Outstretched Arms and Unbroken Branches
a poem set in motion
a short experimental film by Hayley Heninger and Kathi Barnhill
Our process unfolded in an almost magical way.
We stumbled upon potential props that were seemingly random as well as ideal. A bathtub full of dirt. Deer Antlers. A stone house with no roof and moss growing on its walls, with open passages where windows and doors would have been placed. We had imaged the stone house. We needed it. Tried to think of replacements, alternatives for such a place, because we had no ideas of where to find one. And then a friend just happened to have one up the road from his house. We felt like we were walking into a place birthed in our imaginations.
And the glass house, too. That one stumped us. We started off thinking in literal terms, and that took us rapidly down the road of the ridiculous. A large sheet of plexi-glass. Formal gowns. Neil in a suit. At best, it would have read as overdone and dramatic, at worst, like us in the yard with a piece of plexi-glass and a bad idea.
And on the last day of shooting, we found our glass house. My sliding glass door. Right there the whole time. With the light on that particular day, the feeling we’d been looking for emerged. Within a few minutes, we had the shots that form the backbone of our little film.
Hayley and I naturally fell into a fluid shooting rhythm, using little verbal direction. We’d pick a location together, I’d get the camera ready and she would move within the frame. Again and I again, as I would have the thought of wanting her to move in a certain way, she would, without any words exchanged. Like moments of merged creative impulse. Such a pleasure!
Neil’s debut on camera was awesome. He relaxed and did exactly as he was asked, avoiding the trap of trying too hard. He was willing to lie there and just look at the camera. Straight at it without shying away.
And Jon Stickley understanding our bizarre, nearly inarticulate descriptions of our musical vision, and awing us with his creation, note after note.
Getting to create together with the whole team, simply for the pleasure of creating something, and in effort to capture a pivotal moment in moving imagery and sound, was such fun. Thank you to everybody involved.
We have now submitted to five festivals, and the next phase begins! We can’t show the whole piece now due to festival regulations, but we hope you will enjoy the trailer. More news to come soon!