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  • Writer's pictureMelody Cooper


One of the joys of an extended residency is the time I can take letting myself be inspired. I used to listen to a broad range of music a lot more often. And here, I am diving back into favorites like Mozart's exquisite Great Mass in C Minor. I was hitting a block on a section of a script, and did what I often do: clicked play, but this time, to music not usually on my play list. The Kyrie is so damn extraordinary that I had to stop writing to take it in. Last night it was Bach, Tosca, The Pearl Fisher and Vivaldi. Then a Janelle Monae break. Yeah, it was that kind of night. And then tonight I heard my fellow La Napoule artist Michael Harrison's revelatory "just intonation" music. New brain waves were activated. And I think I found a new composer to collaborate with.

My other inspiration today: the ocean. It's never-ending rush, it's aqua color, the gentle swells, the way it roars over the edge of a section of the chateau and settles in swirling pools, how it churns and foams at the outer reaches of a rocky jetty.

And then the sun came out (it's been cloudy or raining since I got here). Transformative. The castle, the sky, the water, the palm trees...everything looks different. Craving the sun, I took a long walk and made some small discoveries that I caught on camera (attached below).

I sometimes wonder at these kind of multi-discipline residencies if film is taken seriously, especially genre work. Experimental, non-linear film has always had a place. But although my take and form of storytelling is different than most of what's out there in the commercial world, I sense genre filmmaking will almost always have a long road to acceptance as Art. When I shared my inspirations in a presentation tonight, I faced glassy eyes (OK, they were also probably tired. It was 10:30 pm). How many have seen The Invitation? The Babadook? Children of Men? Gattaca? Moon? My hook is always Pan's Labyrinth. Because most people have seen it, love it and it illustrates what my work is about. "If you want to understand me as an artist, and where I live and choose to work from, that film with it's magical realism, horror and social political focus (on Fascism) is what epitomizes the kind of work I aspire to."

Guillermo del Toro, the director of Pan's Labyrinth, is poised to win his first Oscar as director (for The Shape of Water), and yet the artistry of what he offers in film is still underrated and dismissed, not because it may have some flaws, but because it's genre. But here's what's true about del Toro, me and most driven genre artists working outside of the "norm," whether that norm is Experimental, Contemporary or Commercial: we will keep working in genre. Because that is our medium...our paint, clay, marble, bronze, piano, cello, canvas and voice.

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