I should start by explaining my personal filming project in a bit more detail, because if I hadn’t been doing that, none of the rest would have followed. George’s club is rather unimaginatively called The Inferno. I think he wanted some girl to think he was classically educated at the time he was opening it as a means to opening her, so to speak. I doubt he’s traversed even as far as Dante’s first circle, but the internet’s a wonderful thing and you can get these outlines of any of the classics on it and appear to be far more erudite and insightful than nature would ever have provided. You certainly don’t need to waste any time or brain power reading the books.
At least it meant he didn’t spend all his time on the net just searching for porn I suppose.
I’ve got a classical education, mind you – English, philosophy and a bit of psychology for my first degree, then on to film school. I must say, I learned a hell of a lot more useful stuff at film school than that BA ever gave me. Anyone who thinks an undergraduate university degree gives you anything but information skimmed from the surface of things is an idiot. Ah well, there’s a lot of idiots in the world paying university fees I suppose, or parents with idiot pretensions and more money than sense, like mine, sending their kids off to the hallowed halls.
So, just think twice before that sort of thing impresses you, is all I’m saying. Or by people sprouting off classical references, or naming their clubs (which are basically just drug riddled pick up joints in the final analysis) after the works of the great poets.
George is a funny guy. He’s so transparent, but that makes him useful and genial. Stroke his ego a bit, see him as this great entrepreneur, and he’s like a puppy dog at your feet. It’s an incongruous image in a way because George is rather too large to be a puppy dog, rather too balding and rather too fat, though I suppose some puppy dogs might be portly. Still, offer him something a bit illicit also, or something that he thinks he can use in a business sense, and he’s right there with you, sharing the “dream”. And that suits me.
Anyway, back to The Inferno. It’s actually very successful – fashion is fickle and I must admit that George has an uncanny instinct for this sort of thing. I doubt he’ll ever be rich, but he’ll always more than make do. He knows to bring in good people – designers and architects and DJs, and he has enough connections with the drug world to make sure all substances run freely in his midst. George understands his market, and that’s a valuable skill in itself.
The club had established itself very well – it had been open for about six months and the crowds were growing – when I brought my concept to him. He was just starting to get obsessed about security. He had cameras and response units in place, but he is delightfully paranoid. George has possibly missed his calling, he should be writing for a reboot of the X Files really, he can see darkness in everything. Even in the deliberate shadows he created himself for ambience. Given what was really there in his club, right under his nose, it’s very ironic that he didn’t see it. But that’s the point I suppose. He couldn’t.
Perhaps that’s the thing. If you look for darkness it will ever elude you, but if you don’t go looking it will find you, and when you least expect it. Darkness is clever. It recognizes the advantages of surprise.
Still, as it happens, a project that involved multiple cameras in his set up was immediately appealing to him. I explained my concept to him over vodka tonics and a couple of lines of coke. We were both a bit wired, as you’d imagine, but also very clear. What I wanted, I told him, was to film certain patterns of interactions over and over to find any similarities, any rituals and any habits that emerged. I wanted to see if a class system still existed in our supposedly post modern, freedom loving, egalitarian world. If there are things in the nature of humanity which we just can’t erase with social slogans, political advances and higher education. Do we, I wondered, like hierarchies because we are inherently competitive? And if so, if our politically correct societal rules explicitly limit that tendency in our day to day lives, does it emerge in another form somewhere else?
And if so, I wanted to see what this was based on, if certain patterns of behavior were more socially successful than others, if there was some identifiable and replicable ‘dance’ of social success that anyone could learn and inhabit. I was looking for tribal rites, I told him, and realized I was starting to lose him. Psychology and sociology weren’t his field it seemed. In the final analysis, I think thought itself wasn’t really his field. He’s a gut and gonads type of guy. I got back to the basics before he was lost to me.
“Cameras set up to observe the bar, the main dance floor, the toilets, and the shadowy parts where people seem to go to try to hide. Four main perspectives, filmed over and over, every night, recorded for patterns that are constant and those that change depending upon the night of the week or the people involved. Eventually I’ll make it a collage, a kind of layered visual picture, but for the moment I just need to see what’s there, if anything..”
“I’ve got some security cameras.” George muttered, swirling the remnant of his drink with the ice in the glass. He looked a bit mournful for a moment, like a man knowing he is teetering on the abyss of middle age, sinking fast. Probably just the alcohol though. George is not a creature of any great self-awareness. I sometimes envy him that attribute, or that lack.
“The quality of that film is shite, man, you know that. I’m talking the best digital technology. I can get that from my parents. I want it so good I could zoom in and almost see and taste the sweat on a girl’s chest when she’s getting turned on.”
“Or the nipples hardening?” George asked, suddenly more enthused. “You’d do that, sit and manipulate the images that way?”
“Well no George.” I replied, irritated. He never really listened to what you had to say. “I don’t intend to be there. I don’t intend to manipulate the patterns at all. It wouldn’t do to impose my will on it in that way. The idea is the camera eye sees without discrimination, without judgment, without choice, only what is there, not what the seeing eye may choose to see…”
“Pity.” George commented. Perhaps even in the dim recesses of his mind he was calculating how unlikely it was for an inanimate camera to choose to zero in on what he wanted with any intelligence or purpose. Getting to see girls in a state of arousal would be luck at best, which fitted my thematic requirements, but not his. Or perhaps even thinking that through was presently beyond him and he was just disappointed in general. In either case, I was losing him again.
“All I was saying was that the technology is that good, and that security cameras just don’t cut it. We could see all that other stuff later, once I get into the analysis and editing stage.”
I was promising him something here that may or may not be possible to deliver in the end. It made me feel like a real estate agent or a used car salesman. The house will appreciate in value, or the car will not require further mechanical work. When in fact I didn’t really know what I would find or have to manipulate from the filming.
George raised one eyebrow above the other, looking more intelligent and laconic than he really is. I always hate people who can do that. My eyebrows stubbornly refuse to go anywhere on my face separately. They follow each other – up or down – like siamese twins. I feel robbed of a sign of style that I should rightly have.
“And you could see what turns the different girls on, what makes them respond…your own little information source that they don’t know you have” I went on promising, sorry, lying.
“Sounds kinky, are you sure it’s legal?”
“Oh, yes,” I replied, knowing I had him, that he was going to agree after all, “It’s absolutely legal”.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2015, All Rights Reserved