Hiscox Filmmaker Blog – Everybody Does It
What inspired you to come up with the idea for the film?
Everybody Does It was inspired by my real life. I went to Catholic grade school and high school. My girlfriends never talked about masturbating and I thought it was something that girls didn’t really do (my guy friends talked about it pretty openly). Learning that masturbation is a normal and healthy part of female sexuality was a big deal for me. I found it all very embarrassing and therefore hilarious so I decided to write about it.
How do you relate to your characters or subjects?
Claire is an exaggerated version of myself, so I relate to her a lot. I was so squeamish about masturbating and the idea of talking to people about it (much less making a film about it) made me feel very vulnerable and scared. I also relate to her active and somewhat neurotic imagination. The two roommates are also based on two guys that I used to live with and Jazmine, Claire’s friend, is a mix of two of my close friends.
What aspect of the story changed the most during writing and production?
When writing, I expanded the story so that Claire went on more of a journey and encountered funnier obstacles. In production, we captured everything in the script, but in the editing room I ultimately made a lot of cuts to make the film tighter and keep the story moving. The stuff I cut was mostly comedic bits or characters’ backstories/anecdotes.
What influenced the visual style of your film?
Although Everybody Does It is a comedy and has some fantastical moments I wanted it to feel very real and relatable with a similar visual style to Lena Dunham’s Girls.
What was the most courageous decision you or your crew made during writing and production?
Probably the subject matter. Every time I told people I was making a movie about a woman masturbating for the first time, it took courage just to say it because the subject matter makes people uncomfortable. By the time I got on set, I was totally comfortable with the subject matter so I could focus on getting the shots we needed. It wasn’t until I premiered the film that those same nervous feelings came up again and I found myself thinking, “Oh shit, am I really about to act out this embarrassing story in front of a whole audience?” As soon as I heard them laugh, I relaxed because I knew they were with me on the journey.
Were there any risks that you faced during writing/production and how did you find a way to embrace them?
We had to shoot without permits for some of our exterior shots so that was risky and a little scary. We kept our crew to a minimum for those scenes and only did a couple of takes for each shot. Luckily the actors that I cast in those scenes were very good and took my direction very well.
What risks does your story take?
I decided to tell the story in a very grounded, truthful, and vulnerable way. With a subject like masturbation, it is tempting to go for the joke or make it raunchy or shocking, but I didn’t want to let the audience off that easy. Female sexuality is complicated, especially because it wasn’t openly talked about for so many years. For many women, exploring your sexuality is scary and uncomfortable. So while I wanted the audience to laugh at the comedic moments, I also wanted them to feel the emotional struggle that Claire goes through, which is risky because it’s awkward and uncomfortable.
How would you encourage others to tell their story or manage through the process of screen writing or film producing?
TRUTH. Whenever I was struggling with writing Everybody Does It, I always went back to the truth of the story, whatever real emotion I felt or kernel of truth that inspired me to share the story in the first place. If it scared me, that was a good sign as it was probably exactly what I needed to dig deeper into.