Long Shot Screen Writing Company's Biography
Film Biography: “That’s Why God Made The Movies”
Duration/ Format: 10 mins, Beta SP format
Director – Cristina Teixeira. Producer – Tamasin Berry-Hart
“That’s Why God Made The Movies” is a psychological/social drama shot entirely from the point of view of an un-named, slightly disabled seven-year old child. His mother Milly, a single parent, is unable to cope with the realities of bringing up a child alone and leaves a lot of parenting to her new boyfriend Roy, who steps into the role of father with enthusiasm. However, Roy’s affection soon proves to have an unnatural and paedophilic root, and he abuses the child whilst telling him a bedtime story as his mother sits oblivious downstairs. The vehicle of a “bedtime story” is used throughout the film, with Roy reading a tale of heroes and dragons which is cut with scenes of the child’s recollections of his day spent with Roy playing football. “That’s Why God Made The Movies” contains no foul language or nudity.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE FILM MAKERS
Our main objective in producing this film was to create a film to inspire a forum of serious discussion about the topic of paedophilia. Many issues of technical and moral relevance arose, as outlined below.
Instead of using a real child, the director chose to place the camera as the point of view of the abused child in question – and therefore the audience is put in a unique one to one situation with an abuser. By doing this, it strips away conventional boundaries and distancing mechanisms of film and video, whereby the viewer can pretend that something is not happening “because it is happening on screen.” Instead, it is happening to the viewer. This artifice was also used to concentrate all the audience’s attention into the oppressive universe of an abused child. This unswerving point of view engenders claustrophobia and is intended to demonstrate the helplessness felt by the boy. Importantly, the boy in the film has no name, or face, and represents any and every boy or girl placed in that situation. The private viewers that have seen the film have all been profoundly affected by the way the film forces them to confront the following issues that they would rather not think about.
“Not just dirty old men”
The image of paedophiles as “dirty old men” in raincoats on the fringes of society is prevalent, and many people prefer to think of abusers as a distant, external threat. However many abuse cases occur between children and adults in the same family or with family friends. This reality is hard to acknowledge and the film strives to further the realisation that many families need better communication within their structure in order to overcome the control of an abusive family member. Parents – such as Milly - could benefit from listening to their children more and children could benefit from knowing that their parents will always listen to them. On the news we can see groups of people getting together to go around their neighbourhood to try to get rid of sex offenders in their community, and as long as the threat is perceived as solely external, very few realise that is much more important and effective to establish a constant dialogue with their children. This better communication is just possible if the subject is no longer considered a taboo. In the film Roy signals “quiet” to the child during the abuse, also perpetuating the isolation.
“No Happy Ending”
The film finishes as it began, with the boy listening to the adults’ voices through the wall, while flashing his torch to ward off the dark and perhaps signal for help. The lack of “a happy ending” or at least “a moral ending” does not signify that the film itself does not hold moral standards. Roy’s escape from punishment is not an expression of approval of his actions, nor that such actions should ever be exempt from justice. Even though Roy is not discovered, or lynched, the film leaves him free to abuse another day, to elicit a sense of outrage and repugnance in viewers. “Why doesn’t he get his come-uppance?” we have been asked. Because we wanted to inspire that sense of outrage that he should. If retribution happens on screen, then the viewer can relax comfortably in the knowledge that he or she does not have to get upset about it. Justice has been served without his or her input. Another distancing mechanism has been used. However, the reality is not a fairy story. It is not happening in a country far, far away. And, as Roy’s final words show, the end of the film is not The End. The abuse continues, and it will until we establish a real dialogue with all parties involved.
“Abuse handed down through generations.”
