Posted at 20:02 on 25 May 2009 by Pandora / Blake
Lost Causes (provisional title) is the third film I've made with Roué. The first two weren't much, really. The first was back in September 2006; my fourth ever spanking film shoot and my first longer film. The producer (let's call him Jack) found us a fantastic little location - a school hall out in the country, dusty and sunlit and full of those long low benches and padded gym horses. Tom and I filmed a simple school story in very few takes. It wasn't complex, as films go. In fact, it was mostly a private D/s scene in costume with the cameras rolling. Watching it recently, I was astonished at how brutal it was. Tom pushed me as far as he thought he could, and it's shockingly severe for the context; in fact, by the time the final punishment scene starts, most pretense that this is a schoolgirl/teacher relationship has been dropped, and you're basically watching an intense punishment session between Dominant and submissive.
The second film was with the same producer, using the well-known Headmaster's Study at CP Services London. Jack was not the most organised of film professionals: we'd originally planned a naval shoot, but he didn't arrange anything in advance and called me the day before to cancel the shoot. I'd been counting on the money from the shoot that month, and talked him into going ahead if Tom and I could come up with a new story. We quickly constructed a script based on an Edwardian school roleplay we'd done a few months ago; the character Tom had played in that roleplay was actually the origin of the name Thomas Cameron.
The film wasn't bad in the circumstances, and we're both very fond of the characters and plot, but given we'd made it up on the spot and were working with limited technical resources, the results weren't stellar. Roué liked the work Tom and I were doing together and approached us about a third film; higher budget, better planned. We were both keen to have more creative control over the results of our labour, and were thrilled when Roué agreed to take us on as a director/producer team.
That was over a year ago. Since then we've gone through three scripts, two locations, and at least four budgets: the film we made last week was the result of many long hours of pre-production (and a certain amount of last-minute panic).
I knew from filming my own material that the less production I had to do on the day the better, so I mostly let Tom and the director of photography manage things on the day, while I tried to remember how to act. But there was still a lot of new stuff to cope with. I'd never worked on this scale before. We were filming with three cameras, a stills photographer, the DoP and various camera crew and sound engineers, a professional hair and make-up artist and an enormous quantity of kit. I'm not saying this to brag - Roué takes the credit, not me - but simply to try and explain how out of my depth I felt, and how many new skills I had to learn on set.
I've acted before and I've been spanked on camera before, but I've done very little filming out of sequence, which is even harder when you're ad libbing than when you've memorised a script. I've sat through my share of technical faff, but there's something special, on the second day of filming when you've had no sleep and the next and final scene contains a big nerve-wracking caning, about having to sit back down for half an hour while the director and tech crew debate, with many diagrams and waving of hands, how exactly to construct the next shot without crossing the line. I've very rarely had to shoot multiple takes of the same shot, or indeed taken lots of tiny, carefully framed shots that involve giving the same line half a dozen times and then stopping to reset all the lights and cameras. And I've never tried to seriously act with three tech crew sprawled across the floor at my feet, out of shot, holding lights and booms at the right angles.
So it was a learning curve, as an actor and as a producer. It was tough, it was exhausting, and I had an absolute whale of a time. By the end of the second day I never wanted to go home; I would have been happy to get up at 6am the next morning and spend two hours commuting to the location to do it all over again. Things that made it special included:
- Getting to work with Adele for the first time ever. I've admired her work since I was an innocent non-spanking model, and I wrote the script with her in mind. Which is probably why the central plot arc is about the relationship between our two characters, and why one of the scenes featured her wrestling me facedown on a bed in a flurry of hair and petticoats, and spanking me furiously with a hairbrush while I sobbed and begged her to stop. Cue much weeping and drama and eventual reconciliation. Whee! Was I by any chance a little flushed after that scene? *ahem*
- Some truly fantastic out-of-character moments. We filmed Adele's hairbrush-revenge scene before the classroom scene where I pissed her off enough to earn it; one of the shots in the bedroom scene was me applying cream to her poor battered bottom and apologising for earning her the thrashing that had caused it. So when we filmed the classroom scene, she had far more colourful marks than she'd had when we'd filmed the bedroom scene that came next in the story. (Still with me so far?) Cue me and Adele laying a bedspread on the floor of the 'classroom' so we didn't have to move the cameras, and a second application of cream to her freshly beaten arse. Chuh, see what I suffer for professional perfectionism?
