Schlong. A film to remember. Or forget

Missy Jubilee. 049. Schlong

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The background behind the film ‘Schlong’

“I name penises Steve, which is appropriate, as they are sort of shaped like my dad’s face – and he’s a dick.” – Jarod Kintz, Chattering Teeth

Behind this episode is the stinkaroo of pain. Never before have I had to finish a film in such a state of emotional turmoil.

At stages, it seemed like spooning out my own eyeballs with a fork to make it all stop would be an easier option.

When I look back on each completed film, they define something different for me in a present tense. Re-watching each takes me to where I was mentally while making it.

Re-watching Schlong will take me to a very special part of the hell in my head.

Not for its subject, but for the turmoil that surrounded the making of it, and the realisation that sadness is a useful emotion – something that children and adults alike may find comforting to know.

‘pyrophoric’, adjective. Chemistry, capable of igniting spontaneously in air

The production of this film is wrapped in an 8 week period of emotional brutality that I still can’t write about clearly – but these are my first efforts.

I won’t go into the details, because I’m still a bit like the Mayor of Hiroshima – e.g what the fuck was that? – but I will go into the few insights that I dragged out of the Bonfire of the Vanities.

During the making of each film I’m always in a hyper-tensive-anxious state.

This film was unique.

Uniquely bad.

Firstly, I have been working on a film technique that replicates the thoughts in my mind visually when on screen. This sometimes takes up to ten layers of film all piled on top of each other.

Even our 2 high-end super computer workstations that were specially built to handle this pixel pressure almost ground to a halt 25% of the way through the production of the film.

The remaining 75% of the film had to be created in first gear.

A Ferrari driven in first gear is not a great experience.

Then, during the course of the making of the film, Adobe decided to update Premiere Pro (which all the films are edited on), not once, but twice. Updates should in theory make things better. Not these. The machines now crashed every second time they were opened, and we would lose whole chunks of work on a regular basis.

Tension-o-meter reading…..10

I don’t deal well with stress at the best of times. I find it chronically crippling. But this situation was akin to a MacDonalds drive thru for self destruction….’would you like to have some fire with your petrol ma-am?’

However, I was fully aware of the potential for terribleness to happen, and I was keeping a steady course, like a Russian submarine through a stormy Caspian sea. Slow, uncomfortable, not sure where I was going, but pretty sure I would get there. Eventually.

And then…..o lordy lordy.

Emotional torpedo to starboard. Abandon ship. Or submarine. Every emotionally stunted teenager for themselves.

‘Babelism’. Noun. A confusion of ideas or speech

Instead of writing about what happened, I’ll just insert ‘big emotional mental explosion with shit going everyfuckingwhere’. You get the picture. Think crime scene photos.

Four days of my life that I can’t explain with an executive summary. Let’s just say it was epic. Like an earthquake is epic if you fall down a crack in the Earth.

But I will tell you what happened the day after I finished the film.

The psychriatrist told Max to take me to a film. I was told to go.

Shit. This meant that I would have to leave the house, and mix with people. Two of my least favourite things.

I had no say in the selection of the movie. Important point, because I can’t watch something that doesn’t inspire me, challenge me or impress me technically. Therefore, we don’t see many movies given the state of Hollywood.

So on Sunday morning, we drive for an hour into town, we turn up to the 11am session.

That’s 11am in the morning.

Who goes to the cinema at 11am on a Sunday morning?

Kids.

That’s who goes.

The cinema was full of kids. My deductive mind started calculating the awfulness potential of this current situation.

‘Ummm, what film are we seeing Max?’

‘Inside Out’ he answered while looking straight ahead avoiding eye contact like one avoids eye contact with a serial killer.

A little confused I enquired – that’s a Disney kids cartoon film isn’t it?

He didn’t need to answer.

I knew it was.

Holy mother of God. What special part of hell was I about to enter?

