John Tashiro is graduating as a cinematography major, but for his thesis film A Girl Named Hope he took on directing and editing duties as well. Here, he writes about creating a unique visual style for his dark mockumentary.
My thesis film tells two stories about a young girl named Corrine: one of depression and despair, and one of love and joy. A dark mockumentary, A Girl Named Hope follows Corrine as she reflects on her youth and infancy, growing up in a toxic environment surrounded by drugs, unhealthy relationships, and an absent father. She then imagines an alternate reality — in which she is exposed to love, care, and attention. “A family I wish was mine, the father I wish I had, the life I wish I lived,” she says.
Creating the film was a very cool yet challenging experience! My goal was to marry the raw, gritty narrative of a film like Requiem for a Dream with the pseudo-documentary traits of a movie like La Jetèe. While writing the script, I knew the best way to capture my protagonist’s drama in an authentically grimy fashion, was to shoot on film. With a little help from Kodak, I was able to fulfill my vision and shoot about 3,000 feet of Super 16mm (and some Super 8). I used a number of old school analog practices; from in-camera multiple exposures by hand cranking my Bolex, to scratching and drawing on the negative! This was all done purposely to allow the viewer to truly feel Corrine’s intense psychological state. Additionally, I took 35mm and 6×7 still photographs, which later became an underlying editing technique. Another key aspect was the original sound design, which toyed with voiceover to match the pictures and subtitling.
Possibly the easiest part of the production was the casting process! I was fortunate enough to have an incredibly talented cast who were emotionally invested in their respective roles. It was a breeze working with 9 month old, Love Lolli; 11 year-old, Cailin O’Connell; star lead, Elizabeth Yako and company!
I’m proud of the outcome, and excited to see the film’s reception. I believe the themes of fear, loss and regret transcend the big screen. Hopefully viewers will connect to the message within their own life.