Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm Ready for My Closeup -- Woman's Picture




You make such interesting friends doing this. I “met” (I wonder how much longer we’ll be putting that word in quotes in this wired time?) Brian Pera, who is cowrites the blog “I Smell Therefore I Am,” when he mentioned my blog in a year-end wrap-up. I was a neophyte then and utterly thrilled to be noticed. We began a correspondence, I found out he was a filmmaker and writer working on a project he called “Woman’s Picture,” an ambitious work in progress whose ongoing exploration of fragrance’s essential meaning encompasses, among other things, the primal relationships between mothers and daughters. 
It’s a short flight from Atlanta to Memphis, so when Brian asked me if I wanted to come up for a few days and participate in the shooting of a pivotal sequence between Miriam (Ann Magnuson), the home-shopping cable host who can’t help but get involved with the lives of her callers, and her elderly mother, Rose. In the scene shot yesterday, Miriam is with Rose in a luxury store, asking for assistance from sales associates as she tries to identify an old bottle of perfume that was Rose’s signature scent. The sight of the bottle and smell of the old perfume elicit an angry outburst from Rose, and we -- and Miriam -- realize that Rose is in the early stages of dementia. 
I’m an extra, a customer in the store.
I spent several years working in film production, but it was always behind the camera, as one kind of underling or another. This was the first time I’d ever been in front of one.  The actual scene involved pantomiming a conversation between a sales associate and a customer (me) as background to the emotional scene between Miriam and her mother. As I worked I began to think about the great early films -- the silents -  and how the actors made every gesture count. Remember Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard”? “We had faces then!” Well, yeah. 
Brian also filmed a short sequence with me, talking about my favorite classic perfume Bal a Versailles. I was nervous, but knew the material, so I did ok -- well, I’m told. 
Life does hand one a surprise every now and then, doesn’t it?
I’m honored to be a part of this project. This kind of thing is what perfume is really about. Memory. Fascination. Sadness. Love. Life.
“Woman’s Picture” is about three women who don’t know each other, but are linked through fragrance, with its special power.
Andy Tauer is involved, too. He’s developing three special perfumes, his interpretation of the three characters who will comprise the central triptych -- Miriam, Loretta and Ingrid -- and the fragrances will be so named. These are planned for release over an 18-month period.  
To read more about the project and see a trailer for the upcoming first release, go to Evelyn Avenue, named after a beautiful old street in Memphis.
I’m sitting in my hotel room in early morning, writing this. Soon I’ll have to pack and check out and check in and fly home, to all my responsibilities, and the get-it-done rhythm of daily life. I guess I’d have to call this movie magic, the act of suspending the routine for a little while. Good fragrance is like that, too. It allows us to check out of get-it-done for a few moments, and enter a mysterious realm. I think that “Women’s Picture” will be the first film to look -- really look -- at perfume. 
The photo is Ann Magnuson, as Miriam.

13 comments:

Joseph the Butler said...

What a wonderful experience for you.

And what an idea for a movie. Very interesting.

Carrie Meredith said...

Wow.. I am blown away, this is terribly exciting! How amazing that you got to be a part of it. I'm really looking forward to seeing this when it's released, and to Andy's perfumes that accompany it!

Anya said...

This sounds like a great project. I follow Ann Magnusen on FB, and I don't recall seeing anything about this, but I will look carefully now. Andy is a great choice for the three eponymous perfumes! You must be thrilled. I can't wait to see this movie!

Natasha said...

That is so cool!! I love movies and this sounds like a fascinating project. I'll definitely see the movie and look for you in the store. What are you wearing?

olenska said...

Will definitely look out for this, and for you! (Plus, big Ann Magnuson fan from way back. Her band, Bongwater, provided the soundtrack of my quirky disaffected youth... :D)

ScentScelf said...

I think one of the joys of making it halfway through life...and let's say I'm talking about me, who is more or less halfway through an actuarial life...is coming to terms with the joys of life's circles. Let me be clear: their are innumerable frustrations, most petty or small. But there is something about being in a spot, again, perhaps in a different guise, perhaps the difference simply being the added layers of understanding...

...priceless.

How cool and wonderful that you were able to be part of this project. I am waiting with eager anticipation to see Brian's completed project; I, too, entered "knowing" him through the world of perfume and hence his writing. But even that path of entry makes clear that his filmmaking is/was/will be something I want to pay attention to.

Just like certain bloggers keep me coming back, Ms. Olfacta.

Olfacta said...

Hi Joseph -- it was! And is.

Olfacta said...

Hi Carrie -- I think so too. A film made by someone who really "gets" perfume.

Olfacta said...

Hi Anya -- I think Ann was doing a lot of tweeting from the set. Back in my day, when dinosaurs still walked the earth, cast and crew people brought books and knitting and so on to film sets -- the hurry up and wait thing was there then, too. Now it's gadgets, iphones, ipads, and everyone tapping on them all the time.

Olfacta said...

Hi Natasha -- I am not sure where these sequences will end up -- I don't think they'll be in the original triptych film, which premieres in L.A. at Outfest in July. It's an ongoing project, which will be updated as a sort of series. (I was wearing a yellow linen dress, btw.) I'll certainly keep up with the progress and let readers know, though.

Olfacta said...

Hi Olenska -- me too. I remember Ann as a performance artist in L.A., in the early 80's when I was in the music business, and later starring the in the film "Making Mr. Right," with John Malkovitch. And Bongwater. And and and. A really interesting career!

Olfacta said...

Hi Shelly -- Thank you!

waftbyCarol said...

Can't wait to hear more about it when you come down next week !
And I'm sure you will get the scoop when Andy's frags are released !

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