Themes: Family, addiction, and sacrifice.
Format: 35mm Film
Genre: Family Drama, Short
Location: Long Beach, CA
Paulina, a 17 year old girl living in the Cambodian gambling community, struggles with her father and the realities of addiction.
Immersed in a vibrant world where bets and wagers are a part of everyday living, 17 year old Paulina has found herself attracted to the game; a love understood and shared by her father, Sam, and an avid community of Cambodian gamblers. Met with strong disapproval from her sister Sopheap, Paulina remains strongly tied to the community. But soon she finds herself in the midst of her father’s war with addiction, and the realities of this world is unmasked; Paulina must inevitably choose between the world she is drawn to and the life she might someday want.
In approaching the sound design for this film, it is my goal to authenticate Paulina’s world as well as her growth throughout the piece. Her change occurs through her perception of those around her, something that must be established through sound. For example, at the beginning of the story, Paulina is immersed in the life of the gambling house. The people all around her, the games, the chaos is all something wonderfully familiar and exciting. By the story’s end, she’s come to see it as something cold and isolated from herself; the realities of the world settles in. With sound, the euphonious chatter of the gambling house transforms into cacophonous isolations of debt, deceit, and devastation. I hope to use sound design to better maintain the audience in Paulina’s world and allow them to transform with her.
The most important part is staying with our protagonist as much as we can, to get inside her head, to understand what it is she sees and feels and to capture those moments and translate it so the audience can experience this world with her, through her. It’s a visceral experience, just like the game of cards. Everything has its beat, its rhythm, its mood and tone. Each scene is a progression or a spiral. The world transcends and descends with scenes that are understated and full of rich subtexts. As Paulina’s curiosity peaks, so should ours. As her ideals unravel, and as the vibrant gambling world becomes tainted, the audience should also be able to experience the descent. When Paulina has to choose between the world she is drawn to and the world she might someday want, it is important that we as storytellers take you on this journey with her, beside her.
The visual style for “Paulina,” the movie, aims to define the three main stages to which the protagonist goes through her journey:
The enjoyment of the perfect world (fun, vivid, colorful, inviting)
The realization of a menacing habit (asphyxiating, dangerous, mysterious, disappointing, confusing)
The decision to grow up and save herself (hopeful, controllable, promising) Likewise, the cinematography of this project also attempts to portray the culture that Paulina is part of, as a way to bring the audience closer to the main character, and thus, to the story.