I have just completed a new short film entitled The Mystifier. It was made after research into Pick Up Artists and, more broadly, Men’s Rights Activists. Therefore, it features difficult and emotive subject matter.
Initially, early drafts of our script centred on the private life of the central character (the self proclaimed ‘Mystifier’). But we quickly realised that the details would involve too much speculation. There was a danger that the events of the film would rely on a pop-psychology sketch of the kind of man a PUA would be. We were not prepared to do this because we believed it would make the film too one dimensional, rendering the character too black and white.
So we decided that the PUA’s own words should form the centre of the film, based on the findings of our research. This would be interspersed with mere hints of what is happening to him behind the scenes, when he is not on stage performing as The Mystifier (a private phone call, getting ready before the show, etc.).
This results in the film being formally and thematically challenging. It means that the audience is confronted in an aggressive way, faced with the rhetoric of the PUA. Formally, it makes the film a companion piece to a previous film we made – Irvin.
In Irvin, which we constructed out of research into sex offenders, the film is composed almost entirely out of a talking head. Irvin directs his talk at an audience just out of frame, mirroring the audience watching the film at home or in a screening space. The Mystifier is similarly shot and edited – but with more diversions away from the central character’s public performance, resulting in a much noisier, more boisterous film.