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» » Gifted and Challenged: The Making of 'Shortbus' (2007)

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A look at the unusual process used in the making of the film Клуб Shortbus (2006) featuring interviews, behind the scenes footage and clips from the feature film. ... See full summary
A look at the unusual process used in the making of the film Клуб Shortbus (2006) featuring interviews, behind the scenes footage and clips from the feature film. Director John Cameron Mitchell starts with the concept of using real sex in a film with a positive message. The cast of unknowns is selected from homemade audition tapes and then a callback audition workshop. More acting workshops are used to develop the characters and script. The project overcomes a number of obstacles and the rest of the film's development is followed up until its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

This documentary is featured on the DVD for Shortbus (2006).

User reviews


  • comment
    • Author: JoJoshura
    Having seen the film Shortbus and been rather taken aback by the sexual content and drawn in by the emotional content and convincing characters, so I was interested enough to see the story behind the making of it. This short film covers a lot of ground, from the concept to the casting to the premier at Cannes but it does it in just about enough detail to give you the full sweep of the process. Mitchell makes for an interesting guide through this process as we see the actors audition, cast and start to deal with the challenges of making a film with the content of Shortbus.

    Mostly the film is very interesting as it gives a chance to witness this rather organic creative process happening over a short period of time. As such it is engaging on this level but it is hard to deny that it is rather pretentious at times and the justification for the sex and nudity is not as well carried in casual discussion as much as it was in the film itself. This didn't put me off the short documentary though because I did find it interesting to see the process – even if some of it was far removed from my experiences as a non-acting, non-creative type (ie a troglodyte).

    Anyway, not a brilliant documentary but an interesting one. Given that Shortbus was such an organic and arty creation, a documentary following the creative process does have some value even if you may scoff at some of it.
  • comment
    • Author: Yadon
    This behind the scenes documentary for the feature film "Shortbus" (2006) is somewhat atypical. Like most "making of" documentary shorts, it uses interviews with the director and cast, behind the scenes footage and short clips from the feature film. However, this short is more of a review and explanation of the unique development process of this unusual feature film, and since it was produced and released after the feature film, we know that it's not merely a promotional tool intended to convince viewers to buy tickets to the feature film.

    Most films get their production started with getting a script approved. For the film "Shortbus", director John Cameron Mitchell simply started with the idea that he wanted to use real sex in a film that had a positive message. This concept drove the development stage of the film in an unusual direction, first finding acceptable non-porn actors who were willing to have sex on screen, and then using numerous improv workshops with those actors to develop the characters and script. Mitchell states that he was creating the process in addition to the script and the film.

    The actors were initially selected from hundreds of homemade audition videos sent in for a "sex film project". Then, the 40 actors selected for callbacks were introduced to each other, watched their audition tapes together, filled out a questionnaire about what they were willing to do and with whom, and underwent a week of improv. The nine primary cast members and "sextras" were chosen and underwent STD tests, and then the focus shifted to using improv workshops to develop the story for the film.

    Some of the film's obstacles and issues are also discussed, among which were the CBC's objection to the casting of Canadian radio personality Sook-Yin Lee, having two key cast members drop out of the project, trying to find condoms that are "invisible", and the occasional "premature" accident.

    There's a section that discusses the heavy emotional message of the film while showing a number of clips from the feature film. And then it all wraps up with the film premiering at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. This last section is by far the weakest of the short. Other than the intertitles providing the facts, the few minutes about Cannes was mostly footage of cast and crew horsing around in their hotel rooms.

    Overall... very interesting in parts, less so in other parts, a few heavy thoughts and a number of good laughs. Definitely needed some editing to tighten things up, especially the Cannes section.
  • Credited cast:
    Raphael Barker Raphael Barker - Rob
    Lindsay Beamish Lindsay Beamish - Severin
    Mx Justin Vivian Bond Mx Justin Vivian Bond - Himself (as Justin Bond)
    Jay Brannan Jay Brannan - Ceth
    Jonathan Caouette Jonathan Caouette - Himself
    Shanti Carson Shanti Carson - Leah
    Miek Coccia Miek Coccia - Himself
    Paul Dawson Paul Dawson - James / Himself (as Paul 'Pinto' Dawson)
    PJ DeBoy PJ DeBoy - Jamie
    Howard Gertler Howard Gertler - Himself
    Maya Hardinge Maya Hardinge - Herself
    Timothy Heber Timothy Heber - Himself (as Tim Heber)
    Jasper James Jasper James - Jasper
    Bel Jordan Bel Jordan - Himself
    Sook-Yin Lee Sook-Yin Lee - Sofia
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