The Next Move. [Short Film].
Original Screenplay and Film Direction: Emiliano Grassi.
Starring: Chacho De Gregorio, Lorena Díaz, Julieta Grassi.
Photography Direction: Lucía Coates.
Production Design and Art Direction: Lorena Articardi.
Montage: Emiliano Grassi, Lucía Coates.
There’s something about human nature that feels numb, as in careless or not willing. We complain, but still, most of us just sit around as if we were confined. Our regret is weak, our remorse even worse. Boredom has eaten us up. We’re stunned, we’re condescending, we have no will. It’s tedium, existential boredom, inaction, decay, and pain. Change feels unreal, and time, time feels timeless. As if we were stuck.
The universe I designed for The Next Move feels deprived of light, looks moldy. The soil feels dry; textures arid and or infertile. But mostly, it feels like existence lingers. There’s no real connection, not to anything nor anyone; like if it were of a wildflower.
Mold, the concept of being deprived of light and wildflowers were the elements that kept resonating for me. They made me think of the characters’ nature as a little virulent. As if they would just exist, with no intention. As if they would just live out of thin air. And so, the color palette is moldy, as if the frame had gone moldy. The spaces haven’t been lived in and visual noise is the prevalent element in the frame.
Nature is what’s raw. Nature isn’t flawless and our existence is by nature this way. Nature is key and it’s all over the place. But this nature is in survival mode; it’s a life that virulent, that’s moldy, it’s a parasite. It’s life that requires little to no water at all to survive. It’s wildflowers and mold.
The TV set is an old TV set. Analog noise persistently wrecks the image as the show plays on screen. Disorganized and a little dirty, the house doesn’t feel cozy at all. The family lives in-between spaces as if they were just passing by, not staying. Leftovers from a couple of takeaways are piled on the coffee table. Some carton boxes are still sealed from a recent or not-so-recent arrival to this new place, and they outnumber furniture… The placement of objects feels obnoxious and tiring. Visual noise is the visual representation of inaction. It’s unstable and lacks compromise. Noise doesn’t let us see clearly; it numbs our capability for action, making us condescending.
Lighting is always justified. Though, it’s -also- always indirect, through blinds or practical light shades. This is the kind of light that’s no good for reading; there isn’t enough light, the universe is deprived of light.
The Next Move occurs at no specific time, occurs at all times altogether; either way, history repeats itself, doesn’t it? The show playing on the TV set is on Uruguay’s coup d’état, between 1973 and 1985. The family has moved to their beach house, in what looks like an attempt to clear out, start again, find some breathing room. Beach houses in Uruguay are commonly furnished with elements from the 70s and 80s. Attuned, the analog reborn era in which we live right now makes me think of the aesthetics that resemble the 80s as a little futuristic. So, that’s how timeless looks like for this film. It’s a present and future that looks like the 80s. It looks like we’re stuck there, right where we were after the revolution that resulted in having our democracy back. Nothing’s been so strong ever since, and nothing’s felt alive.
The color scheme and palette is, again, a result of how I visualized the concepts behind this story. It’s deprived of light. It’s moldy. It’s green, green as in the color of fresh vegetables and spoiled meat. It’s danger and decay, as well as it’s nature. These are withered greens, yellowish greens. Color grading is also a little green, as in mold covering the whole frame, just taking over.
Besides green, yellow, the contrary color, has a strong presence in the frame. Yellow claims for attention. It is caution and obsession. It is the longest remembered and most despised. It is a warning, but over it all, it is visual energy driven in the direction of a character’s interest. The little girl’s interest, even when she’s not the one making the calls. She’s going in deep and far, naive, innocent, unaware of what she might encounter. She’s also light in the context of the film. She represents hope, she’s life amidst the mustiness. Yellow does turn a little orange sometimes, to intensify toxicity in the atmosphere. Like green, it is quite poisonous but infects whatever has a little more life to it. Nothing but the little girl is pure yellow.
And red! Fire engine red, dry blood red, a brownish red. Existential boredom is infectious and it is intrinsic to human nature, it runs in our blood. Red is visually loud and feels like motion, which synchronizes in perfect irony with the concept of inaction. It is also the color we see first, so it affects the way in which we interpret space, and establishes a cold-blooded distance in relationships.
“La sottise, l’erreur, le péché, la lésine,
Occupent nos esprits et travaillent nos corps,
Et nous alimentons nos aimables remords,
Comme les mendiants nourrissent leur vermine.”.
Au Lecteur, Charles Baudelaire.
2019, San Sebastián Film Festival, SSIFF. San Sebastián, Spain.