What compelled me to write “Camera Obscura” is the dilemma most people face choosing between reality and illusion. The constant struggle between these two worlds pushes the human mind and spirit to search for an answer. On that path, the truth becomes multi-facial and life becomes multi-layered, and every answer comes with a package of questions. “Camera Obscura” is an attempt to marry reality with fantasy, to place the heart inside the mind, and to reflect the bizarre in reasonable. In short, to create a reality which will become a metaphor for the human struggle between what we think and what we feel.
Anatomically, our heart and brain are apart. There are good twelve inches in between. While we can rely on our brain for logic, our emotions don’t have reasoning, neither rational. Emotions are mysterious and illusive and often times, we accept and live by them turning our lives into a “game”. “Camera Obscura” is about that “game” of self exploration where there are no winners or losers and where human emotions reflect on raw nature itself: survival, deception, power, and love.
While nature is visceral and organized, love is the chaotic powerhouse of our emotional condition. All this turns from philosophy to real life when two people meet. JIMMY loves MARIA, as a tree loves its leaves or a wild river its waves. It’s an organic, natural, almost biological love. There are no philosophical speeches between them. It’s a body language and an unspoken bond. They amuse, inspire, terrify, and complete each other. They fight and make love. It’s a state of mind turned into a state of heart.
As a photographer, JIMMY’S eyes, heart, and mind are tuned to the pulsation of life around him. His perception of the world is through his camera and his pictures are like frozen heartbeats of life. Confronted with crime, JIMMY’S natural instinct is to reject death. He beautifies the crime scenes and in his photographs victims don’t look dead anymore. With no sense of his human limitations, he sets himself on a mission to give life back to the victims. He therefore turns himself and his camera into a “savior” and JIMMY is further pulled into a fantasy world.
Los Angeles is also a critical element of the story. The multiracial and multicultural society, the uneven social structure, the concrete jungle of sky scrapers and the infinite valley of single story homes. Billboards, palm trees, and eternal sun. Most people immune their minds from the constant bombardment of violent images from television, radio and newspapers. But JIMMY can not ignore this Babylonian city life and stands up and says no. His fight is a personal fight and Los Angeles is the setting and nest where the boundaries of reality and illusion cross.
Another important element is the camera. It will be single coverage, almost like John Ford. The camera moves, stops, and feels according to the scenes and is in visual dialogue with the characters’ emotions. Like in a symphonic orchestra where the solo instrument creates a life with other instruments: fighting, loving, agreeing, disagreeing, and eventually becoming an organic point and counterpoint.
“Camera Obscura” will be a realistic, moving, and down to earth film with true human emotions and unforgettable images. I believe there is a triangle between our eyes, heart and mind. What we see affects how we feel and how we feel affects how we think. I would like our audience to ponder, like JIMMY, whether to accept their own realities or create a fantasy world where they can have control. The right answer is unknown and different for each and every one of us. But what is known is that this is a primordial human dilemma and a personal catharsis that most of us can relate to.