’ll know where I got my inspiration for the title of the film, and a large part of where the ambiance of the film is originating from. But there was one album in particular which is moving me in a very specific direction:
Bat for Lashes - Two Suns
There was only a handful of albums in my life that transported me to a different place, and Two Suns, initially, didn’t do that for me. I played it a few times a year ago and kind of forgot about it. It was a beautiful record no doubt, but it wasn’t registering images in my head, not like Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold US Back or DJ Shadow’s Entroducing. When I started writing Lilith I knew I wanted to have a distinctive, strong female voice to the film. I hate that in today’s cinema the “strong, empowered woman” on film is actually a scantily dressed male fantasy that kicks ass like a man. Lara Croft is not a symbol of empowerment, she is a teenage boy’s wet dream. But that’s another discussion.
For whatever reason, I thought of Kate Bush. Never been much of a fan of Kate Bush, but her album is named of one of my favorite films, Powell and Pressbburger’s The Red Shoes and she was great on Peter Gabriel’s So album. I gave her a spin, and it was hitting the right notes, but it kept bringing me back to the Bat for Lashes album.
I gave Two Suns another spin and listened to it carefully, and it slowly but surely blew me away. Maybe I needed some context to appreciate the album as I do now, but either way I’m just glad I had the chance to revisit the album. Natasha Khan’s voice has a determination and strength that I love so, it is an authentic voice that is not trying to make a point, it IS the point. The musicality of the album is so dense and layered, and each note exists to propel a compelling narrative forward. This is truly cinematic music.
In particular I was drawn to a specific track, “Siren Song” with it’s chorus:
till the siren come calling, calling
it’s driving me evil, evil.
I was a heartbreaker, I loved you
the same way I do.
i’ve got so much wickedness and sin.
If ever there was a chorus that reflected the central theme of Lilith, this was it. I played this song and the rest of the album over and over again, to the point where Natasha Khan’s gorgeous voice became the voice of the character Lilith in the film.
And the best part of it? In the screenplay, Lilith doesn’t say a word. Not a peep. It’s amazing where these things come from.
Sundance Institute trained, journeyman molecular biologist with bonus producing, writing, editing and directing skills. Amateur film historian, unapologetic liberal Tarkovskite with fierce cooking skills and a penchant for unusual stories. I hope you like my writing and find it useful.