Monday, July 5, 2010

My Life as a Sleazy, Low Budget Moviemaker

Joking, but that’s kind of how I feel sometimes proceeding on my latest movie. It’s a monster movie featuring some exploitive elements (namely nudity, gore and sex.). The gore isn’t really a problem for most, but the nudity and sex are fast becoming big issues.

This is a super-low budget indie, so the actors are being paid at a pretty low scale. The amenities are minimal and the shoot days can be very rough. While I treat everyone with dignity and respect. I’ve worked before on other productions at this level where people (cast and crew) were treated horribly.

Imagine for a second you’re a struggling actor. You know what’s going to be required of you (the nudity), because it’s been discussed before hand. However, you get to set and it’s not quite what you expect. There’s no huge crew or film equipment. No huge lights or catering trucks. The camera's a small HD CAM. A micro-budget set could often what most people imagine a porn set looks like. It can be a very uncomfortable situation. (Side note: actual porn sets are quite nice/or so I’m told.)

While our productions make every effort to keep everyone happy and comfortable (we have good food at least), it’s really hard on such a low budget to make sure that everyone's comfortable. Then on top of everything else, I have to ask certain actors to do sex scenes.

So why do it? Why not scrap these scenes?
1. I have a financier and distributor that want (require) these scenes.
2. I don’t want to sacrifice my vision.

Yeah, I said it, vision. Yes, on one hand this is an exploitive horror flick, but it also has artistic merit. The whole movie is a meta-comment on low budget horror and movie-making in general. These scenes serve to enforce the movie’s themes. For example the 1st scene, a fairly gratuitous sex scene and murder, is from the “movie within a movie.” I threw in every horror cliché I could think off, including the black man dying 1st and gratuitous nudity. The very point of the scene is its gratuity.

Then there are two similar scenes later in the movie that take place in reality. They are meant to echo the 1st scene, but are presented in a more tasteful manner. There’s no actual nudity. But, they are still sex scenes. I even put extra effort into creating a complex character that most actors would want to play. But I’m still having difficulty casting these roles. No matter what my intentions are I still have to ask under-paid actors to simulate sex under uncomfortable circumstance.

As my budgets go up hopefully this will be less of an issue. I guess we’ll see.


  1. I heard of this article earlier this year that basically said "sex does not sell." The article is on CNN here: So, there is an argument to every belief:) -Mike

    PS I think you should switch to a three column blog. They are easy to find.

  2. I understand the dilemma but at the same time, if I were a struggling actor and I came across this, I think it would all be a part of developing myself and see it as a great opportunity. But then again, I'm not an actor, so I guess my judgment really doesn't matter.