(Side note. I hate cartoons. And I hate Disney films. Don’t know why, but I think it might have to do with not ever believing in fairy tales or happy endings)

So let me paint you a picture of the impending explosiveness of the situation.

Me. Emotionally comatose. Dead inside. 100 kids. Loud. Disney film. Uncomfortable chair. Bad seating position. 90 minutes. Sunday morning.

At that moment, I knew what it felt like to be waterboarded. And I didn’t even need water. Or a board. Just an impending Disney film.

One would think nothing good can come from the combination of these factors, and me, in close proximity.

But as the car bumper sticker says ‘Magic can happen’

And I think it did.

I think that film may have changed my life, or at least my understanding of critical parts of it.

‘Inside Out’, at its core, is a tale of female teenage depression wrapped in a Disney cartoon that explores the inner thinking and mental breakdown of one young girl through the narrative mechanism of a memory factory organised around core memories and personality pillars.

This factory is staffed by the emotions (workers) 1. anger. 2 joy. 3. disgust 4. worry 5. sadness. These emotions drive the master control panel of the memory factory and are responsible for how each memory is archived, and with what emotion.

It is a movie about a 12 year old girl ‘Rylie’, the “people” inside her head, and what can happen, narratively speaking, to a important memory if it is poisoned with the wrong emotional association.

When her parents move from bucolic Minnesota to urban San Francisco, Joy and Sadness go missing, leaving the more negative emotions at the controls. The result is a sullen preteen heading toward complete emotional shutdown.

This sounds familiar.

It is impressive conceptual writing for a kids film. What is even more impressive is the construction of a unique narrative vehicle (the memory factory) to explain the descent into depression as each memory is incorrectly archived with its wrong emotion.

Long story short, I broke down completely at a certain point in the film. I became brainlocked with gridlocked fears. I think it could be safely described as ‘losing ones shit’

Up on screen, I saw an abstract visual representation of my brain destroying all of its important personality pillars of family, trust, fun, curiosity and friendship…..and then allowing Anger, Disgust and Sadness to run the control board and store my memories, while Joy was languishing in the Pit of Forgotten Stuff

Sometimes, in the wasteland of life, it’s not that people change – it’s just that the mask falls off.

And so it was. The mask fell off, and there was a realisation.

At one point early in my life, my eyes went from sadness to hardness – a state of permanently self-enforced emotional isolation.

If nothing else, I am an equal opportunity drama queen. I had Daddy issues, and Mommy issues.

I realised that if my parents had ever asked ‘what’s wrong’ in a kind voice, instead of ‘what’s your problem now’ in a constant voice of frustration, yelling and anger, my eyes may have changed from sadness to softness, and twenty years of my life may have been different.

In this moment of realisation, I felt the pain and hurt that I had made sure I never felt again.

Twenty years of ‘fuck you’ condensed into an inappropriate moment in a suburban cinema.

In that micro-second fall through my memories, I had hit some solid ground of understanding. Or a tree. One of those.

I broke my self-awareness, and it hurt like hell. But it felt like good hurt. Hurt that should get out of the body. Hurt that could be cancerous. And even worse, potentially fattening. Hurt that seeped out in tears that wouldn’t stop. Big fat tears of old resentments.

For two days, every time I tried to talk about it, same thing.

“In order for art to imitate life, you first have to have a life.” -Whitney Cummings, co-creator, 2 Broke Girls

I was re-gurgitating the memories of my early life, and for the first time, I saw each of my core memories was wrapped in anger, sadness or disgust. Pixar should be offering post viewing therapists and relaxation rooms with soothing music, or at least whale noises. This is some hard core psychological shit. Thankfully it seemed a little over the head of the children present. Be warned, adults have no such protection. F**k you very much Pixar

In this moment, I realised I am the one who was been blind all my life. For 20 years I hadn’t known what I was doing – new thoughts memorized like old stories of pain, dramatized, to keep them alive, so peace could not ever be experienced.

Or maybe the ugly in me was fighting back. It fights when threatened. Ugly and change don’t get along in my head.

