Director’s Statement


Initially influenced by Ariel Dorfman’s play Death and the Maiden, Two Graves begins with a quotation that inspired the title, “Before embarking on a journey of revenge, first dig two graves”.

The film deals with guilt and personal responsibility, as our central protagonist, Margaret, a pathologist and doctor, attempts to fill the void of her failure and weakness by seeking vengeance.

The film opens with the reciting of the twelve steps at an AA meeting, the words of recovery somehow resonating with the actions, inner emotions and psychological state of the characters, as this almost Jacobean revenge tragedy plays out, and while Two Graves is both tragic and dramatic, there are also moments of comedy and black comedy, much like Thomas Middleton’s Jacobean play, certainly as it deals with the relationship and back and forth between Margaret and Zoe and the dynamics between mismatched night watchmen, George and Barry.

Margaret, educated, middle class, who at times has the stoic and cold demeanour of a doctor, whose analytical front belies her pain, guilt and need for revenge, and Zoe, a recovering addict, chaotic, anarchistic, almost like a feral animal, surviving on instinct and wits.

These women, under any other circumstances, would have nothing in common, yet they find a common goal, but deceit and lies, whether it be self deceit or self serving, is another theme that Two Graves explores, and Zoe’s motivation becomes a key dramatic factor amongst the series of twists and turns the story takes. Like a classic film noir, the characters are not always what they seem, particularly when the theme of parenting is explored. Even the most villainous of characters, gangster Tommy, is not always as unsympathetic as he would first appear. His homophobia and self delusion about his son’s character is at odds with a man trying to be a loving father.

Using a colour palate of deep blacks, dark blues, greys and Autumn browns, the empty shipyard of rusted reds is broken and decayed in a world of half light. Very much influenced by David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, this is a film of dark shadows.

Moody and character driven, Two Graves resembles the bleakness of the 1970’s films, Get Carter and physiological thriller, Klute, both successfully capturing a dark, intense sensibility, and more recently, in the TV series The Killing, where the characters’ motivation is always living in shadow.

By contrast, Margaret sets up an interrogation room of white plastic, with bright light shinning through in the midst of the decaying and empty shipyard. In her bid to create a womb of truth and extract a confession, a sterile, cold clinical operation room is recreated, like the military hospitals she would have served her time in as a medical doctor in the army in the Gulf.

We intend to shoot primarily hand held on an Alexa Mini, with the events taking place mostly over one day. Beginning with the cold early morning light and ending with sundown.

Although a tight, confined story, we want to use the landscape of the shipyard that is vast, derelict and abandoned to give it cinematic scope. With a continuous reactive roving camera, always moving, whether it be slowly or jittery in times of violence, the camera is never still, but roaming, stalking, shooting through things, allowing sunlight to flare into the lens, putting characters in silhouette against back-lit natural light, to emphasise the inner ambiguity or hide the characters’ motivations.

Both epic and cinematic, but continuously combining naturalistic acting, emotions are raw and heightened, but never theatrical.

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