Film and Video
The DVD of “Voice in Exile,” my dramatic AFI film about a young stutterer, is now available for purchase from Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Voice-Exile-Ben-Bottoms/dp/B00BJC8J9C/
About the Film and the Process of Creating it…
Voice in Exile is a dramatic transformative film journey into the mind and emotions of Alan Woodward, a seventeen year old stutterer. Seeing the world, both imagined and real, through Alan’s eyes, we share the nightmare that haunts him and his family as he struggles to not let his stuttering stop him from living.
My goal as a filmmaker was to capture the inner and outer world of the stutterer through dramatic, symbolic, archetypal, and audiovisual expression. This was a deeply personal journey for me since I have been a stutterer for most of my life.
The process began with the writing of the script. During the scriptwriting phase I delved into my own experiences and emotions as a stutter and tried to translate them into a dramatic story. I also interviewed other stutterers for additional research. The script was further developed while I worked with my cinematographer and production designer to translate the experiential reality of the stutterer into a visceral audiovisual language.
An audiovisual score was created for the film to explore the use of the expressive elements of space, shape, line, light, color, tone, rhythm, movement, orientation, time, contrast/affinity, sign, symbol and archetype in the capturing of the emotional and perceptual states of an individual who stutters. This score was developed from the my own personal story and experiences, along with the stories and experiences of other stutterer’s. The screenplay and storyboards were created concurrently with the visual score, enabling the integration of the visual design throughout the piece. The visual score included divisions for subjective and objective perceptions of waking reality (SPR/OPR); subjective dream states (SDS); and subjective developmental transitions (SDT).
Throughout this process and the rest of preproduction, production, and postproduction, a profound inner battle waged within me. Part of me desired to share these inner experiences with others, while another part of me was terrified of revealing this deeply personal emotional reality.
This personally transformative filmmaking experience also appeared to have a transformative effect on viewers of the film as well. A majority of stutterer’s reported feeling as though the film captured their inner lives. This produced emotional release, a reduction in feelings of isolation, and an increase in self-esteem in numerous cases. There was one reported case of the film averting an individual’s attempt at suicide. Families of stutterer’s who viewed the material reported an increase in understanding and empathy for the family member who stuttered. Non-stutterer’s reported an increase in understanding about stuttering and empathy for people who stutter.
“Voice in Exile” also won numerous awards including the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival and the Silver Medal at the Chicago International Film Festival, and was aired on Cinemax/HBO and A&E Cable Networks.
More Information About “Voice in Exile” is available at voiceinexile.com.
A little over ten years ago I had my first encounter with what might be called “integral filmmaking.” I had been studying Ken Wilber’s Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (1995) and practicing George Leonard and Michael Murphy’s Integral Transformative Practice (ITP) on a daily basis. One day I performed my ITP Kata (a set of integrated body, mind, and spirit exercises) right before running a camera test on my new digital video camcorder. Still being in a post-practice transformative state, I had a profound cinematic experience. As I moved through the house with the camera on, I appeared to be fully aware and conscious of my inner experience, the camera in my hand and the space within which I was moving. I exited the house and was drawn to our koi pond. Once there, I felt drawn into the world of the pond and entered a deep state of pure presence or witnessing. My camera became my eyes, and my body, my awareness and the camera danced with the fish, the gently rippling water, the shimmering sunlight, the caressing wind and the material forms of the pond and its surroundings. I spent hours at the pond, lost in a deep cinematic meditation process. Afterwards I felt a profound sense of gratitude and grace.
When I viewed my footage I was amazed at what I had captured. There before my eyes appeared to be a cinematic example of the four dimensions/perspectives of Wilber’s Integral Theory (Subjective/I Space; Inter-Subjective/We Space; Objective/IT Space; and Inter-Objective/ITS Space): Besides the physical reality of the pond (IT Space) and the environment within and around it (ITS Space), I had footage of the individual koi fish in which I could sense their individual presence (I Space) and footage of the fish in pairs and groups that seemed to reveal a collective and inter-relational presence (WE Space).
I decided to continue my accidental experiment, spending the next few days editing the material while in a post-ITP state. I would basically perform my ITP Kata (Leonard & Murphy, 1995) and then sit down at the computer and edit in that state. It was a wondrous experience, and once I finished, the viewing of the final work sent me into the very state I experienced while shooting it. When I showed it to a few people they all said the same thing — that the video put them into a very relaxed state and gave them the experience of actually being at the koi pond.
Kaplan, M. A. (2002). The Pond [Digital Video]. http://www.markallankaplan.com/cine/pond.htm
Leonard, G. & Murphy, M. (1995). The life we are given: A long-term program for realizing the potential of body, mind, heart, and soul. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.
Wilber, K. (1995). Sex, ecology, spirituality: The spirit of evolution. Boston, MA: Shambhala.
GUN was created as an experiment in the application of cinematic design to capture and represent the inherent power of guns and the effects their mere presence can have on individuals. GUN is a film by Mark Allan Kaplan and was student produced at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. GUN premiered at the Los Angeles Film Exposition in 1980.
The Cafeteria Scene from “Voice in Exile,” a cinematic vision-quest into the mind and heart of a stutterer. Written and Directed by Mark Allan Kaplan
The Classroom Scene from “Voice in Exile,” a cinematic vision-quest into the mind and heart of a stutterer. Written and Directed by Mark Allan Kaplan.
The opening dream sequence of “Voice in Exile,” a cinematic vision-quest into the mind and heart of a stutterer. Written and Directed by Mark Allan Kaplan
The transpersonal movie leader was created as an experiment in the application of cinematic rhythm and image juxtaposition to mediate an abstract conceptualization, representing the notion of transpersonal cinema.
Public domain images were edited and digitally enhanced in Adobe Photoshop, then assembled in Microsoft Movie Maker. Finished product was then converted to Macromedia Flash, Windows Media, and QuickTime file formats.
Various transpersonal practices were employed during the creation process to establish an optimum creative environment.
Featured Clips Include:
Un Chien Andalou (Bunuel, 1929)
A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick, 1971)
Wings of Desire (Wenders, 1987)
2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1969)
A AudioVisual Meditation by Mark Allan Kaplan