My Movie Project - A Study in Synesthesia

Who - Evan Moore-Coll, Actor/Combatant/Director. Also a photographer, home cook and avid eater. Panthers, NFL and college football fan. Shakespeare devotee and devourer of plays. BFA in Acting from Otterbein University, planning to audition for grad school in the coming years. 

Why Movie Reviews? - I see at least one movie per week, sometimes up to three, and I experience them in a unique way. I approach them as an actor, from behind the lens, and also through my synesthesia (more on that below). This combination of viewpoints means I get a strange but immersive involvement with the story each time I see a movie. My girlfriend is usually the one who catches all of my thoughts, so I think she'll appreciate my having a different outlet.

What is synesthesia? - A neurological condition where the usual boundaries between senses break down. For me, the most common occurrence is to see flashes and waves of color when I hear others speak. However, depending on the day, this can spread to just about any sound that hits my ear, and can also be triggered by flavors and smells. As I sit writing this at my computer, I hear the pitter-patter of the rain against the AC unit hanging out of my window. Rain against concrete usually elicits a pale blue response, but today it's rosy-red blips on the horizon of my sightline. I couldn't tell you why it's so different this afternoon, but I don't mind it at all. Sometimes I experience tastes, smells, and numbers in multiple ways. The number 7 (my favorite) has always been blue (also my favorite), and tomatoes constantly taste green with specks of yellow (never red). I don't understand these things, but I've learned to cherish my unique way of experiencing life. Here's a sample: 

Morning begins with the alarm going off on my watch, its sound is a pleasant yellow glow (think dandelions). I get up, and my gimpy left ankle cracks itself awake (flashes of red and yellow, kinda like small fireworks) while I walk to the bathroom. The shower turns on in a rush of green (grass), while the sound of it splattering against the tub is a muddy brown. I walk out the door, which makes a dim yellow thunk, and put in my earbuds to listen to a podcast. They all have different colors, but I mostly listen to them to drown out the dark green blasts of the subway. The walk to work is nice, and I try not to listen to anything so I can hear my footsteps (a pleasant dark blue pow). When I walk into the bakery, the rush of smells and sounds creates a symphony: baguettes (a mellow yellow), cookies (a sandy color), and scones (usually a number like 14 or 20, along with a dark green). The smells and sounds of the kitchen linger through the day, and a few of our regular customers bring their unique colors too. Slowly, the invariable rainbow of customer voices builds until I get a dull headache from the colors. A cup of green tea (which is actually a purple sort of color) helps perk me up, and a hot chocolate (dark red) with some cinnamon (gold) calms me down before I leave. I pack up my stuff, head out the door, and immediately put in my earbuds so I can avoid the sounds of an awakened city. The subway hums along, a slightly more pleasant and cheerful green, and I usually try to ignore the pangs of yelling children (usually too many colors to count) and cars zooming by (reds and oranges, think pomegranates) as I walk home. The stairs of my five floor walk-up are similar to the sidewalk from earlier (but a tad more purple mixed in), and the feeling of falling into my bed creates a pale blue cushion for me to drift away into. After a quick nap, I wake up to the same yellow glow and red cracks that I had in the morning. My dinner of beans and rice isn't too exciting, but the chorizo creates an occasional rush of green and yellow.

Maybe I'll watch a movie. Cate Blanchett's voice has always been one of my favorites (a maroon). Recently I've been binge watching all of the Mission Impossible series (Tom Cruise has a weird sort of bright orange quality). Finally, I settle on one of my all-time favorites: Star Wars Episode V. This movie ignites my synesthesia like few others, as John Williams score bounces along hitting a multitude of colors and numbers. The daunting sound of James Earl Jones' voice booms in a midnight blue, and Luke's scream is a blurry mustard yellow. 

Doug, one of my roommates, usually pops out of his room at some point so we can talk about our days (he works at the bakery too). His voice levitates between a bright purple to green, and Natalie (a college friend and roommate) has been a bright orange recently. We'll talk for a little while before it's time to go to bed, and I usually lay in bed for an hour or so before falling asleep. Rebecca (my girlfriend) eventually makes her way home, and I'm woken up not by my glowing yellow alarm, but by her uniquely metallic voice. It's a copper/bronze sort of tone, that's stayed pretty consistent through out the almost 4 years we've been dating. Very few people have ever had a metallic colored voice, so hers stands out amongst all other voices, and I can always recognize her color amongst a crowd. A quick kiss is a flash of red-pink, and we settle in to unpack our days.

That's definitely a more active day for my synesthesia than usual, but many of those occurrences happen every day at some level. It usually feels like some sort of super power, and I like to pretend it's my version of 'Spider-Sense.'

Format? - To help me organize my thoughts so that I may more accurately express them. Not only does my synesthesia affect multiple parts of my senses, but I'm an actor and a straight white man: I like to talk. When left to my own devices, I keep going until I lose coherency. Below you'll find my format for future blog posts:

UNTITLED MOVIE, DIRECTOR, DATE              

  • Character A - Red voice, Number 16     
  • Character B - Blue voice, No number                                                                                                   
  • Character C - No Color, Number 189
  • Character analysis - Who's in it, What do they want, Where are they, When are they, and Why do they want it.

Character Grade: 0/10

  • Synesthetic response - Cool/interesting images or colors, related to acting, singing, camera, or sound. Pretty much anything that creates a synesthesia related response in the movie and what it means to me.

Synesthetic Grade: 0/10                                                                                                         

  • Story Telling - How efficiently and effectively they tell the story through script, camera, sound, and effects.

Story Grade: 0/10                                                                                               


Final Grade: 0/30

A cumulative grade and response to all three factors in the review. How they interact with and affect each other, plus how much I recommend the movie.


UP NEXT: My first review will be one of my favorite classics, Godzilla 1954.