Yeah, I was concerned about that. I had never heard of that role so I thought, what is this and are we sure we need it? There have been great sex scenes shot in the history of film, we do lots of difficult things so do we really need a special role there. But actually, when I met Ita O’Brien my feelings changed. What she’s trying to do is to take away all of this fumbly embarrassing conversation and provide a really open forum where you can all talk like grown ups. What are the images that we’re trying to create and how do we go about doing it involving everybody in a way that makes them feel heard. Ita’s very practical as well. She has all these garments and padding and she’s very good at devising how to support the actors’ body weight in ways that make it look like they’re in insanely close proximity but in reality not so much. She also provides a forum for us to talk. For example, for me to be able to say, “Oh I think this would be good”, without the actors feeling any pressure to say, “Oh yes of course. I’d love to do that.”
If you’re an established filmmaker, it’s understandable if young actors feel like they want to please and say “yes of course”, and do something because I think it’s right, not because they feel right about it. It would make me anxious to ask if I felt they were going to say yes just because they didn’t want to disappoint me. Ita’s brilliant, she has a way of talking about this stuff which makes it really clear to the actors that they are central to this and that we’re all working in a collegiate way around what they’re comfortable with. And so I never felt that there was ever any pressure which was a great thing to be able to know.
Did Ita’s presence and the back and forth between the four of you lead to the restaging of any of the planned sex scenes?
Well I tend to be pretty flexible, at least around script anyway, so I move things to different locations, I change dialogue. I do all sorts of things all the way through production including on the day. So actually that fitted with me really well because Ita would suggest that something might fit better with the meaning of the scene as she’s very involved in discussing character as well. We talked about every intimate scene in advance and if it ever felt like, it would be better to do this here or this doesn’t feel like a scene that should happen in this way as written let’s do it that way, we would always make that change.
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