The slipstream… a mysterious creative force I imagine creating itself from energies of orbiting earth. Somehow we get an inkling of something… “out of the blue” we say. That kind of sudden light bulb is at the root of all kinds of discovery, and it seems impersonal, as if we had nothing to do with it. Some kind of source, available to everyone, bringing us an unexpected gift.
I talked to Tristan Cunningham, a circus performer from the age of 8, and a player in both A LEAP TO TAKE and A BRIDGE TO A BORDER, about doing a movie with a circus theme. So I was sitting on the sand on a Caribbean beach, with a restaurant palapa behind me, when I heard someone singing the blues with a pretty decent guitar accompaniment. I turned around… and somewhere something clicked and the thread of LOVE TWICE tied itself into a discernable bow.
That morning I’d gone an hour and a half out in a dive boat where, out of sight of land, I saw a Fellini-esque gaggle of boats. Maybe 100. Dive boats, cabin cruisers, a motley selection plying the waves in a rough oval around scores of dark fins jutting out of the waves. A coven of water witches? A halfway purgatory on the way to the darker place?
Whalesharks, many of them, 100 or maybe twice as many. There they were, some 40 feet long, weighing tons, relentlessly scudding through the waves, cavernous mouths wide, siphoning the krill, plankton, fish eggs, surfacing cuisine from countless sea organisms, into maw, down palpitating throats into Melville’s (and Jonah’s) legendary stomachs. This had to be in the film.
And on another dive I saw cement figures 35 feet down reminiscent of the terracotta army of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, a body guard in the afterlife, buried with him in 210–209 BCE. What were they doing there? They had to be in the film.
And what of the ruined plantation back in the forest created by a 19th century adventurer, rumored to be both a pirate and a slaver? How did it relate to the life of a beautiful island girl who refused a pirate’s amorous advances to marry a local fisherman? I couldn’t ignore it.
All part of the story of Luz, beautiful Trinidadian circus performer, performed by Tristan, and Ken, a Chinese American tourist (Jeff Kao) burdened by a family he never should have had. A drunk, infatuated by a dream, a dream woman who saw something in him he didn’t know he had. A love story told in two chapters, ten years apart, where each creates in the other, a reason to exist where none seemed possible. A broken soul heals. A broken body is adored. And the island people: Rodrigo a tough and seasoned fishing boat captain, unsentimental, but tuning fork to the human moment. Clara, the instinctive healer, he leaves behind. And the tourists, 21st Century paparazzi, cell phones at the ready.
A film set on a tropical island somewhere in the Caribbean. How account for how it arrived that day from the slipstream? I can’t. But now we have to produce it. Stay tuned to hear about the production of LOVE TWICE, an adventure about to begin.