Ashley/Amber tells the story of a college student named Ashley who becomes an antiwar activist after her soldier boyfriend is killed in combat. However, she receives attention for her views only after she is recognized as the star of a pornographic video.
Through character driven narrative, I aim to explore two main themes that have been the subject of both my artistic and academic work throughout college. First, my film probes at the intersection of gender, sexuality, and fame: how women are portrayed on the screen, in the media, and in the broader American psyche; what it takes for a woman to be recognized by the culture; and the control one has to manipulate these cultural tendencies towards different ends.
Second, my film examines the nature of protest activism and utopian communities (Ashley decides to speak at a rally after befriending a group of students who live in a cooperative house), wondering whether these practices are largely nostalgic artifacts of the sixties or whether they are viable methods for personal and social transformation. I am interested in the contrast between the freespirited mythology of communal living against today’s ultra-connected digital reality. How does the experience of viewing something online, where one is physically alone but mentally in a shared virtual space (multiple internet users simultaneously watching the same thing), differ from the experience of living communally in a shared physical space?
Film presents an opportunity to explore these ideas in a way no other medium can. These themes serve as a backdrop to the narrative; the characters interact with these issues and questions but are not defined by them. Film is powerful through its gift of empathy; film enables the viewer to vividly experience someone else’s world, both inner and outer.
By placing the viewer in Ashley’s world, I hope to enlarge their perspective on these themes. I do not intend to explicitly resolve any of these issues; I have no specific message (beyond perhaps being antiwar). My goal first and foremost is to tell a good story, but perhaps in doing so I might lead my audience to reflect on some of these questions.