Whilst trying to stay true to Howard, THE SOCRATES OF SAN FRANCISCO is far from being a straight historical biopic and will capture Howard’s essence in a rich cinematic portrait, paralleled with a journey of discovery for his daughter.
The story of the film is guided by the narration of Howard’s articles by Peter Coyote and the voice of Sarah Gossage talking to her father. The interplay between these two voices replicates the heart of what made Howard tick - the power of the written word and the art of conversation.
Animation will be a key visual component of the film. Howard is, to me, almost a mythical character and the changes he made to the world at the time hard to believe. Animation, in a hand drawn style, will play with our notion of truth as an audience - are we really to believe such larger than life tales? As well as adding layers of meaning, suggesting Howard’s magical outlook on life and providing moments for the audience to breathe and reflect, it will also provide a framework for the personal stories to equal a bigger whole; for throughout there will be a suggestion of patchwork; Sarah, the thread sewing it into a more weighty quilt..
With our interviews we have a tapestry of unique larger than life characters - journalists, writers, politicians, environmentalists, ad men and close friends/family who offer their stories about the key themes on which we focus. These interviews are supported by relevant and expansive cinematography from the Caribbean to New York, San Francisco, The Grand Canyon and Los Angeles. Audio recordings will provide another key insight into Howard - we have access to many recordings that we have of Howard’s memorable lectures, along with a poignant recording of his Eulogy.
We have discovered a superb archive of photography from the Firehouse days, taken by one of Howard’s employees. His daughter has given all rights for their use. However there are not a lot of these images - so we intend to use them very selectively - keeping the audience waiting while we play with who they think this man is before we start to make him real with photography.
Having developed a strong relationship with an expansive film archive in San Francisco (OddBall), we are approaching the use of archive film in a more abstract way - thinking more about the way Howard’s mind worked more than cutaways to specific stories. This will be supported by specific archive which relates to stories like Marshall McLuhan, The Grand Canyon & Anguilla
Alongside the visuals, the film will be bound together by a composed score that encapsulates Gossage’s freewheeling and often mischievous spirit; evocative, emotive, beautiful and funny, it will bring together Mariachi/South American and Classical music with a memorable theme, because Howard’s tastes were more akin to the 40s and 50s than the new fangled popular music of the 60s. However, at times this will be unified with modern, electronic beats, and magnified, natural sounds.