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09 JUNE 2004

Beatscript for the short film A Little Death

The beatscript (screenplay) for the short film 'A Little Death' was written during late 1993 and early 1994. The project progressed from a earlier screenplay idea involving a motorist being caught in a frozen–moment. The beatscript was written jointly by Simon Perkins and Paul Swadel and was eventually funded as a 16mm film by Creative NZ.The following is an extract from the 10 page beatscript:

black, a click, then fan noise
– a distant airborne squadron hums
a blind flicks up to reveal sky through a lace curtain
lacy shadow–softly plays over JEANNE's torso at the window
she wears a red silk pyjama top
JEANNE turns to see JULES lying on the bed smoking
he's wearing the pj bottoms
he looks up at her
and pinches off the tip of the cigarette with his fingers
burns himself – curses and slams it into a bedside ashtray

Fig.1 Natalie Robertson (1994). Simon Perkins coaches Josephine Davison in preparation for shooting a scene.

Fig.2 Natalie Robertson (1994). Paul Swadel and Peter Bannan prepare for shooting Jo's falling scene.




Simon Perkins
24 FEBRUARY 2004

A disturbing little film called A Little Death

"It's a long time since I've seen a film as genuinely disturbing as A Little Death. The title refers to the phrase 'un petite mort'. French slang for orgasm. This surreal film explores all the ambiguity of that phrase to devastating effect. A couple are making love. Or rather having sex – the hostility between them is palpable. The moment of climax flings them both into another dimension where the emotional savagery of their relationship is played out for real. Luscious colour photography gives way to crisp black and white, as Davison crashes through their bed into an identical room where everything, including her lover, is literally two–dimensional, bleached of life but tilled with an almost impersonal hatred. The tension that previously simmered beneath the surface is unleashed in images of extraordinary violence. Brophy, trapped in the 'wallpaper' of this unnatural room, can only scream as she takes her revenge. This ambitious script is well supported by its technically immaculate execution. It is tightly constructed, beautifully edited and the superb soundtrack is unusually effective, an integral part of the film rattler than (as too often happens) an afterthought. Much of the power of the film has to do with its purely visual logic, it didn't start to make sense to me until I stopped trying to figure out what was going on and just let the images wash over me. This is one of those rare films that can stand repeated viewings (providing you can) and serious philosophical debate, despite the fact its violent take on gender relations is more than a little disturbing. A Little Death is an uncommonly brave and passionate piece of filmmaking that stays in the mind long after it's been seen."

(Pavement magazine, 1995)

Fig.1 Simon Perkins and Paul Swadel (1994). "A Little Death", James Wallace Productions: 16mm, 11 minutes. [A Little Death externalises conflict between characters through the use of physical obstacles and camera perspectives. The film is an evolution of the "Into The Void" project.]
Fig.2 Natalie Robertson (1994). Josephine Davison is confused to find herself on a photocopied floor.



Simon Perkins

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