Ballroom location for Survival of the Fittest

Production Commentary

HOW LOCATION HELPED FIND FORM

Once Caryn and I decided the Georgetown Ballroom was to be the location for shooting “Survival of the Fittest,” its layout became the organizing structure for composing our shots.  The Ballrooom’s spacious party floor with its raised and red curtained platform at one end allowed for blocking the action in the room’s two separate but connected spaces.  This reflects a theme of “Survival,” that this world and the hereafter are separate but connected.

The platform of the stage became the otherworldly domain of Daughter’s emotional interior manifest as the character of Double Helix.  Composed of the two essential and contributing strands of Daughter’s being, Op-Ed and Missed Stitch twirl in the background of Daughter’s frame, watching and commenting on the worldly drama staged on the main floor.  As in the Ballroom, as in the here and the hereafter, Double Helix and Daughter are separate but always connected.

On the main floor Daughter’s anguished argument with Father over Mother’s care plays out in a food court, a space very much of this world.  And on the main floor too, plays the fabric store scene of Daughter’s loss of faith in her being as she receives it from Father’s perception of her.  And of Mother’s courageous act of support for the new being of motherhood Daughter is becoming.  This maternal act of mending is echoed in Missed Stitch’s sewing up the wounded Op-Ed on the cutting table that hovers between the otherworldly stage domain of Double Helix and the entirely real fabric store world of Mother and Daughter.

Double Helix watches over the deathbed.

Double Helix watches over the deathbed.

This third chapter opens and closes in the deathroom of Mother – in my experience a fluid setting governed by spirits.  I have taken narrative permission from this fluidity in writing this chapter.  In the opening scene Double Helix shares the stage with Mother’s deathbed while Daughter and Father stand at stage edge on the main floor.  When the gurney is wheeled out at the end it is only mother’s body that is taken across the main floor and out of frame.  This leave-taking is an action very much in the realm of this world.   The question remains open where Mother’s spirit might be…perhaps joining the twirl on the red curtained stage of Double Helix.

Header photo is of the AoW crew filming the food court scene of Survival of the Fittest.  Photo by Micah Vacatio.