We did not feel that it was enough to begin from the simplistic starting point that paedophilia is bad. (This is self-evident in the film.) Such a starting point would not explore the cycle that perpetuates child abuse, and discourages understanding of the problem. Paedophilia has been typified as an illness, sadly very often caused by the very same person being abused in the past. We strove to demonstrate the dynamics of abuser and abused. “I’ll show you something my father showed me.” says Roy, as the abuse commences. More importantly it raises the issue of complicity with the child, how a relationship of guilty secretiveness starts. “It’s very secret, and you mustn’t talk about it, remember?” Is Roy aware that he is doing something wrong, or has he become so damaged that he believes that this is how love is shown? And will the child absorb this and become an abuser in his turn? The film makes it clear that abuse of children is horrific, unconscionable and psychologically damaging. Roy seems to speak about his father with tortured love, describing how they would go to football matches together. “We’d have ice-cream afterwards and maybe see a movie.” Then when he leaves the child alone in bed after abusing him, he promises that tomorrow they’ll have fun, and maybe go and a movie – the treats and outings are given as some kind of reward for the child’s silence. Roy’s split attitude – sometimes acting as if it is all innocent, sometimes imprisoning the child in warning complicity, leads on to the symbolism of hero and villain.
“Heroes and Villains.”
The vehicle of a bedtime story was used to bind the short film and the child’s day together in a slightly fantastical structure. Roy’s bedtime story about Sir Galahad fighting the dragon represents in flashback the child fighting his angry mother who had been scolding him earlier. The hero-figure of Batman is used to represent Roy, arriving in the nick of time to bring the child a present and take him out footballing. In children’s movies and bedtime stories, heroes and villains are often clearly delineated. In adult stories however, the denouement often means that the good guy turns out to be the bad guy. However here the symbols of "hero" and "villain" were metaphors and deliberately inverted to signal the confusion inside the child’s mind. His saviour, father figure and hero has become his worst enemy.
Coincidentally, after we finished our project the media started to report on "some of the heroes of our time" - producers, musicians, actors, lawyers, people in public life – as having subscribed to a paedophilic website. Even people that the public respect, and aspire to be, even pillars of the establishment, can suffer from this type of sexual leaning, and again, as in Roy’s case, instead of looking for treatment they are hiding, and by paying for images they were continuing horrific child abuse and perpetuating the cycle.
EMOTIONAL IMPACT OF THE FILM
The whole crew, as well as the production team, and the post-production team, all became very emotional about the subject whilst filming. The opinion was that even a painful and difficult idea must have a chance to be discussed on all levels, there must be a right to be known, and to be heard. We would like to stress that “That’s Why God Made The Movies” was a very low budget movie (£450 all told) and our whole crew worked around the clock to realise this project. During the process of making this film we realised that we should never be afraid about what people have to say, but we should have a fear of keeping silent.
WHY DID GOD MAKE THE MOVIES?
We asked many of our crew during filming why they thought God made the movies. Movies are held out by Roy as the treat that his father often gave him, and it is the same enticement that is given to the child. In the child’s mind, God must have made some good things to compensate for the abuse that he is suffering. Do the movies exist to buy the silence of the child, or did God make the movies to show the truth to people who would rather not see? This is a question whose answer depends on the individual’s perception.
FILM MAKERS BIOGRAPHIES
Cristina Teixeira (Writer and Director) was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and published her first book at the age of nine, a collection of essays from a child’s perspective addressed to adults. Her second book was short stories and poems. She graduated in law at the Catholic University in Rio, and has worked as a producer and director for TV, commercials and film in Brazil. She is currently resident in London, a member of BAJ, studied on the Royal Court Young Writers Programme, and is director of the Long Shot Screenwriting Company, and founder of The Factory, Brixton.
Tess Berry-Hart (Producer and Script Editor) studied law at King’s College
and was selected by the Royal Court as British delegate for the international
theatre festival European Interplay. Co-founder of The Factory, Brixton, and
director of the Long Shot Screenwriting Company.
“That’s Why God Made The Movies” is their first self-funded, independent film.
For further information on Long Shot Screenwriting Company contact:
3 Sloane House, Roland Way, London. SE17 2JF