Laura Broadbent: Short Film II


A woman in her early thirties is shown performing all the rhythmic, banal things any human being does unselfconsciously throughout the day such as brushing teeth, tripping in legs of underwear, peeing, splashing water over face, leaning on the counter while drinking orange juice out of the carton, staring into space combined with small disembodied shots such as her wrist wrenching the espresso handle, slipping her foot into her shoe, and so on.

The director has full creative license over what banal tasks are shown, and in what sequence. However there are four crucial things that must be included:

1. The film begins with the woman in bed, in the morning. She opens her eyes, stares for a solid, silent, five seconds. Then cue the blaring sound of an air horn. The first blast should be sustained. It is important that the woman does not react to this sound. Instead, unblinking, she continues to stare, then rubs her eyes, stretches, rubs her face, gets out of bed, and makes the bed. The air horn does stop intermittently. But only intermittently. Some blasts are brief, others not. Some silences are brief, others not. What is important is that she does not react to them.

2. The horn must blare in intervals throughout the entire film. The juxtaposition of what tasks the woman performs and horn-blast length is entirely up to the director. If choreographed well, a subtle humor should become apparent.

The director must treat the duration of this film as psychological test. The ideal duration should be the amount of time it takes for half of the audience to leave.

Whatever the duration the film, enough time should be allotted to portray an even spectrum of an average day’s activities and end with the final scene where:

3. The woman calmly swallows two pills, and slips into her tidy bed. She closes her eyes, the horn blares for a good ten seconds longer, then stops. The remaining audience members will be rewarded with a final 30 seconds of watching the woman sleep, the only sound being her breath.

4. The film is called “ON GRIEF.” The title must be shown only at the end, when the final scene cuts out. The credits may be shown in silence, or maybe accompanied by music that no matter – from Bach to the Beach Boys – will be absurd. Or, better, perhaps instead of music a sustained “cheering stadium audience” track is played. Director’s choice.


Author Photo credit: Rebecca Storm

Laura Broadbent is Montreal-based. She is the author of OH THERE YOU ARE, I CAN’T SEE YOU, IS IT RAINING? [Invisible Publishing] which won the 2012 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry, and of INTERVIEWS [Metatron Press].