Director Samantha Whittaker tackles sex, masturbation, couples and their relationships in her latest film, Scenes of an Adult Nature, which was screened as part of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles at Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood, CA. Learn about Whittaker's project, her inspiration, goals and lessons learned.
Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you've been working on it.
We were actors and we were feeling frustrated about not having control so, we wanted to make a movie. We then researched grants and realized we would be waiting forever to do this film if we took that route. So instead, we went on the more colorful journey of funding it ourselves. We moved out of our apartments and into one tumbledown little room in an illegal squat in North London, which we shared with eight others. We used this time to explore ourselves and figure out what we wanted to write about. We watched a lot of films, we read a lot of books and saw a lot of plays. But mainly we had many long conversations that will probably form the basis of all the films we make in the future. One of the conversations really fired us up - one of us felt absolute truth was essential to a good relationship. The other felt it was ultimately harmful. The idea spun out from here.
We started because we really wanted to explore this answer for ourselves. How honest are we in our relationships and at what point does truth help and at what point hinder our relationships? Then, we got curious about how this operated in other peoples relationships. So we interviewed over fifty people about sex -and learned a great deal! Ahem. Sometimes more than we needed.
What we ultimately found most creatively rousing was that within a relationship, discussing waking fantasy was fine, and fantasy dreams while asleep were fine, but that couples never discussed their sexual masturbatory fantasies and yet, almost every person we interviewed had them on a regular basis.
This might seem sordid when taken out of context, but the larger issue was, "How much of the whole of ourselves do we bring to our relationships." We were interested in the psychological implications of our fantasies on our own psyche, the psyche of the relationship and further still, on our collective societal psyche at this point in history.
And the underlying question seemed to be - can we ever feel fully loved and accepted by our partners if we never feel fully seen?
Once we knew our theme, we gave ourselves one month to write it, and one month of pre-production. From the day we decided on our theme, we knew we would be shooting in two months, come what may. And it was one fun adventure!
Is there anyone you'd like to thank for helping out with this film?
Everyone who worked on the project, especially anyone who gave their time for love not money.
The guy in a leather jacket in the café in Islington who was our first interviewee (I don’t think we even got your name?). Had you not given us such a frank, engaged response to our questions and our project we may never have continued.
How does it feel to have your film part of the NewFilmmakers Screening at Sunset Gower Studios?
Silly question. It is extremely exciting. It’s quite the smooth operation.
What inspires you?
Great theatre. I moved to America after seeing Steppenwolf do Tracy Lett’s August Ossage County.
Darwin is inspired by Angelina Jolie.
Who are your influences and who do you admire?
Lots of the great playwrights. Recently, Tracy Lett’s, Patrick Marber and Mike Bartlett. With this project, we were greatly inspired by the writers, sociologists and researchers who bought discussion of sex into the public Parlance. Nancy Friday, Kinsey, etc.
What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?
Work with people you like.
If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?
Anyone who inspires us with their talent and who we laugh with while creating great art. People with hard working attitudes and generous spirits. Actors who are good at taking direction. People who can make a good cup of tea and give a good shoulder massage. We are usually doing this for each other. In fact, now that I write this, I think this might be the basis for our collaboration.
What is the toughest experience you've ever had to overcome?
Well Darwin used to be a doctor so he is used to incredible challenges.
Myself, I sometimes I find the huge ordeals are easier because you shift into another gear. Sometimes it’s the small things that discombobulate me disproportionately.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?
Sam Jones who helped us with casting was told by a famous poet ‘never apologize, never explain.’ Which is great advice she duly attempted to bestow upon me. I nodded dubiously and then proceeded to apologize and explain my way through the shoot.
Jeff Perry of Steppenwolf fame, (who I did eventually work with) used to always say ‘hold on tightly, let go lightly.’ I have done better taking on board this advice.
What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?
Know what stories you want to tell and then move towards others who want to tell those same stories
Where can we expect to see you next?
Darwin is playing Peter in a huge forthcoming Bible Mini Series. Yay, sexy bearded Darwin wearing a sack. I am playing a recurring character called Nell in Touch for FOX. We are both finishing up those at the moment. We are shooting our first feature over Christmas. And our film will be appearing at major festivals in Barcelona and London this month too….Hurray.
Let our readers know where they can find more information about you and your projects:
Anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks for the interview.
Want more info?
Visit the NewFilmmakers LA Official Website at www.NFMLA.org for more information on screenings, tickets and more.
About the Author
Formerly an editor at Demand Media, writer at Citysearch, The Examiner, LA Youth Newspaper and proofreader at The Los Angeles Daily News, Christy Buena decided to start Disarray Magazine because she missed writing what she wanted. From hiring writers, to contacting publicists and making assignments, Christy is responsible for the editorial strategy of Disarray Magazine. Get to know the team of talented contributors.
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