VOICE, Director’s Statement by Sylviatoyindustries (Color/Stereo, 09:57, 2016 USA)

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Still, VOICE Director’s Statement

VOICE, A PERFORMANCE ART MOVIE was 3-year long project. Pre-production began the summer of 2013 after my homeless neighbor George’s middle of the night arguments with his voice named “Robert” woke me up every night for weeks. I cannot get back to sleep in the summer because summer is bipolar season for me and I go manic.

While I wondered as I always do by the beginning of July whether I would ever get any sleep again or instead would feel 125 mph forever, I started listening to what my neighbor and Robert were saying. Robert was angry and aggressive; George would plead with him to leave him alone and often cry, then try to fight back, and finally, as the arguments grew shorter over the passing days, by morning George would be saying over and over, “I love you, I love you, I love you.” George had won. He had coped with demon Robert and won himself back. It was a powerful lesson.

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The Cape Experiments by Sylvia Toy

THE CAPE EXPERIMENTS by Sylvia Toy (No. 1) from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

The earliest known example of “kill one’s darlings” was in Arthur Quiller-Couch’s 1913-1914 Cambridge lectures “On the Art of Writing.”: “If you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: ‘Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”

THE CAPE EXPERIMENTS by Sylvia Toy (No. 2) from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

I made the cape in these videos for my character, THE HARPY. It was quite a lot of work and took 3 times as long to complete as I originally thought it would, nearly an entire workweek. I had to consider whether the cape was a darling that needed to be killed. Now, in search of new back stories, I will be experimenting with the cape, however, following it around to discover new stories.

THE CAPE EXPERIMENTS by Sylvia Toy (07-31-2016) from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

The July 31, 2016 Cape Experiments were directed by my husband and frequent collaborator, Michael Lewis. Having never before tried to greenscreen images in real environments – especially not outdoors in San Francisco, which is so beautiful and green for an urban area – I am very pleased with the clips Mike Lewis and I shot today of “The Cape.” There are stories to be made and our experimentation will help me find some of them. I have received very provocative and helpful feedback from my network of artist-peers.

The Cape Experiments by Sylvia Toy, Second Pass (Color/Stereo, 09’30”, USA, 2016) from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

KILLER JANE, a movie in story development –

KILLER JANE by Sylvia Toy: STORYBOARD, Act One (Version 2) from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

KILLER JANE is a short feature currently in story development. Jane, the protagonist, serially dreams that she has shot & killed a man. The dream always starts moments after she commits the murder. Jane never sees her victim; but she knows he was a man who was a stranger.

Currently, I am creating backstory to establish the conflicts on which the KILLER JANE and its subtexts will be built.


I create story primarily by improvising monologues on camera while in character. For 17 years as a solo stage actor, I played scenes in which two or more characters were having a conversation. When I realized that my characters told their own stories better than I could write them, my actor took over from my sadly mediocre writer. I rarely have “block,” but I do find that I have to let a character live for a while before he or she starts telling me the story. When I had to let go of my (to-date) favorite character (an actor sadly unavailable) and, so, had to create another character as Jane’s antagonist, I had to wait for a new voice to start talking to me and tell me when to turn on the camera.

Jane and I have been living together for months. She began her life inside my head and on camera as a fairly vivacious forensics specialist. As I continued to improvise her nightmare and develop the monster who shadows her after every murder, I saw more potential for conflict is her being a straight-laced, clean living Plain Jane who doesn’t even date, let alone date strangers. As of this week, she is a Trusts & Estates attorney.

Daphne, Jane’s secretary/confidante/BFF, is Jane’s antagonist. Daphne is a go-getter who thinks she’s at least as smart as any lawyer. She hates rich people, especially Cleo, Jane’s client/confidante/BFF. Cleo is a wealthy woman with whom Jane went to school, who wants to divorce her husband with the smallest payoff that’s legally possible. Cleo treats Daphne like a servant.

In every profession, there is hierarchy; and class as well as level of education differences among people in the Law can create the kind of drama, nonsense and stuff that stories and dreams are made of. If you wondered why there’s always been so many lawyer dramas – well – or is that redundant?

Passion, inciting incidents and highly motivated characters

What I know about story can fit in a thimble, can fit in an ocean … .

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PASSAGES: Thinking out loud about character and story

Sylvia Toy PASSAGES Throne Room 1 Ⓒ 2015 bResearch.

I am forming a picture in my mind of a Prologue for PASSAGES. It is a scene of a ritual regularly performed by the King of the Gods and witnessed by his sisters. During the ritual, the King reenacts Creation as an homage to The One, the ancestor who was the first God and created the world.

I was 16 the first time I read the Divine Comedy. I found Paradise a boring disappointment. And I probably just couldn’t understand how an adventurer like Dante who did cool stuff with a cool guy like Virgil could sustain a crush on a chick who spends her afterlife staring at God all day.

I tried to read Paradise about 10 years later and still found it unsatisfying after the fire, brimstone and politics of Hell and the unfairness of Purgatory. As an older adult, every 10 years or so, I read Hell without even going on to the next two books. You can do that as a grownup without feeling like it’s cheating your education.

Sylvia Toy PASSAGES Sum'a 1st Costume-Prop Test Ⓒ 2015
It has dawned on me that in a world that The One created where evolution happens, the God who was in charge of nature – a God who starts her day by witnessing her brother ritualistically re-create the world while her sister plays the same beats the same way every time in a gong – that divine overseer would notice a change in the pattern of nature as humans got smarter and invented leisure.

Eventually, the God of nature that leisure is not the same kind of thing as the reverence and stillness of witnessing the ritual of the re-creation of the world every morning. Leisure is not their eyes are watching God, like Beatrice in paradise.

My Goddess of nature had suddenly become more complex. The story has started writing itself and leaving out some of my darlings.