EQUINOX

A WORLD OF Q SHORT FILM
In the near future, a totalitarian government wipes out a resistance movement and surgically removes the voices of all resistor’s children. Years later, Velouria’s foster sister persuades her to pledge allegiance to the same regime in exchange for receiving voice integration therapy.

In the Spring of 2017, we began working on Velouria, the first installation of the World of Q short film series. With a total of four participants (Anoushka Ratnarajah, PonyBoy, Yulia Arakelyan, Ali Chavez Leeds) and in accordance with the collaborative guidelines of the project, the Kalik team facilitated a two-day creation & production workshop. In our time together, we built on the World of Q storyworld, elaborated on Velouria’s story, created script outline for our film, and collaborated on pre-production planning and art direction tasks. We are currently in post-production for this film.

ABOUT WORLD OF Q
WORLD OF Q is a multi­-phased collaborative filmmaking initiative featuring films and media art that all revolve around the central storyworld, with each film exploring a different dimension of the storyworld. We have devised a collaborative filmmaking process where all participants involved in the project build/bend the rules of the storyworld, where actors shape their characters, where cast and crew are agents in the process guiding its direction, and where all the folks involved in the project are of the communities represented in the films.
WORKSHOP & BTS PHOTOS
STORYBOARD
OPENING SCENE

Velouria is staring out her window. Resistance poster is being taken down by city worker. Beneath the poster is a faint trace of moss. Velouria looks down at a pamphlet: You’re turning 25… voice re-introduction therapy… She runs her fingers over the X tattoo on her neck. Selim comes in and asks if she’s ready to go (to the doctor).

SCENE EIGHT

Velouria is sitting outside her house, upset. Zulal approaches her and hands her another package in newspaper. They look at each other. V notices the symbol on Zulal’s neck too. She hides the package in her coat and goes inside.

SCENE TWO

DOCTOR BRIGGS: So you’re here to register Velouria for vocal re-integration therapy.

SELIM: Yes, she turned twenty five a month ago.

DOCTOR BRIGGS: I see here that you’re her legal guardian?

SELIM: She was adopted into our family shortly after the cleanse.

DOCTOR BRIGGS: Everything looks to be in order according to her state files. (Reading from Velouria’s files) The military sanctioned the procedure to remove her voicebox, and since then there have been no blemishes on her record. (Pauses, looks up). She’s lived a clean life and your family reported her to the COG database once a year in accordance with State procedures.

SELIM: Our parents were very diligent. I’ve been filling out her forms since they died.

DOCTOR BRIGGS: Can she write?

SELIM: Well, it’s the guardian’s responsibility to report.

DOCTOR BRIGGS: I’m just curious about her abilities.

SELIM: She likes to draw. Right Velouria?

Velouria looks cautiously at Selim.

DOCTOR BRIGGS: You’re an artist?

Velouria looks down at her hands and shrugs.

SELIM: She likes looking out at our garden and making little sketches. Nothing too elaborate.

Velouria looks up, but doesn’t make eye contact with Selim or Doctor Briggs. She nods briefly.

DOCTOR BRIGGS: All right then. I don’t see any indication that would disqualify her from the surger– therapy. We can schedule it for a month from now. The procedure is fairly simple. Providing there are no complications, she should be speaking again in a week or so.

SELIM: (worried) How likely are complications? 

DOCTOR BRIGGS: You have nothing to worry about. Velouria will be in the care of State doctors.

SELIM: (relieved) Okay. 

She reaches out to hold Velouria’s hand.

SELIM: What will her voice sound like?

DOCTOR BRIGGS: There’s no way to know. This is a replacement, not a repair. She won’t sound the way she would have before, and anyway, she was what, eight years old when they took her voice?

SELIM: Five.

Velouria shifts in her chair and pulls her hand away from Selim’s.

DOCTOR BRIGGS: She’ll adapt to the new voicebox, and we’ll be monitoring her closely.

SELIM: All right. Okay. Good. 

DOCTOR BRIGGS: It’s very safe. Thousands of survivors are rehabilitated every year.

SELIM: Right. I’m sorry I have so many questions. I’m just nervous. My parents always wanted this for her…

DOCTOR BRIGGS: I am sure your family was chosen because they were upstanding citizens.

SELIM: Yes, of course. It’s been very hard with them gone. Velouria is like a sister to me.

DOCTOR BRIGGS: (Looks at Velouria). Well, the only thing left before the procedure can be booked is to take the Upstanding Citizenship Test and reaffirm her loyalty to the State. Here are the study materials.

Doctor Briggs points to a binder stamped with OFFICIAL STATE PLEDGE STUDY MATERIALS. Selim picks it up.

