Film often portrays beauty salons as an urban female theater: one stage with a carefully crafted cast, whose interactions elicit precise reactions from the audience (laughter, sympathy, etc.) We see familiar faces like Queen Latifah or Sherri Shepherd playing familiar archetypes like housemother or quippy sidekick. We are invited to absorb this environment as objective observers.
For “IN THE CHAIR”, I would like to portray a different side of the beauty salon microcosm. I want to create a subjective experience for the viewer - the experience, as I know it.
Entering a salon as a new client is an intense and nerve wrecking experience. You are walking into a room of unfamiliar women, whom you must trust to with your hair – and in part, your identity. It’s difficult to feel at home in a new salon. The hairdressers are buzzing around and gossiping. People are popping in and out of the salon to chat or sell merch. You can feel the anxiety of other clients as they go through the motions of having braids put in, braids taken out, weaves being sewn, relaxers being applied, and the like. When you finally sit down with your stylist cum stranger, you feel like a job. You instantly compare her to your old stylist – “T”, who immediately welcomed you with jokes and a sincere desire to engage with you about your life and your hair, which, in the confines of the salon, seem intimately connected. This new girl does not put you at ease. Every stroke of her comb sits you up further in your seat. Every noise from the salon compels you to turn your head, but god forbid you do so and give the new girl an excuse to fuck up. As if this weren’t enough, your back is turned from the mirror, making it impossible for you to see what you look like. And as you reach your hand to feel your new coif, your stylist bats it away. You must simply succumb to the incoherence – the cacophony of the salon’s exterior, the tears of the little girl next to you, the laughter of the two stylists watching Maury, and the outcome of your hair in the aggressive hands of an unfamiliar stylist.
I want to create this experience on film. I want to root the viewer in the gaze of a young woman (Kayla, 21) who comes to a Bed Stuy salon for the first time. Through doc style camera (a la Chop Shop and Man Push Cart) the viewer will experience the ‘in between’ moments, and visually align Kayla’s confusion and nervousness. Kayla’s periphery will be limited, so the audience will see little more than she would be able to. With visual periphery limited, Kayla and the audience will have to piece together much of the environment through sound. Sound design will be imperative to this film. The conversations in the background will weave in and out very randomly. The audience will pick up multiple conversations and noises simultaneously, adding to the chaos.
- (14 days)