What 1 was seeking was a process where scripting, acting and shooting would be organically related, where actors had a sense of owning the lines, where they could evolve a live relationship between the shot and its content. This meant developing a new production methodology.
Video studios offer several advantages over film. The idea was to pre-shoot locations chosen for their potential in stimulating actor responses in improvisation and combine the actors into these locations in the studio using a special effect known as chroma key. 35mm slides, Super-8 film, and video replay are used as backgrounds. Super-imposed on these is the live action by the actors. They are able to view themselves on a video monitor, and to instantly view recordings of the result. This allows a discussion and evolving of the 'script'. The whole thing is like a game and is modeled on sci-fi role playing games such as 'Dungeons and Dragons'.
The story begins, of course, at the beginning. For example, from the index of locations or settings say choose, at random, 'the zoo'. The slides and film are cued up. Two characters are inserted, in front of the monkey cage, one with a camera. They see themselves 'in there'. Next the monitor picture changes to what they are seeing, a monkey scratching its bum. What will they talk about? Monkeys in cages of course. 'I'm just taking pictures, I always take pictures. Hey, hey, over here, look over here, that's it, scratch your bum, that's it, good …'
We see the characters', cut to what the characters see, the actor responds to what he sees, all as an instant on-the-spot response. A few replays and more improvisation and the script unfolds, as it would in life.. This one shot will propel the discussion from caged monkeys to the characters' own restrictions, from the public to the private. Then we choose another setting and throw our character into that. This setting may belong to the character, and give some clue as to who he is. Props may do the same. Does he have a gun, a camera? These say what he is and their use will actively push the 'script' along.
As well as settings and props there is a list of character traits out of which we can compose the characters : 'A character is a collection of traits', or ways of behaving such as being fickle or reliable, co-operative or competitive, good or evil. Two different characters will have some opposing characteristics such as good versus evil. These values, acted out, give the dynamic to the plot, using their props (camera), in the settings (the zoo).
Of course settings were chosen that would polarize strong reactions. They had strong cultural connotations such as a wedding reception, a sexy underwear shop, a meat works, in the hope that characters would take opposing attitudes to these. These are overlaid with voice- overs from Genesis : 'The Lord took a rib from the man ...', creating different juxtapositions with different' meanings.
The end result looks like any other film/video drama, but the process of making it is, hopefully, infused with the Spontaneity and creativity of the cast and crew giving it a warmth and depth often missing in other ways of working. This shows in the finished product.