SELIM: Thank you. We’re so grateful.

DOCTOR BRIGGS: (Smiles politely.) It’s my duty. We all have our work to do.

Dr. Briggs shifts in her chair and leans closer to Velouria.

DOCTOR BRIGGS: Velouria. . .

Velouria looks up, hesitantly, at Doctor Briggs’ face.

DOCTOR BRIGGS: Do you understand what you’re pledging?

Velouria holds the doctor’s gaze for a moment, thinking.

DOCTOR BRIGGS: Because it’s very important that you do.

Velouria holds Doctor Briggs’ gaze.

SELIM: Of course she does, don’t you Velouria?

DOCTOR BRIGGS: (not taking her eyes from Velouria’s face) It’s important that the patient makes the acknowledgment. Velouria? Do you understand what you are about to do?

Velouria looks deeply into the doctor’s eyes. Then she looks at Selim. She nods.

SCENE THREE

Zulal is telepathically hacking to find other COGs who are considering getting the surgery. They discover Velouria: sees “surgery pending” and CR (child of resistors) on the file. Zulal tinkers with a paintbrush and some tech, burns a flower symbol on the brush.

SCENE FOUR

Zulal brings the paintbrush wrapped in newspaper and leaves it on V’s windowsill. There is a note on it  that says “there are other ways”. V finds it, opens it up, there is also a small vial of purple paint in there. She notices the symbol on the paintbrush.

SCENE FIVE

The progression of V becoming a gifted painter. She is painting and doodling and writing on the back of the forms from the doctor, and eventually the front too (playing with the text on the forms). Starts putting up the artwork on the wall to form a giant mosaic style piece, the flower. This scene can be intercut with: a) Out the window, remnants of the poster are visible. And b) folks in the studio are working the printing press, making resistance posters, marking with push pins on a big map, working on computers. . .

SCENE SIX

Selim walks into Velouria’s room. Velouria is painting furiously.

Selim is stunned by the magnitude of what she sees. She is speechless for a moment, before erupting in anger.

SELIM: What are you doing?!

Selim leaps forward and grabs the paper Velouria is working on out of her hands. Velouria leaps up as well, shocked.

SELIM: You’re supposed to be studying the pledge, not painting on itWhat is this?! Your study materials?

Velouria reaches out to try and grab the paper back from Selim, but Selim tosses it aside.

SELIM: All of this?! Velouria, are you crazy? You’re throwing/going to throw away your only/this chance to be normal again.?!

Velouria shakes her head and goes to pick up the piece of paper Selim has tossed aside and holds it close to her chest. She looks pleadingly at Selim. She keeps one hand on her heart and and reaches out to Selim with the other, as if to put her hand on Selim’s heart, but Selim jerks away.

Selim looks at the masterpiece on the wall and notices the painting on the wall of the wild ginger flower.

SELIM: You know what this is. Do you know what will happen to us if someone finds out about this? I’m implicated too!This isn’t just about you! They’ll take my voice away, and have you killed.Didn’t you learn anything from what happened to your parents? To all of you? Do you want them to kill you and take my voice away?

Velouria shakes her head furiously, stepping towards Selim again, reaching for her pleadingly.

SELIM: No! You can’t do this! Didn’t you learn anything from what happened to your parents and their friends? To you and the rest of the kids?You’re selfish and stupid if you think you can do this, just like your parents and all their friends!

Something shifts in Selim. Selim rushes towards the wall and starts ripping down the painting frantically. Velouria screams NO soundlessly, and tries to stop Selim, but Selim pushes her away, hard.

They stand apart for a moment, Selim is still holding the ripped papers in her hands. She is enraged, while Velouria is desperate and teary and angry.

SELIM: You’re the taking the pledge, and you’re getting the surg– therapy.

Velouria stares back at her defiantly for a moment, then races out of the room.

SCENE SEVEN

Zulal wakes up next to their lover. Their eyes dart immediately to their computer screen, which is dark, then it lights up, and it says “technology failed, Velouria’s paintbrush” or something. They get up and put their coat on and leave.

SCENE EIGHT

Velouria is sitting outside her house, upset. Zulal approaches her and hands her another package in newspaper. They look at each other. V notices the symbol on Zulal’s neck too. She hides the package in her coat and goes inside.

SCENE TEN & ELEVEN

Alleyway scene. Velouria following flower trail. Approaches studio door. Zulal opens it to greet her.

Velouria is sitting with her eyes closed, calm, meditating. Cut to screen with intricate flower image forming, she is controlling and creating it with her mind. Her powers have progressed. Cut to time lapse of people buzzing around in the studio.

Special thanks to the Canada Arts Council for supporting this project:

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