“ONE HUNDRED MORNINGS” AND GENRE
Here’s the last of our guest blog posts by the makers of One Hundred Mornings, currently running at Los Angeles’s Downtown Independent Theater. This one is by writer/director Conor Horgan on the genre possibilities of his movie.
When I finished writing the script for One Hundred Mornings, I wasn’t overly concerned about which genre the film would be — I just wanted to get it made. But most filmmakers have to specify their project’s genre at an early stage — it makes everything nice and neat, and life is a little easier for all involved, except maybe for the writer/director who finds it important to try something that doesn’t fit in so easily, for whatever odd reasons of his own…
One Hundred Mornings has elements from several different genres: horror, thriller, dystopian relationship drama and others, but it wasn’t specifically any one of those. And without wishing to quibble at all with the decision of the fine people at the Rhode Island International Film Festival who recently gave us the Vortex Science Fiction & Fantasy award, I don’t think it’s really one of those categories either.
It does have what could be called a sci-fi element, albeit more of an indie sci-fi than anything more lavish. I used to devour science-fiction books when I was a kid — Frederik Pohl, Stanislaw Lem, and when I got a little older, the twisted, paranoid imaginings of Philip K Dick (though after reading about PKD later, it seems a lot of it was pretty real for him.) I was always more interested in ‘hard’ sci-fi, which has its logic rooted in the possible and probable, than in the other kinds, which often felt like some kind of faerie opera in space. One of my first school essays that attracted any kind of positive attention had definite similarities to the plot of The Omega Man, with my solitary teenaged protagonist wandering down deserted streets and past familiar Dublin landmarks, utterly and gloriously alone. In hindsight, I suspect that story was much more about being a teenager than about living in a futuristic world. But then again, aren’t all futuristic films really reflections of current issues and preoccupations? Anyway, the world we set out to create in One Hundred Mornings didn’t require the addition of any fantastical element to make it feel real; all it needed was the subtraction of one of the elements that we all tend to take very much for granted — readily available power. So I think that, much as I love science-fiction in many of its forms, OHM couldn’t accurately be described as a sci-fi movie.
Another possible category for the film raised its head halfway through filming — I was talking to lead actors Ciaran McMenamin and Alex Reid on the wooden veranda of the very un-Irish looking cabin that was our main location, when it suddenly hit me and I asked them if they were aware that the film could also be a kind of a Western — after all, it had remote locations, a sheriff type figure, life and death situations borne out of elemental needs — the whole shooting match. I could see slow smiles growing on their faces — of course the same thought had occurred to them, and a long time before it had with me. As the conversation wore on Alex was horrified when I admitted I’d never actually seen Once Upon a Time In The West, and she made sure to send me a copy as soon as we’d wrapped.
Things could have very easily gone in another direction as well: an early script reader pointed out to me that if I made a few simple changes I would most likely have a gangbuster of a horror flick on my hands, but that also wasn’t the film I was most interested in making — I wanted to make something else.
I can still remember, very clearly, being unable to sleep after the first time I saw a film called Z — it was about the iniquities of the military dictatorship in Greece in the early 70’s, and was made in France by the exiled director Costa Gavras. I was probably around eleven years old, and saw the film on a flickering black & white TV, and what kept me awake wasn’t the horror of it, or the violence —which was tame enough, even by the standards of the day. What had me tossing and turning was the sheer injustice of it all — I wasn’t terrified, I was fuming. I’m pretty sure this was also the first time I became aware of film’s power to provoke as well as to entertain, and this is something I’ve tried to hold on to ever since.
But OHM wasn’t written to be a political film either, at least not in the way that Z was. Like most of us, I was becoming increasingly interested in some of the global problems that have been looming ever larger in recent years, so in a way I set out to make the most realistic depiction that I could of a world where some of those problems have come into effect — and do it in a way that would show how we might try to deal with the consequences of such clearly signposted issues. And no, I didn’t know what kind of a genre you could call that either.
So One Hundred Mornings is all of the above genres, and none of them. It’s not a horror film, but it gave my younger sister nightmares — it’s not a fantasy, though a large part of me wishes that it was. If I had a gun held to my head (which I haven’t…yet) and had to come up with a description, I’d probably quote a filmmaker friend, who called the film “a fine, spiky example of Irish post-apocalyptic speculative fiction.” Which is just what I was hoping for — a genre all of its own. — Conor Horgan