Creation Narrative

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Making The Empty Mirror was a long and, at times, perilous journey. It started with a single image in June, 1987. At the time, the director/co-writer Barry J. Hershey was completing his Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. His mode of creation is to record on a dictaphone ideas and images as they come to mind.

The image that came to him in June, 1987, involved a projected image of the historic Hitler, either from newsreels or Triumph of the Will. Hitler would be speaking with great intensity and histrionic gestures; then, after a number of seconds, the camera would slowly pan away revealing a dark, dank space. Eventually the viewer would see in the semi-darkness a person, Hitler, standing next to a film projector, watching the projected image. The director found this image to be intriguing and pondered the possibility of turning this single image into a one-minute film.

(This image turned out to be the first scene of The Empty Mirror -- after the prologue -- and was the first scene that was shot on the first day of principal photography.)

However, several days later, a related image emerged. This was the start of a long outpouring of images, dialogue, themes, scenes, characters, etc. that occurred over the following three and a half year period. The outcome was a stack of thousands of sheets of paper that served as the basis for the script. (see samples at Script Idea Notes.)

This outpouring was influenced by a number of courses (see Syllabi) that the director took at Harvard University beginning in the fall of 1987. Attending courses, such as Narcissism And Literature, that related to themes in the film had a strong influence on this creative flow.

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