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Song Review: “Wildest Dreams” by Brandy

After the success of the first single “Put It Down” featuring Chris Brown and it’s accompanying video which premiered last week, Brandy unveiled her anticipated second single, “Wildest Dreams”. Helmed by production duo Tha Bizness and written by Sean Garrett, the track is a mid-tempo 90’s throwback finds Brandy wide-eyed and blissed out after finding a new love that is seemingly too good to be true.  “Never in my wildest dreams / did I think someone could care about me / not just the way you love me / you know I’m emotional (sometimes)…”. Her signature runs and walls of vocals weave themselves warmly around a thick bass line and lush keyboards.

The single will be released to iTunes and other digital retailers on August 28th, while her sixth studio album “Two Eleven” is scheduled for release on October 16th, 2012. The album is set to include production from Danja, Noah “40” Shebib, Bangladesh and Mario Winans, among others.

Proposed Documentary: “Here, My Dear”

January 6, 2012 1 comment

Documentary Project Proposal

Here, My Dear

Written, produced and directed by Michael Ashton

SYNOPSIS

In the United States, marriage and divorce are increasingly becoming common experiences. The former has carried a perceived of being one of the most positive aspects in life, whereas the latter is perceived to have a negative connotation.  Here, My Dear is a feature documentary thoroughly following the details of being in a marriage, the emotional journey of dissolving one and ultimately how both aspects impact children in various ways.

People marry for their own reasons ranging from legal and social to economic and religious reasons, as well as genuine love. In any case, marriage is considered to a milestone event in a spouse’s life that requires a number of adjustments. A couple beginning a union opens a chapter of togetherness into forever. Conversely, a spouse entering a divorce face a range of emotions such as (but not limited to) regret and stress to excitement and optimism. Although a divorce is irrefutably difficult for all, it is the children of the family who suffer the most. The idea that a couple can “stay together for the children’s sake” never seems to work out, often worsening the underlying issues, exacerbating tension and causing more harm than good to children who need the stability of both parents. Here, My Dear journeys to document all of these aspects and to find answers to the questions that people have about the struggles of family life.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND BACKGROUND

In the book The History of Human Marriage (1921), Edvard Westermark defines marriage as “a more or less durable connection between a male and female lasting beyond the mere act of propagation till after the birth of the offspring.” Marriages are typically recognized by the state, a religious power, or both. It is often seen as a contract or institution, irrespective of any religious affiliation but in accordance with marriage laws of the state.

As of late, almost one out of two marriages will end in divorce, many of which include one or more children. When children are involved, the immediate thought is how they will cope through this difficult period. Though the couple may be preoccupied with their quest to dissolve their union, the children are often invariably confused by how the security of their family life is now shaken. They may start to feel shame, assuming the fault that they somehow have caused their parent’s marriage (and their own stability) to crumble.

STYLE AND STRUCTURE

Here, My Dear is an observational documentary following lives in four separate arcs. It seeks to question why people get married, follow the dynamic of those that have stayed married, the emotions that come after a divorce and how children play an important factor.

Here, My Dear was named after legendary soul singer’s 1978 album of the same name, which documented his feelings about his crumbling marriage and subsequent divorce. Each story relates to a track from that album.

CHARACTERS

1. Oliver Sanchez

Anger destroys your soul. Rage, there’s no room for rage in there. Line up some place to go to be mad. It’s a sin to treat your body bad. (“Anger” by Marvin Gaye)

Oliver is an child from Lynbrook, New York. At age 11, he currently attends St. Agnes Elementary School in Rockville Centre, New York. He enjoys dance, television, science and math. Born to parents who divorced after less than five years of marriage (when Oliver was only four years old). He has a close relationship with his mother, while his relationship with his father has grown to be strained over the course of his childhood. His mother believes that his behavioral problems in school stems from being a product of divorced parents. Both parents argue often about finances for Oliver.

Interview Questions:

    1. Why do you think couples divorce?
    2. How many of your classmates have parents that are separated/divorced?
    3. Do you think your parents are better off being divorced or do you wish they were still married? Do you think they can resolve their differences?
    4. What do you think your parents think of each other now?
    5. Do your parents ask you how you feel about being an only child? Do they ask you about your feelings?
    6. How do you feel about your parents?
2. Michelle & Roger Benshoff
…cause when you look at me, I get weak in my knees. My heart won’t let me be. Won’t you help me please? I really love you. Darling, you’re so wonderful. You are so divine. You’re my heavenly dream. (“Time to Get It Together” by Marvin Gaye)
Michelle is a 5thgrade teacher from Brooklyn, New York. Roger is a train conductor for New York City transit. They have been happily married to each other for 25 years. Michelle is currently pursuing her second degree in education, while Roger is looking to start a small family business. The Benshoffs describe their marriage as “very happy and enduring” with “very, very few arguments”. She and her husband are committed to each other and to providing an excellent life for their two daughters (ages 29 and 24).
Interview Questions:
    1. What do you think has been the key to keeping such an enduring marriage?
    2. How many couples do you know that have been together as long as you have?
    3. How often do you have disagreements? How often do you make up?
    4. Can you reveal your weaknesses and doubts to your partner without fear of embarrassment, criticism or judgment?
    5. When you’re upset or angry about something your partner does/doesn’t do, do you find it easy to tell her/him about it?

