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1. Do you think there’s a chance that acting in your own films perhaps
compromises your skills and visions as a director?
A chance? Definitely. But that implies there are skills and visions to
compromise. But in this film’s case, I’m not the only unlikely casting
choice. My character’s girlfriend is played by my wife, and one of the main
characters, Neil, is played by my childhood friend who’s never acted before
in his life. My goal was to naturalize sex and offbeat relationships:
whether it be awkward but never-talked-about childhood experiences,
freakishly long-term young couples, balding 24-year-old virgins, or
homophobic gay guys, I need it to feel honest and relatable. For better or
worse, the relationships and dynamics you’re seeing on the screen are real.
Nina (Jess) and I have had those very arguments before. Keith (Neil) has
really melted down on us. I didn’t cast myself because I’m a good actor
(the jury’s taking their sweet time on that), I casted myself to join my
friends in saying something unique in front of the camera. Pragmatically
speaking, I also find that in a low budget film, it’s useful to model for
your actors and crew what you’re willing to do on screen and to set a tone
in your own performance. Will I cast myself in the next film? Absolutely
not. Did it make sense for a movie with my name in the title? I think so.
2. To how much of an extent are the characters in your films reflective of
both yourself and the people around you?
It’s not as though each scene was lifted directly from life – but the
characters themselves, and the emotional through-lines were lifted directly
from life. As I mentioned, Keith and Nina (Neil and Jess) literally play
themselves (though Keith has never been arrested for being fondled by an
underage girl – at least, not yet. He’ll be at the festival, so the fest
should have at least one cop on duty). The gay couple is also lifted from
some close friends, who I interviewed and took notes with for several days
when drafting the characters. The goal, again, was to build an emotional
honesty, free of the inflated drama in narrative films, and free of
political agenda. It’s just as natural a representation of my life and
ideas about relationships as I could throw up on a screen. My character and
I diverge slightly – my character is making a lewd film for the internet,
and the effort and struggle my character goes through is based on my first
experience making a feature (a Troma acquired B-film called “I Need to Lose
Ten Pounds”). My character (Frank, as opposed to Frankie) is at more of a
crossroad in his life, a little lost and searching for meaning in bizarre
artistic areas, and his ideas are pretty well aligned with mine, but he’s
more dissatisfied by his station in life than Frankie is.
3. If you were to critique your own films, what are your weaknesses?
I’m not particularly intelligent, talented, or attractive.
Visually speaking, up to this point my films try to stay out of their own
ways. I normally believe strongly in the ideas of my films (you kind of
have to in order to dedicate years of your life to a movie that may never
make you money), so I try to put dialogue, characters, comedy, and in this
film’s case, a little bit of drama, at the forefront. I don’t have very
many quiet or purely visual moments, though there are several in Sexually
Frank I’m very proud of. I’m trying to flex that muscle, and plan to on
4. Where did the concept for Sexually Frank come from?
Read my blog on the subject here.
The whole filthy story is available in detail.
The long and short of it is I was living in LA, taking a chance on a film
career at the end of college, and I was starting to ask myself a lot of
serious questions about my goals as a filmmaker, and I remembered that I
already was a filmmaker back in Boston, Massachusetts, making movies with
people who love me enough to make it possible. I thought it was appropriate
to create a sort of love letter to them, which turned into casting them
directly, and using sex as the framework by which we investigate the most
personal corners of these characters. I think talking about sex with
people, especially strangers, is one of the fastest and most exposing ways
to get to know someone, and that’s what you see in this film.
5. Where did the big toe thing come from?
My character makes a video sketch with a simple premise: he’s going to
insert his toe into a prostitute’s ass. I knew that I wanted my character
to make something absurd, indefensible, and devoid of intelligence, and yet
take the effort very seriously. This describes some of my early
film outings to a T. I knew I also wanted to examine how an actress might
go along with such a thing when it’s purely comedic (I mean, who can find a
toe in a butt sexy?), but that if people do construe it pornographically,
she’ll feel like a slut and resent the filmmaker. I knew it was going to
create a larger conversation about posting on social media, and how you
can’t control how you’re perceived when you put yourself into the ether,
regardless of your initial intention. A lot of this came to me when fellow
film students in college made a YouTube sketch called “VCR Sex” (VCR
in which a woman’s vagina is a VCR in front of her pelvis, and a man
inserts VHS tape from his crotch into the VCR. The actress loved how funny
it was until it ended up on porn sites. Then there was a melt down. I
thought this was a terrific comedic, dramatic, and somewhat socio-political
argument to have among the characters, and how something so stupid can mean
6. Describe the film in 3 words…
Keith Richard Sadeck. No…
Laughing. Friendship. Honesty.
7. What’s your favourite film of all time?
BUY TICKETS TO SEE SEXUALLY FRANK HERE