Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury…

It’s been quiet on the They Live Among Us site… quiet, because I’ve been a busy little Creator.

Episodes 4-6 are wrapped and in the post process. The dailies are lush and gorgeous; the work brimming with love, anguish and rage… I can’t wait for you all to join us as the story continues.

In the meantime, a fundraiser of a new kind is being launched. Inspired by a chance encounter during the shooting of 4 – 6, a t-shirt design has been commissioned and graciously provided to us by David Taylor aka @SciFiCommons.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, here it is *drumroll please*:

I am hooked on this design; however, I’d love to hear your thoughts in regard to the copy. Below is a little poll I’ve created, to help me make my decision. Please, gentle readers, consider taking a few seconds and completing this poll:

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We Did It!

WE DID IT! Happy New Year to all! May 2012 be YOUR year. We set a lofty goal yesterday – to reach $2000.00 in funding for TLAU Episodes 4 – 6, and we not only succeeded, we exceeded! That’s a great way to ring in the New Year!

Let’s give a giant cheer and a shout out to our first wave of 2012 TLAU backers (in alphabetical order):

Gary Anderson

Katie and Matt Armistead

Reed Boyer

Marneen Lynne Fields

James Gale

Sandra de Helen

Christine Koehler

Marilyn Lower

Liza Martz

Pattie Mulderig

Katia Nizic

Liz Ross

Seth Ruffer

Paul Singleton

Don Shirey

Seth Ruffer

Thanks to each and everyone of you, WE MADE GOAL!

We’ve still got quite a road ahead of us… but we are definitely off to a start.

Next goal? We need to double this amount by Thursday, January 5. Can we do it? YES! With your help.

Here’s a couple of ideas for you – throw a TLAU fundraiser! Are you a great cook or chef? Have a fundraising soiree! Do you frequent a local restaurant or pub? Talk to the owners and see if they will host a fundraising night, donating 30% of sales to TLAU. Are you involved in theatre? Have a staged reading of plays, and donate the proceeds… the possibilities are endless!

Check back later today, when we’ll be announcing our first TLAU Contest! Oh, is it a goody!

Remember, it takes a village to produce a film, and we’re so happy to have you as members of our tribe. So let’s make goal, and have some Bloody. Sexy. Fun!

xo

anne

Moments of Grace

“I don’t believe in stories with happy endings; I believe in moments of grace.” ~ Todd Field, AMC Shoot Out

I’ve been thinking a great deal about this quote, as post enters its final stages for Episodes 1 – 3 of They Live Among Us.

Moments of grace. What the characters – supernatural and mortal – are seeking. What I – as a writer, a filmmaker, a human being – am seeking. Moments of grace.

We live in ungraceful times; we are culturally conditioned to judge a man not by his actions, but by the amount of money he makes. Profit is our deity; we feed off of the misery of others through war-profiteering, loan-shark banking and depriving the impoverished of healthcare. An infant dies in its mother’s arms because the truckload of grain that relief organizations sent to her camp was hijacked and resold for profit. Churches build towering gilt monoliths worth hundreds of millions of dollars – and these structures cast giant shadows on Skid Row. Victims of rape are murdered by their families, for their victimization is seen as an admission that they are the guilty ones. Children are bought and sold – traded like junk bonds – within the sex-trade industry.

We know this, of course. We hear it on the nightly news… but we refuse to listen. Instead of exploring the human crisis that is Darfur, we turn our attention towards the Jersey Shore. We do anything, everything to drown out this influx of data, for the shame and guilt that we would feel if we were to open our hearts and our minds to the human suffering that surrounds us would be more than the soul could bear.

It was not without trepidation that I began this project. I knew that I would be taken to very dark and painful places; and yet, I also knew that I would experience moments of grace… and that is pwhat I experience as I witness post: beings as they battle demons, literal and figurative, while strugglthe in the place that is the City of Angels… and seek moments of grace. Dark emotions and conflict lurk just beneath the surface; scenes are taut, whittled down to what is most primal and essential. A killer seeks true love. A priest ministers to demons. A lonely man loves a ghost. An angel yearns for a prostitute.

Moments of anguish… enveloped by moments of grace.

The Eye of the Beholder

Film is a fascinating medium to work in. First, you create a world, and those who walk within it, and then you work with cast and crew to achieve an articulation of your vision. Eventually, you make your way to the moment of truth – the rough cut.

I have spent the past few months wandering through the world of “They Live Among Us.” Night after night I have sat in a corner of the Paradise, or followed Caim on his sojourn through the mean streets. I have watched Lucian and Beliala rise, and I have shed tears for Peg – as well as for Ted’s heart-breaking dilemma.

This morning, once again, I watched Lillith. Through the lens.

A curious thing happens when you look at the world through a lens. Life is compressed. Distilled to its very essence. It is stripped of everything superfluous. It sees only the truth. It is omniscient. It is the eye of the beholder.

Looking at the footage, I was able to behold Lillith for all that she is. Beautiful. Fractured. Tormented by the demons within. She did not toy with Craig, as a cat does with its prey; instead, she genuinely wanted to be near him. Loneliness was the hunger that drove her to him – her need for love was great. Unfairly punished by the machinations of a patriarchal society. Expelled, cast forth, turned into a victim of her own desires.

