Diary from Erotic Man shooting in Paris 2
Photographer: Adam Philp
In half an hour, I am going to meet a film director called Nikolas Feifer at Hotel La Villa Saint-Germain-des-Prés. He is here to interview Adam and me about our working together as director and photographer. It's a good topic. I think I work very differently with my photographer from what is the norm in Danish filmmaking. I like my photographer to work creatively and contribute with ideas about how to narrate a particular scene. A couple of weeks ago, Adam suggested that we film through a glass plate in order to create a double picture when I talk to Dorothie. He's shown me examples of what you can acchieve with this method, and I think it looks intriguing. So I've given green light to that experiment. What I also like about this method is the fact that it feels like reinventing a really old method, something along the lines of Ole John's double exposure by rolling the film back through the camera when shooting the film, Motion Picture.
Now we've been to Dorothie's tiny flat on Montparnasse, shooting the whole conversation in different set-ups using the glass plate. It looks fantastic. It is somewhat touching to be able to have both parties of the conversation in the same reflector picture, and I think it fits perfectly with the fact that this is a conversation taking place after an 11-year-long break between us. It's also a scene which will set the frame for the very closely framed love scene which we recorded back then in Jacmel, Haiti, with Dorothie's face constantly within the frame of the picture.
Dorothie was wonderful today. So sincere, so full of optimism and humour which has always been her survival force through difficult periods of time. I am deeply impressed by her gaining a foothold in Paris. She now has a long-term visa as a political refugee (based on a wild story), and she has the same rights as permanent residents of France: healthcare, benefits etc. She's started a small business, providing beauty culture in her own home, and she struggles to pay the rent. Fortunately she has a boyfriend, a young French musician who doesn't earn a lot of money but who likes her and helps her out in her everyday life.
Today, she talked a lot about our time together, about what she got out of being with me, her true feelings, her gratitude. For me, it was very touching. She described her feelings about our lovemaking being filmed. She felt good about that. She forgot all about the presence of the camera, she just felt good, and also she agreed to do it because she understood that I "wanted to show how much you loved me in a beautiful film about love". I couldn't have wished for a better interpretation of that scene which I have always thought of as being both artisticly and intellectually bold. Due to its authenticity, I believe that this particular scene will be a very important element in the film, that is the defining point of the story where the anthropologist can't keep his distance to his subject and burns up in the act of love.
Dorothie is proud of having been able to take the leap from being poor in Haiti to a modest life in Paris. The only worry she keeps referring to is the fact that she doesn't earn enough money to support her mother and her little sister. Her mother is giving her a hard time, expecting her (as most Haitian families with sons or daughters abroad) to send money back home to cover the expenses of everyday life necessities. Dorothie often mentions how proud she is of never having prostituted herself in order to survive. She has her own plan, her own pride, and a will power which I can only admire. She just manages to pull through. And she still looks great.