Science, Sex & The Ladies isn't a typical "adult film," though it is intended for mature audiences. Made by the Indianapolis-based AnC Films and now ready for the film festival circuit or living room screenings, the feature depicts how women physically experience orgasms using charts, graphs, illustrations, actors portraying sex experts and couples, anatomical models and real lady parts. It's not, nor is it meant to be, pornographic. The only use of porn in the movie is an example of what isn't real.
The film began life an an extensive essay by college senior Trisha Borowicz on myths and facts that surround how and why women have orgasms. Trisha, along with her AnC Films cohorts Charles Borowicz and Barnaby Aaron, helped turn her essay into a script. The "visual essay" — as opposed to a documentary — was shot in Greenfield, Anderson and Indianapolis in 2009.
Since then, the filmmakers, who self-financed most of this film, raised $20,000 on Kickstarter in late 2011 to cover final sound and music production expenses. The end result is a unique, entertaining, informative, funny and even touching look at the myths and realities of how and why women experience pleasure.
The filmmakers say they are so passionate about this idea because there is no dearth of bad information. For generations, women and men have relied on unreliable sources like women's magazines, men's magazines, porn, popular culture, each other and even misinterpreted scientific research to make assumptions.
As one part of the movie explains, after World War II, sex was discussed more openly and there were higher expectations than before for both men and women in the boudoir. One negative consequence was that women were thought to be "frigid" if they didn't or couldn't have a vaginal orgasm — something the film depicts as incredibly rare based on existing scientific and social studies.
As a result of these misconceptions, there was an increase in "frigidity" following World War II. To help, a narrator explains, there were "tastefully vague" "marriage manuals" that introduced the idea of foreplay.
One delightfully absurd scene in the film shows a couple in bed together. Both are wearing tasteful pajamas and are under the sheets. As the husband moves up and down while on top, the wife has her hands behind her husband's back. She then starts filling her nails out of boredom. A scene or two later, she shows her husband a few pages from the marriage manual. The husband then goes down on the wife. But, at the book's suggestion, he stops just before she climaxes. He then gets on top of her — and she eventually goes back to filing her nails.
While none of the filmmakers are recognized experts in the field, at least one expert, Kathleen Baldwin, commends the filmmakers for wanting to share this information with the public and the tone they have chosen to do it. While Baldwin, a certified sexuality educator since 1995, had a few concerns about how others in her field would regard some of the research used for the film, she says that no one else in her field has done a film quite like this before, and she applauded the filmmakers' accessible approach to female pleasure.
As for the style of the film, the directors say they were inspired by Peter Greenaway's formalistic 1989 film The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. Each scene was filmed to look more like scenes in a play than a film. For instance, in one scene, Trisha and Aaron act as parents talking to teenage girls about "the G spot." The characters are positioned on and around a couch, as if right out of an '80s sitcom. Aaron is wearing a Cosby sweater and a laugh track punctuates their commentary.
Much of the film was shot using a green screen to save time and money. This was a challenge for Charles because he added and edited most of the backgrounds long after the actors had been filmed. Because the movie was shot in a warehouse, they had plenty of space, but also needed to be creative about technical aspects of the film, like sound. They used hanging strips of insulation and tested various microphones to make sure they were getting exactly what they needed.
The filmmakers were upfront with their actors about the nature of the film. One couple who acted together in the film when they were engaged and are now married with a 2-year-old son, Jeremy Grimmer and Christa Shoot Grimmer, shared a few thoughts about the experience via email. Both have experience in local theater, including with EclecticPond Theatre Company.
One of Jeremy's characters was a magician who explains how sex works and a participant in a fictional porn summit. Christa played a 1940s teenager welcoming back a World War II soldier and a confused 1950s housewife.