And thus, Craig responded as any young man would; he pursued her. The hunt had commenced. His attraction to her was not false – how could it be ? He paid for her drinks, and he took her to a rooftop. The promise of the pleasures of her flesh danced in his head. He wooed her out of her shyness, and he reclined in anticipation of what was to come…

… and another moment of truth. Lillith’s dark nature took over. Her abandonment into carnality was not titillating; instead, it was tragic. I watched, mute, as Lillith lost herself in Craig. I watched as she fed on his pleasure, on his desire, on his life-force. Her eyes fluttered; she was sated… and then awareness came upon her. She moaned as she saw what she had done. Shame, disgust, guilt flew across her face; cumulus clouds of anguish. She scrambled away from him, hating herself a little bit more, as she has done every time that she has fed on a human.

Later, I saw her at Paradise again. Another night, another man. This one was named Terry – a social worker on Skid Row. At first I assumed that she would feed again, but now that I have witnessed all she experienced that night with Craig, I realize that to do so might destroy her. Each killing brings with it new trauma; another one could push her over the edge of reason. Terry is a kind man with a gentle way about him. She is desperate for contact. She whispers her mantra: “This time, everything will be alright.”

I wonder how long this budding romance will last, for I know that soon Lillith will meet another like her. One who feeds on the pleasure and pain of others. A predator who feeds on lust; he is unapologetic for his state. His appetite is huge. What will come of her, if she couples with him? Will she, like Lucian and Beliala, pass into darkness?

The Struggle Within

Recurrent themes echo within the world of They Live Among Us. Each character struggles with feelings of isolation, of loneliness… of being different… an outsider.

Being alone in a city of over 4 million people provides one with a certain autonomy; there is comfort in invisibility… and yet, there is also sorrow. Each of the characters yearn for something; they wish for their souls to be touched, and it is because of this yearning that they must raise their defenses and bear the shields of objectivity and separation. Emotions must be compartmentalized, for, when they are not, they erupt with the power of Vesuvius.

Good and evil are not defined in black and white in this modern gothic world. No one is completely pure; and yet all have the chance for redemption. Even Lucian longs for love, from his Creator, from his master… from Serafina. Father Buer, in the dark of the night, closes his eyes and dreams of Elysium, where once he loved another. They are very mortal, these immortals. They hope. They fear. They dream.

Each struggles with inner demons: Craig, the perpetual man-child. Rocco, the monkey of drug addiction riding with great fury upon his back. Serafina, burdened with a soul that has been denied eternal rest, Jimmy, haunted by Beth’s sudden disappearance, and Caim, the wounded warrior angel, tormented by his actions of the past, having to face what haunts him most, again and again, in perpetuity.

Caim has traveled as far into the dark that any being can journey, and still survive. This last foray has left an indelible stamp upon his spirit. You can see it within his eyes… eyes as blue as the heavens, and yet, as black as the dark of night.

Few of the characters are without choice. Lillith could deny her carnal urgings. Lucian and Beliala could forsake the consumption of flesh. Buer could accept his place in the world, Sam could walk into the light, and Caim could choose, this time, to stay away from Serafina, to let her life unfold without interference.

But they do not. And so, the story continues…

The All-American Succubus

Lillith may be as fresh-faced as a homecoming queen, and yet she is one of the oldest of those who live among us.

The story of Lillith is a cautionary tale about a modern young woman living in less than modern times. Lillith was Adam’s first wife, and, like women of today, believed that she was her spouse’s equal. Unfortunately, Adam did not share this belief. He wanted a mate who was uncomplicated, uneducated and submissive. He wanted to be served. He wanted a slave. And so, in this ancient world of patriarchal theocracy, Lillith was cast forth from Paradise, and forced to wander the earth for eternity.

I think about the shock that she must have felt upon awakening from the fall. How cruel her punishment was, for her only crime was insubordination. I think about the shame, the isolation that she felt, as she navigated through a sea of mortals. I think about Paradise, the memory of it seared into her brain, how she hungered to return home. And hunger she still does, for after the fall, Lillith was transformed into a succubus.

Succubi and incubi are specialized forms of vampires. They are sexual vampires. They may or may not drink the blood of their victims. They may or may not dine on their victim’s flesh. One thing is for certain – what they do is to drain the life-force from their victims, extinguishing them in an orgasmic frenzy.

I sit in the corner of the Paradise Bar. A man walks in – Craig. He’s boyish and rumpled; discontent is settled on his shoulders like a shrug. He sits at the bar, alone, and drinks Scotch.

Across from him, a beautiful young woman. Lillith. She watches Craig; I can feel her attraction to him – it is palpable. How ripe he is. The warmth that emanates from his flesh. I hear the thoughts as they run through her head – Maybe this time it won’t happen, maybe this time I won’t kill him, tonight will be different, maybe this time everything will be alright…

She speaks to Craig; he turns… and within moments he is smitten.

Perhaps tonight will be different. Perhaps tonight, everything will be alright.

For Lillith, the hunt begins.