Why is it that a certain song we’ve heard a hundred times on the radio is suddenly digging at our hearts, even making us cry, when we happen to catch a stripped-down, unplugged version of it with nothing but the singer-songwriter at the piano? I believe it’s because the perfect, smooth and overproduced studio version can sometimes distract from the raw emotions hiding underneath. That’s why I worked to keep my film simple and subtle. Today we are so used to seeing movies densely packed with fast action and effects. I wanted to invite the viewer to slow down and zero in on what is going on behind the eyes of one lonely woman; because to her, that longing makes up her whole universe.
The inspiration for Wink came from my godmother. On a road trip through Death Valley she casually mentioned the idea of a surrealistic story about a blonde in an unsatisfying marriage and a gold fish, set in Paris of the 70s. As soon as I heard that, I could see the whole film in my mind. Only, I wanted to set my film in the real world of 2017. Back in LA, I took a break from the other script I was working on and surprised myself by putting the entire thing on paper within three hours.
A story centered around a relationship where appearances betray the loneliness inside offered great opportunities to focus on visual details. I chose a palette of muted colors to reflect the emotions of a woman who lives isolated in her perfect nest. Since there is very little dialogue, I also placed emphasis on the sounds that become so apparent when silence dominates a relationship, as well as the music.
After 28 years of working alongside experienced directors, taking time to raise two children, having made a documentary feature and finally coming across the perfect story, I knew this was the right time to direct my own short. Wink was entirely financed by my savings, but I was amazed to see how much support I received--from friends who offered their house, let me borrow their cars, clothes and furniture, to local artists who volunteered their art. Not to mention the professional cast and crew who donated their time and their talent, enabling me to tell the unplugged version of my story just how I had envisioned it while crossing the barren landscapes of Death Valley.
I feel unbelievebly lucky and grateful. And I can't wait to do it again.
-- Monika Petrillo