Cari A. Hopson
Cari A. Hopson is a writer, director, and amateur filmmaker (See Jane Shoot Films). For The Body Project, Cari is creating a new piece investigating BLACK BILE.
Having been a part of a few of Storyhound Theater’s productions, I was intrigued when asked to participate in The Body Project, especially in the form of film which is my true passion but something I don’t get to do enough of. Not knowing much about the project other than that it is based on the four humours of the body (phlegm, black bile, yellow bile, and blood), I attended the kickoff where we were to draw which humour we would be working with. When presented with the four cards from which to choose, I hesitated a bit to see if any of them called to me. And one did….black bile, associated with the melancholic temperament. I was pretty excited as this is the humour I most associate with in a personal and creative sense and was what I had secretly hoped to draw.
Before I embark on any creative endeavor, I thoroughly research my subject, cramming every little bit of knowledge I can into my brain and using that to map out what I want to convey through imagery or words. My research on melancholia revealed just why I connect so strongly to this particular temperament. I’m certainly no stranger to melancholic feelings; I’ve suffered from severe depression since my pre-teen days, escalating to suicidal ideation in my early 20’s. It wasn’t until I was 25 that I was properly diagnosed as bipolar, a mental illness that perfectly encapsulates the melancholic temperament.
“Melancholies have a very sensitive emotional nature; feelings dominate their being. Sometimes moods will lift them to extreme highs; at other times they will be gloomy and depressed.”
In reading further about the characteristics of melancholics, I discovered more similarities to my own personality:
“The defining feature of a melancholic attitude is perfectionism. Their generally dour demeanour comes from their inner struggle between an imperfect world and a desire for perfection. Many melancholics wish to learn and to understand, to know the details of every little thing, because to be ignorant is to stray from perfection. Their interests and tastes are picked carefully, and they give a lot of attention to each one, and hold them close to their hearts, rather than having many fleeting interests that change quickly and often. Melancholics are very emotional. They are moved deeply by beauty, and by distress. They are very easily hurt, because of their perfectionistic tendencies.”
Yep, this describes me perfectly. But being a melancholie isn’t entirely bad. There are several good things about this temperament as well. Melancholics are very empathetic and creative individuals, often releasing their emotions through some sort of art. In fact, physicians in the 17th century believed in treating melancholia through the practice of dance and song. My creativity has always been like a life line to me in my struggles with mental illness and played a crucial role in my eventual emotional healing. At age 34, I finally learned to love myself as I was (certainly not perfect but that is ok by me) and take control over my illness. A whole world of beauty and excitement opened up to me and even though the bottom still drops out on me at times as I continue to cycle through moods, I know what I’m fighting for: that profound feeling of peace and contentment in life as it is.
These are the feelings and emotions I want to capture in my work. Not just the sadness and despair of melancholia but also, the deep feelings of happiness and appreciation for life. I want to give the message that healing is possible. As I’m a very visual person, images were already popping into my head. After finding a music track that encapsulated each of the emotions I wanted to convey, I was able to visualize more content and begin putting together a loose narrative and thematic elements. Listening to the song over and over helped me make some final decisions on imagery and develop a shot list, based on the three distinct parts of the song. From there, I put together a shooting script to organize the shots and maximize my production time. Once the shoot is completed, the shot list will help me organize the various elements during editing. At the end, I’ll have a four minute short film for my contribution to the Body Project.
Coming up with a title for this little work of art was the easy part. ‘Expunged’ means “to strike out, erase, obliterate, to efface, wipe out, or destroy”.
I can’t wait to present it to the world on March 2nd and see what my fellow artists have produced.