Identically dressed, and with sibling-like resemblance, performance artists Trevor Martin and Kym Olsen shift between spoken word and athletic dance choreography in a collection of 29 scenes. Set in various locations--including a gymnasium, an abandoned hospital, and a trailer park circus--Martin and Olsen slip between a ventriloquist and his dummy, a seducer and his surrogate, a doctor and his patient, and synchronized dance partners. The film examines a complex social psychology--questioning the colonization of the human body for various political, medical and religious agendas.
Embracing the unique concerns of adapting a stage performance to the film medium, A Heretic's Primer on Love & Exertion is not documentation, but rather a reshaping of performative investigations into an original filmic work. Stealing inspiration from the live works of Martin and Olsen, attention was shifted in filming to the potential of interactive cinematography. Camera movement and discontinuous editing are used to transport the viewer to multiple locations and time frames, slipping in and out of narrative logic.
An example of this can be seen in the Oh! Game--a naughty version of Duck Duck Goose. Relying on chance and improvisation, the performers and camera follow the rules of this pseudo-erotic game in tandem, spinning & running on each other's cue. Like a campy game of 'spin the bottle'--the revolving camera stops on different people in a variety of locations, eventually winding itself into a blurred ecstatic frenzy.
"My own pantheon of "really good dance films" is very small but Heretic's Primer… went into the pantheon and has stayed there ever since." --David Hinton, Film Director
"In A Heretic's Primer on Love & Exertion, the carefully calibrated elements that orbit and contain the central double presence of Trevor Martin and Kym Olsen (rooms, chambers, fields and fairgrounds, colors and costumes, even a small populace) spring like phantom envelopes projected from the performance's innermost core. The stark visual clarity, precision of movement and speech, by turns joyful, mournful, dazzling, euphonic, protean, seem haunted by forces beyond the visible, captured from recesses of the mind. In the disquieting artifice of the film's symptomatology, the puppet becomes the puppeteer, the vanished horse persists in the rider. The camera spins dervish-like, and we with it, in measured ecstasy--a restless revelation of what film can be." --Matthew Goulish, Goat Island Performance Group
"…a highly-coloured picaresque world evolved from recurrent episodes of poker-faced text and task-based playfulness, with a movement vocabulary of clicks, swings, hops and jumps, linked and punctuated by a deftly rhythmic grammar of camera motion." --Chirstinn Whyte, "Reframing the Dance Screen", RealTime 89, Feb-March, 2008