‘There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are’ – Ernst Haas

A camera is an awesome tool. Pure heroin for the poisoned soul to witness its demonic demise.

And so these films took the place of my parents caring. They became the only person I could talk to about what was in my head for so many years.

Why?

Because my life was a three stepper back then. Two back. One forward. And my parents weren’t interested in the two steps backward. They were too busy working, socialising, going to their community clubs, having affairs. No time for all this dumb childhood drama.

So from the age of 10 to 16, I was left alone every day after school from 3.30pm until when they returned at 9pm.

It was the Devils time, and what more could a writer with an imagination and a hankering for revenge ask for. 13104 hours of isolation to plan how I would never need their approval ever again.

If there was no-one who I could make proud of me, I could ensure all their expectations of me were fulfilled and make damn sure they were un-proud of me.

The weaponisation of my hurt had begun.

Pavlov knew this game was rigged long ago.

‘tenebrific’ [adjective]: producing darkness

What kind of mood is flatness?

Writing and thinking about regression to the mean of what has been, but not been seen is a perfect recipe for flatness.

When I started writing this, I had no idea of where it would take me, or if I could explain what I had experienced.

I still don’t.

But I hope to have it figured out for an upcoming episode called ‘Chill. And just count to Fuck’ It is important to me that I do, because in those 4 days last week, I experienced the exact same complete shutdown as I first did when I was 14.

I need to know why. Because the closer I get, the more violent this becomes.

At times, this writing is draining because there is an emotional investment in the past – a past which I tried hard to forget.

They are not always happy go lucky these memories of mine. It is one thing to get in touch with emotions, but trying to dissect these little fuckers while they stab you in the neck is a juggling act not every clown can pull off.

These films make statements about core memories to secure points of reference in my timeline like knots in string – allowing me to come back and fiddle around with the knot like a good girl scout.

The need for attention & acknowledgement was a form of warm comfortable addiction and I inherited it negatively – something to bite on in my down moments behind my confusion and resentment. Always providing myself new anger to chew, and choke, on.

But I hazard a guess that everything I have ever experienced, performed, considered doing or thought about will eventually lead me back to my primal fear.

Abandonment.

Every film gets me one step closer to accepting how and why I have processed my fears in such an emotionally negative way. The only hints in this current film of what was going down drama-wise during its production are:

1. the opening voice sample – ‘I just don’t get it, you’re so ugly in person, what apps do you use?’

2. the poem ‘Slow Acid’ at the end of the film

3. the names of the 3 remixes

In this film, I write a cloudy ransom message in a film bottle
I set it out simply
Cutting the letters from discarded hopes of a normal life
To make sure nobody would knows
The way I really feel
Or don’t

Next demon

Please stand up.

Your time has come.

What is your name?

Schlong.

Oh yes Mr Schlong, in the whole scheme of things, you’re a big one aren’t you

Yours, while feeling baked mentally and thinking is shit is trippy yo.

Yo indeed.

Missy

p.s. these are the words to the song that I played over and over during the later stages of making this film…..this is writing I admire. This writing makes me hurt. And that’s good. For a long time I didn’t.

Poetry is no place for a heart that’s a whore
I’m young & I’m strong
But I feel old & tired

I’ve been poked & stoked
It’s all smoke, there’s no more fire

You say my time here has been some sort of joke

That I’ve been messing around
Some sort of incubating period
For when I really come around

I’m cracking up
And you have no idea

No idea how it feels to be on your own
In your own home
with the fucking phone
And the mother of gloom
In your bedroom
Standing over your head
With her hand in your head

I will not pretend
I will not put on a smile
I will not say I’m all right for you
When all I wanted was to be good
To do everything in truth

I wish I was born a man
So I could learn how to stand up for myself

You bloody mother fucking asshole

You bloody mother fucking asshole

I will not pretend
I will not put on a smile
I will not say I’m all right for you

For you, whoever you are

-Martha Wainwright, ‘You Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole’ 2005

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