While brainstorming and working with the color brown in mind I decided that I could create a character that I had played in previous short films - Señor Hufroin. Señor Hufroin is sort of a detective in the realm of "surreal phenomenon." The character is influenced by Salvador Dalí, the Surrealist. Part of what defines his character is his old brown hat. Eventually it became clear that the chapter would be influenced by Dalí and that era in which he had influence, at the turn of the 20th century, the 1920s and 30s. At first this meant the room would have a lot of wood, but after finding a nice roll of wrapping paper that was basically made of paper bag type of non-bleached brown paper with black lines printed on it, I decided that it would be the black lines that guide the design of the room. I played with the idea of Victorian looking interiors which would have been nice to point to my life lived in San Francsico but then as I thought of how to incorporate the ceiling into the design, I came up with a motif influenced by the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, a contemporary of Dalí, only older.
I have a photograph of my grandfather donning a hat and I decided that this piece of family history should be used so I include the photo in a couple of shots. These little details help to build the autobiographical aspect of Suburban RED. My grandfather was born in Mexico. Dalí is Spanish, and the natural question was "Where is my Native American heritage reflected?" This is what "Chicano" is about. Chicano calls attention to the indigenous roots of the Mexican American. This, I decided would inform the character. He would dress up as the Señor Hufroin character but was basically a Chicano man. As with much of Suburban RED the autobiographical story is told through the mise en scene. In a sense - written on the walls.
NATIONALISM AND ACTIVISM
The Mexican flag on the wall of the character's room becomes a marker of cultural pride as does the United Farm Workers UFW flag. It was in the 1970s that me and several members of my family would join in actions like pickets and marches to support the cause of the United Farm Workers and we would carry these flags. Señor Hufroin becomes a character within a character. The Spanish surrealist played by the Chicano artist - something I would know a lot about as Dali was a hero of mine through my teen-aged years into young adulthood.
FANTASY - THE FINAL CHAPTER
Suburban BROWN is the final chapter of Suburban RED, the final dream before the epilogue. In ways it is the most fantastic, yet, as a mantra throughout the creation of this chapter I would say to myself "The death of fantasy." This chapter would be about the separation between the fantastic and realism. The fantasy aspects of the story would be happening as a parallel reality that does not cross over into the character's reality until the ending.
The video camera that I use in this chapter as a prop is actually the first video camera that was purchased in my family. This was in 1982 and it was the state of the art consumer home video VHS format camera which connected through a cable to a VCR deck, or later, a recorder pack that would slide off of the main deck and be strapped on a shoulder. The little viewfinder was black and white though the video was in color. Almost over night this technology replaced Super 8 film as the home movie format.