“The unsettling cinematography, the non-linear editing, and the emotionally driven performances all played off to me as a beautiful harmonic symphony. A film that is powerful from its story to its final sound mix. Everything worked together really wel and concluded a story that I will never forget.”
Oliver, a retired single parent, comes home from the store to find his autistic daughter, Ana, brutally abused. Taking matters into his own hands, the father sets off on a hunt to reap his revenge.
Mute is a film that speaks of perception, fear, retribution, our inner conscience and truth, a lm that follows three characters that are “mute” in their individual ways. They are afraid to speak of their inner thoughts and desires, living each day of their lives as they come.
One of the original inspirations for the lm came in 2007, when director Hassan Said read a story of a mother that decided to drown ve of her children in a bathtub. The event left a resonance that did not escape Said’s mind, and he felt that there is a story to be told about a parent’s love.
“WHAT CAN DRIVE A FATHER OR A MOTHER SO FAR AS TO KILL HIS OR HER OWN FLESH AND BLOOD? IS IT RADICAL OR LOGICAL? I STARTED SEEING AN OLD LOWER MIDDLE CLASS FATHER, WHO LOST EVERYTHING IN HIS LIFE BUT HIS DAUGHTER, THE ONLY LAST THING THAT PUTS A SMILE ON HIS FACE. IF HE WERE TO EVER LOOSE HER, HE WOULD DEFINITELY LOOSE HIMSELF”
Autism was another subject matter Said wanted to tackle in a lm, and he felt that MUTE was the perfect place for it. Said began his research by meeting with men and women who live with au- tism. As the script was written, Said only saw the color yellow bleeding throughout the lm. Re ecting a metaphor for madness, a world that is an insane asylum and how all the characters are trapped within that visual color.
“TO ME, AUTISM IS NOT AN ILLNESS IN ANY WAY, BUT A SUPER MENTAL ENERGY THAT TENDS TO BE VIEWED AS A NAÏVE CHARACTERISTIC. THE CHARACTERS TO ME ARE ALL AUTISTIC IN THEIR OWN WAY... A FATHER, BITTER, JOBLESS, WHO HAS A SOUR TASTE OF LIFE IN HIS MOUTH AND HAS NOTHING LEFT IN THE WORLD BUT HIS DAUGHTER; A PHOTOGRAPHER, WHO IS FAIRLY HANDSOME AND SUCCESSFUL BUT HAS NO UNDERSTANDING OF HIMSELF ALONG WITH A SEXUAL FRUSTRATION THAT JUXTAPOSES HIS OUTSIDE PERSONA; AND FINALLY, ANA, A TALENTED, GENTLE,
HOPEFUL, INNOCENT ANGEL, WHO HAS MORE HEART THAN ANY OF THE CHARACTERS AND A CREATIVITY THAT MAKES HER WANT TO CONTINUE LIVING IN OUR CURRENT CHAOTIC WORLD.”
As rehearsals began, the actors forced themselves to dig deep inside their souls to touch the core of these characters.Especially for Vanessa (Ana), it was quite a challenge to absorb being autistic, i.e., learning the physical mannerisms. On top of that, she has to absorb the abuse of the only two men she knows in her life.
By the time principal photography came, every single person on the set could feel the emotional impact of these scenes as they unfold. It is infront of everybody and no longer on paper alone.
The actors would be in tears between takes con- suming their intensity to release in the characters they became.
“THE UNSETTLING CINEMATOGRAPHY, THE NON LINEAR EDITING, AND THE EMOTIONALLY DRIVEN PERFORMANCES ALL PLAYED OFF TO ME AS A BEAUTIFUL HARMONIC SYMPHONY. A FILM THAT IS POWERFUL FROM ITS STORY TO ITS FINAL SOUND MIX. EVERY- THING WORKED TOGETHER REALLY WELL AND CONCLUDED A STORY THAT I WILL NEVER FORGET.”
In the end, Said’s main goal was to tell a story that would not shy from brutal imagery, not try to limit itself with predictable character resolutions, not fol- low a typical lm-act structure, and psychologically push the characters to limitless extents.
Written and Directed by Hassan Said
Produced by Ryan Lough and Hassan Said
Edited by Greg Whitlow
Cinematography by Jordan Danelz
Production Design by Olivia Hill
Sound Designer/Mixing by Matt Wood
Daniel Higgins, Vanessa Donley, Jesse Mueller.
• WINNER of the Jury Award for Best Editing at the Big Easy Film Festival.
• WINNER of the German Independence Award for Best foreign language short film at the Oldenburgh International Film Festival
• WINNER of the Award of Merit for Short film and Direction - The Accolade Film Awards
• Official Selection - Reel Heart International Film Festival
• Official Selection - Queens Film Festival
• Official Selection - Independents' film festival
• Official Selection - Jersey Shore Film Festival
• Official Selection - San Antonio Film Festival
• Official Selection - Indie Fest USA
• Official Selection - Atlanta Underground Film Festival.
RUNNING TIME: 19 min
DATE OF COMPLETION: March 2009
SHOOTING FORMAT: Super 16mm
COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION: U.S.A.
FILMING LOCATION: San Francisco, CA
Shot on ARRI SR2 camera
Kodak lm stock (7218 500T, 7229 500T, 7217 200T)
Cut on Final Cut Pro
Film processing by Fotokem
Telecine by Spy Post Studios
1.85:1, Color, Stereo