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52 Tuesdays - halfway through!


We are halfway through our feature film 52 Tuesdays (we shoot every Tuesday a script that's set every Tuesday for one year). That's 26 weeks of our 52, that's 6 months of our year. I thought I'd mark the moment by asking fellow Closer filmmaker Matthew Bate to ask me 5 difficult questions.  Why? Because I felt compelled to put myself out there and because I knew he would ask hard questions. He doesn't know much about the film, he's been busy working on other things, but he knows something about us and our process. Here are his questions and my answers blurted out late night (on a Wednesday). Happy halfway.

M: How do you direct a scene with 16 year-olds having sex and make it feel real?


S: A mix of:

Talking through with them what it's about and what you see as happening.

Being very open and not glossing over things.

Being open to what they bring, what they want to share of their experiences.

Seeking different ways in for each of them - sometimes that's talking about the sensation of a hot bath; sometimes it's asking them to remember their own moments in their heads that are sexual; sometimes it's just giving them really specific physical directions.

Being playful in a rehearsal room, letting laughs happen, being honest about your own feelings, but setting up really clearly exactly what they need to do so there are no surprises on set at all. That doesn't mean they don't sometimes bring something new on set, but they aren't ever asked to go further than in rehearsal.

Sometimes I tiptoe around too much and that's shit. Sometimes I do it badly and just giggle. So do they.


M: How do you get permission from their parents?

S: Varies. With some it's been a really straightforward process and any discussion being had is just between them. With others we have done a lot of talking and listening. We have been very lucky with the parents we have who all at times have asked difficult questions and questioned us a lot, but are ultimately trusting of the film and us and their kids (who are all very excellent). There are things that some of them are uncomfortable with and it's particularly difficult when it's a story that isn't mapped out and scripted at the beginning, so there is always a negotiation of some sort between the actors and us and their parents.


M: Do you think you have taken every risk you could have to make this the best film possible?


S: No. Although I like risk, there's the real world and everyone's different lives and my own personal shortcomings. I work in a way that is I think fairly accommodating to the people I work with.  Sometimes that means you don't push as hard as you could (or maybe should).


M: When and why have you compromised while making the film?

S: It's the tiptoeing - to some people the things I have asked for may seem full on but I have often not asked for what I want for fear of making someone uncomfortable. I compromise on $$ all the time - we can't have the best camera or a bigger crew or equipment we want. I compromise my life a lot to make sure I can fit in with everyone's schedules and still get the rehearsals we need to make the film and of course I've compromised the film at times for the sake of my other life.

Mostly I've compromised to make other people happy or more comfortable. I'm not one of those directors who can just ask for what they want/need all the time and we don't have a structure that allows for that.


M: Can you predict now how many stars will David and Margaret give it each?

 S: Classic. Um... I can't tell how it will actually be as a film.  I hope Margaret says 4 stars and David 3.5. Of course I want 5 star reviews from each, but it's not a very polite film, nor a very classic film so I would be pushing my luck to even get these numbers, let's face it, or maybe to even get a review - that would take a national release and we don't necessarily have that. Fingers crossed.


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