Both these things need to go hand in hand: we use imagery and existing styles to help us decide the story that we want to tell, and then use that story to inform the visual style. Traditionally, we start with a mood board – which basically means gathering a load of images that evoke a similar mood or tone to the one I’m looking for, and putting them together to see what the common themes are:
While it couldn’t be classed amongst the happiest few hours I’ve ever spent browsing Pinterest, the process did help kick start the process of moulding and creating a style for the film, based on the following observations:
The images I feel are most powerful are dramatic blacks and whites, perhaps with a single strong other colour for hi-lights
A lot of the images use large hands towering over bodies – like puppets. This really hi-lights the idea of manipulation and control
Other images look to silence the victim, with hands over mouths
The healing images often use ideas of freedom, lightness, nature. But there’s also a strong sense that the pain and scars from the abuse never leave
A sense of scale is important. The victim is small and powerless compared to the abuser.
There is a lot of confusion and guilt associated with the imagery
One of the good things about attending as many film festivals as we’ve been lucky enough to, is that you start to build up a database of film references in your head. There are two films I can think of that are close to what I want to achieve visually (not tonally); One Minute Puberty by Alexander Gellner and ‘The Wolf’ by Siames. Both use stark black and white for the majority of their palette, and use morphs, transitions and smears to navigate from scene to scene.