In the fall of 2011, I was involved with a very unique, collaborative feature film. Twelve directors, twelve different poems from a collection, twelve short films, all coming together to make a feature, TAR.
The writer/directors from NYU Grad Film, guided by James Franco, adapted the poems from a wonderful collection called Tar, by C. K. Williams. I chose to combine two poems, “The Color of Time” and “Waking Jed“, to make my short film.
In “The Color of Time“, as C.K. Williams observes his son Jed, in the special moments just before waking, he remembers a phase of his childhood dominated by the sounds of the dark, a strange woman across the courtyard and his stern father.
In November 2011, we were in Detroit, shooting. As I said when I posted a few pictures of the city, it was an intense, stressful, magical and unforgettable experience. I had the pleasure of directing James (as C. K. Williams) and Jessica Chastain (CK’s mother). For the role of young CK, I was lucky to find and work with the wonderful and talented Zachary Unger.
And this November, TAR, starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Jessica Chastain, Henry Hopper, Zach Braff and Bruce Campbell will premiere in competition in the Cinema XXI programme at the Rome Film Festival.
TAR is based on Pulitzer prize-winning poet C.K. Williams’ collection of the same name. Written and directed by 12 filmmakers, the film blends together adaptations of numerous poems, creating a poetic road trip through C.K. William’s life. Waltzing through time over several decades, C.K. Williams goes through a certain sense of rejuvenation as well as feelings of loss, as he experiences a series of significant past and present encounters. His constant wonder at and desire to grasp his memories makes him struggle to be fully present with his wife, but he then realizes through his journey, that he is inexplicably bound to both.
“Maybe the right words were there all along. Complicity. Wonder.”
Our project began as a collaborative experiment rooted in the idea that the language and ambitions of poetry provide a fertile source from which to create a unique cinematic experience.
Our source was Tar, C.K. Williams’s 1983 poetry collection that is a narrative of a remembered life – personal stories of brief as well as long-lasting encounters with people, places and situations. It is an extraordinary poetic achievement.
TAR, the film, consists of contributions from 12 individual directors developed in a Graduate Film class at Tisch lead by James Franco, and comes from a shared belief that a truly collaborative experiment could yield something more powerful than we each could have achieved by ourselves.
Central to the collaborative nature of the film were the actor’s improvisations, allowing little accidents to happen, letting the actors’ inventions shape the moments, and in this way helping us explore and celebrate the wonders of one man’s recollections, seen through a glass cinematically.
It is our hope, that TAR will meet an audience open to watching and experiencing this kind of improvisational and experiential cinematic jam- session.
For more details on The Color of Time, view the film page.