In 2013, he moved to Bosnia where he is working on his M.F.A. degree in Filmmaking from the Sarajevo Film Academy’s Film.Factory.
Graeme has been creating independent films for over 15 years, and now he has decided to create a movie about ASMR.
The short description of his ASMR movie is, “A reclusive ASMR superstar invites an online date to her studio. A paranoid romance with tingles.”
The film utilizes ASMR as a central theme to explore the meaning of intimacy and trust between individuals and within society. This demonstrates a great understanding of ASMR by Graeme. Intimacy and trust are believed by many ASMR video creators, ASMR video viewers, and myself to be at the core of ASMR.
The film is almost ready, but he does need some last minute assistance to complete and launch his production.
In my interview with Graeme he shares his ASMR triggers (with one of the most poetic and accurate descriptions I have heard about what ASMR feels like), his favorite ASMR artists, his inspiration for the film, challenges with creating an ASMR movie, how funding will be used to complete and launch the production, and more.
Below are my questions in bold, his replies in italics, and an Indiegogo link so you can watch clips from the movie and also help support the completion of his production.
I believe that you have experienced ASMR since childhood. What are your ASMR triggers and sensations?
Graeme, “Paper really does it for me, page-turning or folding, but generally watching people concentrate on a task is good.
I took my bag to be mended at a little krojač [tailor] the other day and the stitcher indicated that he could fix it up quickly. I sat and waited while he threaded the needle, ran the sewing machine etc. We had no common language so there was no conversation. Just him working and my scalp buzzing like a field of drunk bees.”
When and how did you first learn about the term “ASMR”?
Graeme, “I was researching my new movie, Murmurs, and I knew I wanted my main character to be a YouTube star. So I was looking at unboxing videos, and then one thing led to another.
I’ve felt ASMR for as long as I can remember, and wondered what the hell was going on in my head, but this was the first time I’d heard anyone else talk about it.”
Do you have any favorite ASMR artists or ASMR videos?
Graeme, “Ally ASMRrequests was my introduction to ASMR videos, and she’s obviously a living legend. I really respect her approach and the way she weaves her other geeky interests into what she does. There’s something about her manner that expertly bridges this weird place between intimacy and utter foreignness where the relationship between the ASMRtist and their viewer dwells.
But lately I’ve become addicted to ASMR Alternative. The tingles aren’t so pure, but she’s funny and dark. I like funny and dark.”
What inspired you to create a film about ASMR?
Graeme, “A couple of years ago, I left England to study at Béla Tarr’s film school in Sarajevo. I became close to a lot of new friends very quickly, and also we were watching a lot of the kind of movie that takes more care over the human condition, rather than plot or special effects.
I became very interested in the idea of intimacy in life, in art and in the movies. How can we sense or share intimacy between characters on a screen? Do the characters have ‘real’ intimacy, and how about the intimacy between us and them? And how about now, when so much of our communication is channeled through screens?
So I came up with two concepts: that a YouTube star would meet an obsessive internet voyeur, and that the actors in the film would be getting to know each other for real. The first time we see Hana and Ed meet in the film is the first moment that actors Elma Selman and Stewart Lockwood met in real life.”
How many other cinematic films about ASMR have been created by filmmakers so far?
Graeme, “I don’t know of any [INTENTIONAL] ASMR fiction films, though there’s a couple of interesting documentaries in the works. I think we’re the first. But of course, there’s plenty of [UNINTENTIONAL] features, especially in the arthouse and so-called slow cinema realms.
Robert Bresson, for example, was a unique and highly-regarded French filmmaker who concentrated on the minutiae of our behaviours, and composed his films’ soundscapes from emotional memory. He would start with a scene and no sound, and just layer on the noises he imagined belonged there, instead of striving for realism. So you get these very delicate, considered audio tracks… and of course, French-language voice-over.
More recently, Cannes-winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul makes films that are also very quiet and intimate. He taught us at film.factory, and we spent a whole day walking and listening together.
Old Japanese films also seem to have very ASMR-charged soundtracks.”
What is the core plot of the film?
Graeme, “It opens with one of Hana’s videos. She’s putting on make-up and tells us she’s invited a chap she met on a dating site over to her place to cook dinner together. We get the sense that she’s a bit eccentric.
Then Ed arrives and there’s immediately a tension between them. They totally click, but something’s not right. He ends up staying over, and we see them getting to know each other, to open up. Hana likes him, but it’s clear she’s fragile. She’s not left the house for a year and a half and she has trouble trusting him.
As Ed’s behaviour becomes weirder, it begins to seem like she might be right.”
How do you plan to incorporate ASMR into the film?
Graeme, “We see substantial excerpts from three of Hana’s videos. They are like the punctuation of the film.
But then the scenes between her and Ed are also prepped for ASMR. We see them cooking together, without speaking, just chopping veg and flirting. And there’s a weird ear sex scene.
There’s no booming music track and the whole movie is all set in one room, so the whole film has a very charged, intimate atmosphere.”
What technical challenges are you having with the recording and incorporation of ASMR into the film?
Graeme, “The room where we shot Hana’s ASMR videos was super echoey. We had to put mattresses around the walls, coats over the windows, and we put this complex rig built out of blankets and lighting stands right in front of her face. It would’ve been great to use binaurals, but I think we’ve got plenty of functioning triggers anyway.
The main issue was keeping the crew alert. We spent two hours filming a scene where Hana tapes black bin bags over her windows so she can make a video in the dark. Luciano, our sound recordist, was listening to it all through three mics and headphones. When we finished the scene, it took about ten minutes to bring him back down to Earth.”
What excites you the most about this specific production compared to other films you have produced?
Graeme, “The actors. I’ve worked with Elma and Lockwood before, but never both together. As I said, the first time they met was in the middle of a scene. It was a total gamble, to fly Lockwood over to Bosnia and cast him with a stranger without doing any tests, especially when they’re the only ones in the movie. But they’re both super playful, creative performers.
We improvised the scenes from a story outline I’d written, which was also a first for me, to work without written dialogue. It means we get these great spontaneous moments as Ed and Hana – but also Elma and Lockwood – are getting to know each other. They surprise each other.
I’ve found so many gems in the edit suite that I didn’t even notice while we were filming.”
How will the funds raised via Indiegogo help you with the movie?
Graeme, “Primarily, I want our campaign to help us find an audience for the film – to spread the word about what we’re doing. We need money for marketing, and to get a good launch for the movie we need to get it to festivals, which also becomes expensive.
But the first hurdle is getting the film edited and ready for the screen. My wonderful team has given a lot of time for free so far, but when you’re shooting, you have a fixed period when everybody has to be available and working. Editing, colour correction, sound design etc. can take years if you can’t pay people to take a break from their regular work, or pay for access to decent facilities.”
What do think the future holds for the incorporation of ASMR into cinematic film?
Graeme, “I’m interested to see how Murmurs will work in a packed cinema.
For people who are new to ASMR or don’t realise the feeling they get is shared by others, I think there is an initial embarrassment at openly referring to it. This strange and pleasant physical sensation we take from strangers. So to gather in a crowded room and get thrills together may require a very open-minded audience.
On the other hand, the ASMR community (excluding some repulsive YouTube commentators who probably never make it out of their pit) are a very tight and dedicated ensemble.
In the right city, there could be an amazing film festival of ASMR fictions like Murmurs, [UNINTENTIONAL] triggers from movie history, and YouTube classics projected on the big screen. We could call it Tingledance or something.”
Click HERE to view clips of “Murmurs”, learn more about the movie, and to contribute to the campaign. And then do feel free to share the link and news about his production with your family and friends.
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