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on dialogue

Posted at 16:07 on 20 Dec 2008 by Pandora / Blake

Tags: learning curves, meta-analysis, Northern Spanking, shoot writeups

I'm a sucker for plot in spanking films. It doesn't need to be jam-packed and twisty, but the characters need to interact in a meaningful way, with discernable motives. There's nothing worse, for me, than a punishment clip which doesn't bother to explain what the punishment is for, or a "naughty girl" whose disobedience is completely inexplicable. Dialogue is one of the most efficient ways of developing character development, and the more engaged I am with the characters, the more powerful the scene is to watch.

More dialogue isn't always better - I realise the advantages of minimalism. Non-stop chattering during a punishment isn't always realistic, and silence can create intensity. In TV and film all dialogue serves a purpose; the same rule applies to the best spanking films. In real-life scenes as well as on-camera ones, it's generally a good idea to only say something if you've got something to say - talking for the sake of it will just weaken the emotional impact of the scene.

But I can get very bored watching long action sequences where nothing happens. If not dialogue, then please let's have some variation in tempo, some struggle, some unpredictable response from the spankee.

And since dialogue in most spanking films is improvised, there's a pressure on the actors to come up with something witty and interesting. If the cameras are rolling and I can't think of anything to say, does that mean that nothing needs saying and I should keep my mouth shut, or does it suggest a failure of imagination?

Last weekend I was filming with Northern Spanking, and - unusually - we only shot one film all day. The rest of the time was spent with Paul, creating classic Blushes-inspired photostories. Stills involve a very weird kind of acting. Slow-motion, silent, interspersed with off-camera asides. And yet, like moving through yoga poses, I can get really immersed in my character for stills. I'm much more likely to make myself cry for stills than video, because I have so much more time and space to imagine myself in my character's situation and work up an emotional response.

When we started shooting the film, a straightforward period maidservant punishment, I wasn't really warmed up for video. I'd been told to answer the Master of the house back, thereby earning a more severe punishment, but I've done quite a lot of historical maid roleplays and you really don't talk back. You say yes sir and yes miss and you bob curtseys and don't make eye contact and you don't say a word you don't absolutely need to until you're back downstairs and among your peers.

I was being punished for failing to make the beds properly, among other things, and beforehand I was trying to think up excuses. I decided to pass the buck and claim that I'd been shown how to do it differently, but Michael Stamp (who was playing the Master) pre-empted me with the line, "I know you know how to do it properly, don't try and tell me you don't or you'll be sacked on the spot." So I was a bit stuck, really.

I risked an outburst (of the "it's not fair!" variety) which was really quite ridiculously out of character and would have instantly lost me my job, and then during the punishment itself I really couldn't justify any further cheek. It would have been unrealistic, and I couldn't think of anything else to say. So I just reacted to the strokes, and said "yes sir" a few times at the end, and felt a bit like a failure as an actress.

When I confessed my anxiety to Lucy she reassured me that it was fine, that my character wouldn't have argued back - and Niki told me that she thought I'd been outrageously rude. I don't know if I was too submissive or too rude. I expect that a lot of the people watching the film won't be bothered either way. But as an actor it's hard to judge, sometimes, how much dialogue is enough. Films which crackle with witty banter are very satisfying to make. Quieter films can be very immersive if you've planned them that way, but if it's just that I can't think of a plausible line then I worry that viewers will lose interest.

The thing is that when I'm playing at home I'm usually pretty obedient. I do as I'm told, most of the time, and I certainly don't say much once I'm in subspace. When I'm bratting on camera my mind is constantly racing to try to provide material. It's a lot of fun, but it doesn't come naturally to me.

I know dialogue isn't the only thing that matters. If I'm watching a spanking movie I'd rather no dialogue than unconvincing or corny lines. The photography, the quality of the CP, the context, the spankee's reactions are all just as important. Non-verbal communication is very powerful, and I always try to be physically and vocally expressive - it's just as important at home, when I need to communicate my responses accurately and respectfully to my Dom but am disinclined to do so verbally, as it is when I'm working. But when I'm on camera, dialogue can seem like the most important part of my job, and it's easy to worry I haven't got it right.

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