In 2015, I created and produced my transmedia opera MelanchoLalaland™, with support from the Knight Foundation, the State of Florida Department of State (Bureau of Cultural Affairs), the City of Miami Community Grants Program, the Bailyn Foundation, and the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters SCAF Fellowships and Creative Research Grants Programs.
I am now seeking funding toward the development and completion of the principal photography of the film-intermezzo, Casual (Sex) Friday™ (or CSF), the aesthetic centerpiece of the entire opera. This work, based on a short story by Thea Zimmer, is the only current operatic treatment of an office shooting that I know. CSF tells the story of Carol Burkell, a frantic survivor of an office shooting, who has hidden in a supply closet. Its setting is a dysfunctional (but not implausible) future, with memes borrowed from and elaborating on contemporary corporate culture. The story is told in a series of vignettes and flashbacks of likely suspects and unfortunate victims, with interruptions and interjections by Carol. Haunted by memories and inner voices, she tries to piece together the killer’s identity.
From the funding for the 2015 project, I was able to engage Metropolitan Opera mezzo (and former student!) Katharine Goeldner to sing and record the part of Carol, which I then orchestrated and incorporated into the 4 ½ minute ‘preview of coming attractions,’ film that appeared between the acts of the opera.
The complete film-intermezzo will have a total running time of 22 minutes, matching the soundtrack for soprano and orchestra, which is already completed and produced. This proposal and budget maps out the main shooting of the principal photography for the film.
Included in the 9-person shoot are 4 actors, 2 videographers, 1 production assistant, 1 special effects specialist, and the director. Since the topic is an office shooting, considerable care has been taken to design shots that look convincing but pose no safety hazards or damage to property.
My budget allows for two post-production personnel, that of 3D artist/animator, and compositor/post specialist. I plan to invite the animator and compositor who worked with me on the video elements of the opera (one of whom is an FAU alumnus) to again add their professional polish in combining live and animated elements once the shooting is complete. I plan to devote much of my time during my sabbatical this fall to editing and post-production of the film.
This work, like many transmedia projects, is an important work in my research vector because there are multiple purposes for it. It not only functions in its original role as a film-intermezzo between the two acts of my opera, but it could be re-purposed (with the soundtrack turned off) as film to accompany a live performance of the score with soprano and orchestra as an extended concert aria with film. Finally, it will exist on its own as a film and chart its own path through the various film festivals that are receptive to extended music videos, as a visual response to text and score.
Casual (Sex) Friday™ is an important contribution to digital and performative culture because it addresses multiple contemporary social concerns and issues beyond gun violence. Its dark dystopian framework is laced with humor, and there is a sense of inevitability to its setting, which seems like it could emerge from variations of current events. Finally, it represents a personal fusion of my own visual and musical setting of a multilayered narrative text that interrogates personal identity and agency amid disturbing events and perilous times.