My heart is full today. We just wrapped Shadowlands episode 2 Pygmalion Revisited. You’ve likely heard athletes, actors or artists talk about being ‘in the zone’ and this whole episode has felt that way. Perhaps through a mix of focused preparation and a little bit of luck I felt like every day of this shoot my team was in the zone – supporting each other, rooting for each other and contributing creatively to make the best show we could.
Shadowlands is a book of short stories that I wrote several years back. For the TV miniseries I selected stories for the initial three episodes – The Hiker, Pygmalion Revisited and Narcissus. Definitely three very disparate stories but they thematically interweave and all touch on the theme of love. Negotiating relationships, mourning the loss of a star-crossed love and never having experienced it.
We filmed episode 2 Pygmalion Revisited first which is the story of an artist who has lost the love of his life and is compelled to paint his lover in an attempt to find communion with him again. The story was inspired by the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea in which Pygmalion is a sculpture who creates a statue so beautiful, so life like that he falls in love with it. The goddess Athena takes pity on him and brings the statue, Galatea to life.
My take on the classic myth isn’t quite as succinct nor does it result in a happily ever after. In fact it may be the most tragic piece I’ve written to this point. Since the first drafts of the short story and then the script I’ve always felt compelled to play the painter. His words, his love, his losses felt intrinsically mine. Though I wanted to act again, I’ve also been anxious about it. It’s been a while since I’ve been in front of the camera and this role has so many challenges. For instance, the painter is in every scene. Half of those scenes are just him with no other actors. How would I bring to life a whole world; a whole life alone on screen?
The answer for me in many ways was in the casting of Marc Devigne as Xavier, the painter’s lover. Over the course of a month and a half prior to filming we spent time together in rehearsal or discussion and built our collegial acquaintance into a friendship. Marc is so special. He is a truly gifted singer, actor and is thoughtful and gracious in both his creative endeavors and everyday life. In essence he made falling in love easy.
We filmed all of the scenes for Shadowlands episode 2 when the painter is alone first over the course of four days and though I hadn’t shot with Marc yet, I had all the richness I needed to shape our relationship in my mind because of his generosity of time leading up to the shoot. I witnessed how he walks on the balls of his feet when excited, the joys of a road trip with him singing the soundtrack, his predilection for flat ginger ale, his dedication to family, how he looks when excited by a phone call and how it’s impossible not to catch his smile when he throws it in your direction.
Marc and I got together yesterday to watch the footage from the shoot and make some selections together. Since this is a story about a relationship, I wanted to continue to share the film making process with him. Marc has a great instinct and his opinion has been invaluable throughout this journey. We’re so excited to share the film with you on the film festival circuit and on TV in Spring 2018!