I took a film history and film making course taught by JJ Murphy at the University of St. Thomas around 1973-4. Of all the college courses I took, these classes stand out as the most influential. As part of the film making class, I made three super 8mm films that were later lost. Memories of those films haunt me.
A few years later, I studied super 8 documentary film making through the Rice Media Center and James Blue. If I recall correctly, James blue was pushing the idea that, because super 8 mm was so much cheaper than 16 mm film, community activists could use Super 8 film to create films about social problems. I made an observational documentary about my family of origin that dealt with alcoholism and what we now label Alzheimer’s Disease. That film and all related materials were accidentally destroyed by my sister.
About the same time, I took a short summer course in directing film actors taught by the screenwriter (?) for the 1965 film “The Shop On Main Street.” I had written a short piece about an experience I had with a former college girlfriend that went sideways. This girlfriend was the first, of several, women I was close to who were incest survivors.
The story took place in a bedroom, was one continuous take, and had a cast of two. Though the story was about sex, it included no nudity. I was responsible for every aspect of production. I had to cast in a totally unfamiliar environment environment. Through serendipity a female student from Hampshire College was interested in the project. After we mutually interviewed each other, she decided to play the female role. I could find no male leads, so I played myself.
In rehearsal, I had to share deep feelings and thoughts I was unable to share in the real situation. This included feelings of regret, remorse and guilt. I tried my best to relate how I thought the woman thinking and feeling. In particular, I speculated that the incest experience was at the foundation of the woman’s dissociation during sex- in the actual experience I thought I did something wrong to cause the dissociation or that I was sexually inadequate.
I do not recall the shoot, presenting the final product to the class, or where the videotape ended up.
After the project had been videotaped, the woman approached me with a proposal. The project had convinced her that I was sensitive. She was a virgin and did not want her first sexual experience to be with a student in her college. She worried about the reputation she might get if she was inexperienced and performed poorly. She also shared her interest in a specific boy. So, she asked me to sleep with her.
I had done my best not to think about her sexually because of the project. I was incredulous at this change of events. Her matter of factness and pragmatism surprised me. I questioned if she really want to do this. She was quite firm about her proposal.
I was lonely and had hoped to have a sexual relationship during the course. But, I had had enough sex to know that it could range from an unpleasant experience to a life altering experience. I had never slept with a virgin and felt a strong responsibility to make it as pleasurable as possible.
I asked her about birth control. But, like almost every woman I slept with associated with college, she said she didn’t need it because she wasn’t able to have a baby.
I recall little of the experience which is unusual. I tend to remember sexual encounters. She did allow me to make a super 8 black and white nude study of her. I have no idea where it is.
The Directing Film Actors course had a lot of free time for production. I used the time to sit in courses in History of the Avant Garde where I met Ondine and Hollis Frampton. I also sat in a course that dealt with ethics in anthropological film making.