3. Marcus & Nicole Baptist

Hey Anna, here’s your song. The one that I promised you all along. I knew all the time that I’d find the rhyme. Never have a fear, here it is, my dear. (“Anna’s Song” by Marvin Gaye.)

Nicole is a nurse and Marcus is an electrician engineer for New York University. The couple has been married for almost 25 years and has had two kids. They describe their marriage as “generally positive” while admitting that most of their hardships and arguing are centered on finances as Marcus feels they “are not completely secure enough to spend” the way they’d like to.

Interview Questions:

    1. How much will you spend on gifts for family, friends and each other?
    2. What hobbies or recreational pursuits do you pursue individually? Together? How often do you pursue them?
    3. How important is money to you both?
    4. Who will pay the bills and keep the checkbook? What are your reservations about the use of credit cards? When it comes to finances, do you usually agree on what to spend your money on?
    5. How often have you felt a lull in your marriage? Have you ever felt that divorce was eminent?
    6. Describe what keeps your marriage strong.

4. Jennifer Allen

(“You know, when you say your marriage vows, they’re supposed to be for real. I mean…if you think back about what you really said, you know, about, honor and loving and obeying till death do us part and all. But it shouldn’t be that way, it should…it it shouldn’t be lies because it turns out to be lies. If you don’t honor what you said, you lie to God. The words should be changed.” -“When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You?” by Marvin Gaye.)

Jennifer is a medical nurse who recently graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic University. At 57, she filed for divorced from her husband of 22 years due to increased arguments and growing dissatisfaction. Early in the marriage, her husband fathered another child during an affair. After reconciliation and jointly putting three children through college over the years, a bitter divorce was put into motion that deeply affected her.

Interview Questions:

    1. When was the moment that you knew your marriage was over? Do you think there was anything else that could have saved it?
    2. What are your greatest memories? Regrets?
    3. How do you feel about your ex-spouse now? Are both of you on speaking terms?
    4. Though the youngest of your three children is 22 years old, how do you think the dissolution of your marriage has affected them?
    5. How do you feel about marriage now? Do you see it in your future? Why or why not?

RELATED WORK

The film “One Divided by Two: Kids and Divorce” is another film that describes the conflicted feelings that children aged 8 to 18 feel when their parents dissolve their marriage. It carries an original approach with the inclusion of animation to tell parts of the stories. It is an excellent discussion starter to help parents gain a bit of insight as to what their children are experiencing emotionally.

Here, My Dear will have a similar approach, but it will also include those who are married, those who struggle with marriage and those who have recently divorced.  The film seeks to cover the emotional journey that they all go on.

Documentary Pitch: Marriage, Divorce and Children

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

In the United States, marriage and divorce are very common experiences, the former being seen as a major and positive aspect in life while the latter is perceived to carry a negative connotation. In Western cultures, more than 90 percent of people marry by the age of 50. Healthy marriages are also shown to have positive effects on physical and mental health for couples as well as children. However, an estimated 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States end in divorce. Additionally, the divorce rates for subsequent marriages are even higher than that estimate. For my documentary, I will focus on marriage and divorce and how children are affected by both.

Coming from a family where my parents legally separated when I was five and divorced when I was ten, I know firsthand what it’s like being shuttled between two parents. Although a divorce is irrefutably difficult for all, it is the children of the family who suffer the most. I remember a quote from the late singer Kurt Cobain who once said in an interview: “I had a really good childhood up until I was nine, then a classic case of divorce really affected me.” When I think of this quote, what stuck out to me was his use of the word “classic” in his explanation. He used “classic” to connect himself to the millions of children of all ages who have suffered emotionally at various points in their lives after being in the middle of a separation. I feel as if Kurt Cobain channeled some of that raw, unvarnished pain from his parents’ divorce (along with some other aspects in his personal life) into his art which is why it resonated with so many people. Similar to Cobain, I believe that many children will admit that being in the middle of a divorce is a particular event in their lives that has long lasting side effects to varying degrees.

Of course the decision to start or end a partnership determines a major shift in one’s personal life and I think it’s very much worth exploring those changes. I would like to shed light on people’s views on marriage and divorce and how both can impact a child’s upbringing. I’d also like to shed light on a child’s view of marriage and divorce, both how they feel and what their views are.