directing/conversation/sex scenes

I have been thinking about how much not to say. Explaining to my students that directing is different from conversation. A friend said the other day, “Just framing and casting is already a lot of directing.” That is a brilliant thought. That casting the actor, and then framing them, you have already made huge decisions and don’t necessarily need to “direct” the actor unless the scene needs to shift.

Just watched “Lust, Caution”. I think that Ang Lee is precise, emotional. He is a great artist. However I found the extreme graphic nature of the sex scenes a little distracting because all I could think of was whether they were really having sex. Sex scenes are hard. You go too far or you don’t go far enough. Either way unless it’s porn it’s fakery and even then it’s fakery. My favorite sex scene I ever shot is in “Angela”. I shot it from pretty far away and did no coverage. I felt like I shouldn’t be there at the time.

4 Responses to “directing/conversation/sex scenes”

  • Susan W.:

    Looks like the NYT Book Review section of 10/6/13 was wondering about the same topic: how to write about sex. I’m sure some of the same issues apply to film making.

  • Hello Rebecca, I often read your posts and frequently revisit your films which led me of course to your screenplays and novels. I recognize what you say about not having to participate, or control your subjects within the scene if they are in fact equipped with a mutual knowledge and trust with the director. Scenes fall apart very quickly even in still portrait photography if you use a completely hands on approach. The nude image suddenly becomes vacant somehow if the scene is showing the nude act as a piece of cropped broken frames showing the flesh, not allowing or trusting that the audience has a powerful imagination. I love the cinematography in your work and feel you have a sharp, sensitive eye for staging scenes. Photography and cinematography is a language that will never stop developing as long as we evolve. What a wonderful tool.

  • Monica Lanza:

    Hello Rebecca,

    First of all I apologize for my English.
    My name is Monica and I’m from Brazil. I greatly admire you, your movies and your book. Watched “Personal Velocity: Three Portraits” and loved it. “The Ballad of Jack and Rose” which is gorgeous and wonderful soundtrack. Also watched “Proof” whose script is yours and finally “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.” I read the book and watched the movie. You won me over and I have tried to watch Angela but here in Brazil does not exist. I’ve read a lot about it and would love to see it.
    About your last book I read several articles and has really wanna read but it seems that has not been released here yet. I wonder if it will be released in Brazil, when and by what publisher since Pippa Lee was released here. To finish I know that you are preparing a new movie and now I support your success and it comes right to my país. Regards,

    Monica Lanza

  • Ron:

    Dear Rebecca,
    I recently watched your very surreal film Angela and then the commentary track. You mention that the idea from the film was a couple of minor characters that a friend of yours said really popped out and seemed real. I tried to do some more digging and could find no more on this. Did you: 1) Abandon that screenplay in favor of the Angela project, 2) Was the screenplay never made into a film or 3) Is there a film using your screenplay out there? I really would appreciate a reply. Thank you, -Ron

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