Thursday, November 28, 2013

What I'm exploring with "Connection"

I'm often asked that question, or something like it. Why are you making this film? Well, it's a question all filmmakers should ask themselves long and hard before they jump into a film. What does this film truly mean to me? Is it something that needs to be made - i.e. am I adding something fresh and meaningful to the cinematic landscape or is it just more movie detritus clogging up the distribution pipeline?

Good questions. But I think most people are really asking me what personal issues I have that would make this film relevant to me. They don't ask me straight up like that, of course, but that is the subtext of their question when they ask "Why are you making this film?" Am I a swinger? Am I interested in the lifestyle? Do I have intimacy issues? Sexual issues? Am I just a horn dog or kinky bastard?

They often think I'm making porn. But obviously, I'm trying to explore something more than just sex in this dynamic. Hence, the title "Connection". But I do feel there is a lot to explore in the sex itself. Sex is a very powerful and complex cinematic metaphor, because it is such a hot button topic for psychological, social and spiritual reasons. Even porno, as superficial and direct as it is, speaks volumes about who we are individually and culturally. The reasons it (or any individual pornographic act within a porn film) stimulates us, reviles us, or leaves us indifferent says a lot about our beliefs, choices, preferences, fears, fetishes, issues and more.

I want to make a film that holds a mirror up to ourselves in a similar way, albeit in a more complicated, nuanced, artistic and multi-dimensional way than a typical porn film. What really interests me are relationships - and what role sex plays in its connective tissue. I was in a monogamous relationship for nearly 17 years - 15 of those years married. There was so much of that relationship that was NOT about sex. Yet, our sexual dynamic was always around us, defined us and, ultimately, destroyed us. And when that relationship ended, so did I lot of my rather traditional thinking about relationships. However, I have yet to discover some new, ideal paradigm. I guess it's different for everybody. But I certainly haven't found it for myself, yet.

So, I'm exploring, questioning, considering....experiencing. Letting things wash over me and listening to my reaction to them. This is what I want my film to do for people. It will be an experience. A brief journey into a very specific world. If it is a world with which you are familiar, you can look at it - and feel it - from a distanced, artistic perspective and either celebrate or re-examine your place in it. If it is a world completely alien to you, you can take a frank, intimate, physically-safe, psychologically-challenging tour through it and check yourself afterwards. Either way, the point is not to answer questions, but to raise them. To have you explore, question, consider and experience......

Monday, November 25, 2013

In the beginning, there was the idea....

So this is the first post to my blog about the journey to make my new film, "Connection". Why, how, where, when, with whom, etc., etc. And it will be linked to my "A Filmmaker's Life" blog because, let's face it, this will be my life for awhile. 

"Connection"is about swingers. Well, specifically, it takes us through a single night at a lifestyle (swinger) party as seen through the eyes of Benjamin and Melissa Hughes - who are exploring it for the first time.

The idea formed a few years ago when I met my first swingers and found myself compelled by their stories, beliefs and choices. Not for me, per se, but as a psychological, sociological and sexual phenomenon. But it indeed had me questioning my own choices and my own thoughts about relationships - especially having recently (at the time) ended a 15-year marriage.

The journey started in earnest a little less than a year ago when I decided I had to make my next film. Now. I had many ideas bouncing around in my head but this is the one that stuck with me.

Why? Because, as I said, I'm fascinated by it. Not just swingers, but the whole open lifestyle thing (they are not synonymous, in case you didn't know that, but we'll get into that eventually....). In general, I'm a student of human relationships (as are many filmmakers) and have a never-ending curiosity about how we relate to each other in the most intimate ways.

But I also wanted to further explore the aesthetic I used for my short film "Transaction"- which explored a very different sexual dynamic (a call girl and a client) in a very specific way. The film did very well out in the world and I was often asked if I had a feature in mind. No, did not see a feature emerging out of that particular dynamic. But a saw clearly how I could apply that cinematic approach to a film set in this dynamic.

That's it, for now. Starting slow. Much more to come. Curious to know what your immediate thoughts are when you first hear that I (or anyone) is making a film about swingers....