When I first read "What Are You Wearing?", the GQ article I based my first feature Easier with Practice off of, I knew what struck me about it right away. I wanted to do a serious, uncomfortable and strange phone sex scene and do it without compromise. What I ended up with is certainly the most complex scene in the film, and one that affected nearly every step of making the film. However, it is the scene I am the most proud of in the movie and the one that I think reflects my original intentions of making the film the strongest.

Writing - Writing this scene was certainly one of the most challenging aspects for me. I'm an incredibly shy and relatively private person, so sitting down and writing some nasty sex talk certainly didn't come easily to me. I remember I was writing in a small 'office' which was really a retired copy closet in a friend’s office. It had no windows and no one was ever in there with me. I remember knowing I had hit the right notes in the scene when I looked over my shoulder, embarrassed to make sure no one was reading it, even though I knew no one was there. That was the exact vibe I wanted to bring to screen... I shouldn't be watching this, but I am.

Pre-Production - Early on in the storyboarding phase, I knew I wanted to pull the scene off in one long, ten minute take. I wanted it to be a bold scene and we needed to do something bold and challenging to ourselves visually in order to enforce that. We couldn't afford stages, which would've made a shot like this much easier, so once we had our location, we actually had to tear down the bathroom wall to make room for the dolly tracks and crew.


Production - When it came time to shoot the scene, Brian Geraghty and I had actually never rehearsed it before. Whenever we were talking through the script, we'd get there and both just kind of brush past it. One time Brian assured me he was prepared for it and didn't want to rehearse it, just go for it. I trusted him, and by now we were actually on our 3rd week of production, so there was a lot of comfortability with the crew. Still, I wanted to respect the sensitivity of the scene so I made sure no one was in the room that didn't need to be... including me. We ran monitor wires to the hotel room next door, but otherwise it was just Brian, the boom op, the DP/operator, the dolly grip and the actress reading the lines. We got the 'long push' look by combining a small dolly push that at the end of, our DP started zooming with a lens we specially ordered just for that scene. We ran the first take and I had no idea what to expect. It worked. Gloriously, actually. It was that one rare moment you get on set where you say 'this is exactly right, each piece of the puzzle is exactly as I imagined.'

Post Production - One of my proudest moments of making the film was when we were on-lining it (where they conform your edit decisions to the original high-resolution camera files) and I got a call from our post production supervisor. "There's a problem with the timeline, it's saying that there's a 10.5 minute take here'. I happily told him there was no problem and that more than a 10th of the film was, in fact, one edit.

Release - The scene also proved to be the most crucial in terms of our release. In the states we got an NC-17 rating, the equivalent to pornography, for 'a scene of explicit language'. We are, as far as I can tell, the only film the MPAA has awarded this rating based solely on language. I can't say it didn't put a grin on my face. Whatever discomfort they felt while watching the scene that justified this rating only affirmed I'd achieved at least a fraction of what I had intended when I first wrote it. Brian always jokes 'I prepared for that scene my whole life'. While it's a funny statement, it definitely rings true on more levels than one personally.  As a team, we stuck to the vision of the scene and it paid off. It's the scene I feel the most confident about and the one that I want to take motivation from creatively in moving forward with my next film.

EASIER WITH PRACTICE is available on DVD and VOD through AX1 Films.