- The costumes gathered many compliments from the crew, and everyone agreed they made it so much easier to imagine we were in a period context. I was really glad they worked out; I'd taken a bit of a gamble on them, commissioning a friend of a friend who specialises in re-enactment costume. I designed an outfit halfway between Edwardian schoolgirl and demure young lady. The sort of thing pupils at an academy for governesses would wear, if you see what I mean. The colours were chosen to complement the tones and textures of the location, and because I was ordering online we didn't get a fitting, so it was a real risk, especially as I'd never bought from this costumier before. But they were amazing: they fitted perfectly, apart from a small issue with the blouses which we'd been fore-warned about, and were exceptionally flattering. They made getting into character really easy, and it was lovely to have actually matching uniforms for two girls at the same institution. The only issue (apart from the bloomers being far too complicated to undo or tie back up, which was easily surmounted with cunning camerawork) was that the lambchop sleeves massively restricted our movement, making it really difficult to bend over or lift our arms above a certain angle. Historically accurate, if nothing else: respectable ladies were never meant to lift their arms above their heads. But not ideal for making spanking porn.
- Olivia Manners very kindly let us film in her house, a beautiful wood-panelled historical townhouse with the most amazing garden full of statuary and hidden marvels. It was a little small to fit all the kit in, and I fretted constantly about damaging or losing her possessions, but I was so grateful for her generosity in letting us use it. It's a uniquely elegant place full of antique paintings and furniture, and I hope the richness of the wood tones comes through on camera.
- Having said that, some of the house's contents (belonging to the eccentric landlady) were downright bizarre. Such as the little crystal scotty dog which kept turning up on set no matter how many times we moved it, and which wasn't made of crystal at all but of little blocks of tacky plastic: its crowning glory was the pink 'tail' standing straight upright with two pink blocks on either side where it connected to the, er, dog. Footage may or may not have been filmed of me fellating this glorious piece of decorative art. I couldn't possibly comment.
- The garden was too good not to use, and it even yielded the switch that was used on me for the outdoor whipping, but filming outside was fraught with difficulties. It was a bright, blustery day with white clouds swirling across the sky, and whenever the lens was set up for shade, the sun would come out; as soon as we adjusted it it would go back in. Not to mention pausing for long minutes (including mid-switching) to wait for planes, helicopters, sirens and other authentic 1911 street sounds to quieten down; and having to stop filming while the cheeky neighbouring urchins sang that well-known Edwardian ditty: "I like to move it, move it."
- Watching my Dom beat the living daylights out of one of my favourite spanking models. I don't really need to go into any more detail, but I should mention that Adele and I spent the two days cycling between contrasting concerns for one another: at any one point I was either worried that I'd written her too much punishment, or that she'd feel hard done by having not had enough. She was very keen that her reactions should be authentic and kept assuring Tom he could go harder, while I bit my knuckles and cringed and felt horribly guilty. I couldn't find my wooden ruler for the classroom scene (we even sent someone out to look for one, but no joy) so they opted for my heavy wooden clothes brush, which is damn well lethal; I can't take it, and the morning leading up to the scene I was constantly fretting to Adele "Are you sure you want to use that? You don't have to, you know! Are you SURE?" No wonder she decided I needed a smacking.
- Can I be smug again about getting spanked by Adele? Hee. :)
- Tom was a star. I mean, I know I'm biased, but seriously. He did most of the talking on camera, all of it ad-libbed and most of it demanding multiple repetitions; he was responsible for two submissive actors as a top as well as as a director; he successfully juggled his own acting, looking after us, managing the tech crew and everything else, and he looked hot and I couldn't have done it without him.
- The tech crew, by the way, were amazing. They were very, very good at their jobs, got on with things with minimal fuss, were communicative and chilled and made everything easy; some of them were new to spanking but it was really not a problem, and they were a genuinely sweet and decent bunch of guys. Emotions were running so high by the end of the second day that I'd fallen a bit in love with all of them. Techies must get a bit sick of actors doing that. And I know I'm a big fat lovey but it's true: they were brilliant.
So. Three very different films, all the brainchildren of Tom and I, spanning the length and breadth of my career to date; from the amateur to the ... well, really quite professional, actually. They're all being released together, which will make the contrast even more extreme, but it's interesting to have the journey laid out like that. (Well, I think it's interesting, but you all know how self-involved I can be given the opportunity.)
If you'd asked me a week ago whether all the hard work and planning on Lost Causes had been worth it, I'd have probably said no. Now that filming has wrapped, and we've done everything we'd spent so long working towards? Hell yes. I'd do it again. In fact, I'm hoping I will.