Although I had written the basic plot of “Intentions” over the Summer of 2012 (and thought I’d have to wait till next summer to shoot it), the project only came into its own when I saw connections between it and the RCID 813: Woolf, Theory, Space and Place graduate seminar I am taking from Prof. Lisa Sparks this fall. My PhD (in Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design at Clemson University) is a transdisciplinary program where we take grad courses (two years of course work before exams and dissertation) from professors throughout the humanities, and we are often encouraged to make creative works (“Intentions” being one of them) alongside traditional academic papers for publishing in journals and presenting at conferences.
Many of “Intentions’” themes are inspired by Virginia Woolf and theorists who we studied in the course: Foucault, de Certeau, and Bachelard. Among these thinkers I found common connections between the productive aspects of power (knowledge and discipline acting on the mind and body) at work in individuals’ daily lives (e.g., how they identify themselves), the fiction of privileged vantage points, and the individuals’ ability to break out of homogenized narratives and perceptions of space and time.
For this project Woolf provides inspiration formally in the writing of the script and the camera work, as well as thematically in dealing with the individual’s perception of interior and exterior space, being able to directly communicate emotion (being “Greek”), the individual’s ability to self-police their thoughts and therefore control themselves and the world around them, and how these small inner power struggles we attempt to win are related to (or can lead to) bigger more problematic external ones: violence, war, and patriarchal/imperialistic ends.
However, I wanted to take the themes that Woolf deals with and transpose them for a wider audience of today. Therefore, I also drew from more current influences: the films of Woody Allen, Tina Fey’s 30 Rock, Alain Resnais’ film “Public Fears in Private Places,” and Sytske Kok’s short film “The Chinese Wall.” In my opinion these works have continued the Woolfian tradition of revealing internal and external power structures in order to analyze our own personal intentions. In essence: help the individual viewer deal with themselves and the world around them.
Through the use of inner monologue the viewer of “Intentions” gets to see how the motives of the characters are played out, and how these motives often become detached from their original intentions. Through the use of miscommunication it becomes apparent when the characters don’t hear each other correctly, or take something the wrong way. However, I do not want “Intentions” to devolve into a pessimism or nihilism. While the characters continually miscommunicate, and while both can be accused of being narcissistic and shallow at times, both of them continually attempt to escape their faulty pre/ill-conceived judgments of the other person, and both are willing to change in order to find common ground. There will also be times in “Intentions” where miscommunications work to impress the other person, when their original intent was not as charming, and vice versa. So it is important for me to not only show how faulty premises and conclusions are developed over the course of the interaction, but how the characters are able to work through them and arrive in more aware state, detached from their original petty motives.