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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Prude Americans: Nudity in Films

I watched two European films with main characters who had body types way beyond your normal Hollywood model/action star requirements. "The Hairdresser" and "4some" were refreshing in their treatment of nudity, and a sad reminder of how far behind we are in this country in regards to being more accepting of seeing other body types in our media. I have heard some actors I know in this community talk about how much they expect to be paid to be seen nude, especially in sex scenes, and how picky they are with the projects if there is nudity involved, and concerned they are about the result of working nude in film will have on their careers. I find this paranoia just really unwarranted. Why is it a problem to be naked in a film? Why are Americans such prudes about this? Of course, we have plenty of smaller "indie" films that have nudity and odd body types, but I see very few handling it the way it has been handled in films like "Klown," and the two I mention above. And most often, odd body types in American films are there in jest, as a comedic relief rather than being the reality of the main characters. Serious film treatments where nudity is required usually involve seeing the bodies of top model-types. Maybe it's time for a more blunt and realistic use of nudity in films, and not to poke fun at people that aren't body builders or Victoria Secret types.

Being near picture lock for "What's the Use?" has been an interesting trip. I'm ready for it to be over as it has been my only real focus. As is usually the case with my projects, I've had to pick up some of the workload and so have been focusing a lot of the time on animation. All is well, as it was a time for an After Effects refresher. But it reminds me again of the need to simplify the process so I can truly be a director and delegate and manage more of the vision, rather than handle the work all the time myself. It is fine to do this, as the director should always understand the processes involved, but if she or he is the one doing the majority of the work, then how are they accessing the talents of others to serve the larger vision of the film itself? A director should try to keep as fresh a vision as possible of their work, but the more time they spend key framing, or creating assets in Illustrator, or editing too much of the work, then what sort of objectivity remains? Once it is gone, you are at the hands of the hundreds of mismatched opinions on the work once it's ready for review, and unclear of where your true voice has gone for it. You cannot make a work try to please every person that sees it. It is impossible. You can only know what works for you and what is either strengthening or weakening your vision. My learned lesson: simplify, so that I can keep my idea for the work fresh and exciting for myself.

Let me leave you with some work of a great photographer I saw recently here at the Harry Ransom Center. The Magnum Photos collection. These are just a few from the work of photographer Jim Goldberg.  The subjects of these photos wrote on the photo they saw of themselves. I'll let his work speak for itself otherwise. But I encourage a deeper look.