WHO WE ARE
The vision behind “Amara Sol” is to use film language to illuminate sexuality as something to be celebrated, especially when it’s married with soul.
The film upholds ethical standards and feminist values; uses beautiful cinematography and great music; has drama, humor, fantasy and candid sexuality.
Justin, the writer: I wrote the script as a critique of modern mores such as consumerism and the idea body/nature is divorced and lower than spirit. I know firsthand the negative impact these ideas can have. Rather than be, in Kierkegaard’s terms, a “knight of resignation,” we can become a “knight of faith” by marrying sex (or body) with soul. As I said on the Home Page, I’ve written about 30 drafts learning how to craft as strong a script as possible along the way. Now that I have a draft I’m excited about, I can’t wait to bring it to the screen.
John Seymore, Executive Developmental Producer, is an independent director, actor, producer, writer, casting director and production designer. He won the “Killer Film Challenge” and the award for “Best Production” at the Phoenix Short Film Festival for his film She Feast. In 2015 he directed two web series, “The Weed Detective” and “The Alibi Boys.” He also directed the feature Tangled 8. He’s one of the “hardest working men in independent film,” and his patient guidance often brings out the best performances from cast and crew.
PRINCIPLES WITHIN THE SCRIPT AND FOR THE SHOOT
- Getting turned on is a legitimate reason to watch a movie.
- There’s nothing “shameful” or “dirty” about the human body. It should be celebrated in all its variety.
- Suppressing the body and sexuality (ironically) creates lust. In the open, the body often becomes ordinary and dissipates lust. (For some strange reason, sex or the body seems to get “censored” more readily than violence. Why?)
- Sex can be a source of creativity, connection, even self-discovery.
- Sex is best when connected with the heart, mind, and spirit.
- Sexuality is fluid and transcends false dilemmas such as either “gay” or “straight.”
- The process of filming (especially the sex scenes) is crucially important. It must be done with care and respect.
- Female characters are strong, intelligent, independent.
- One aim is to craft a beautiful, sexy film that turns on both women and men.
- The script embraces Freud’s idea of innate bisexuality and challenges labels like “gay” and “straight.”
- The double standard that only men are allowed to enjoy sexual freedom is disposed. Sexual freedom is part of women’s freedom (or more accurately human freedom).
- Sex is awesome not only within “True Love.” That is, meaningful sex can also happen in a casual encounter as well as in a long-term relationship.
- The movie broadens the idea of what is sexy by challenging the lofty standards set by the media.
Repression (ironically) warps our natural desires into lust. In its proper place, desire is good. When desire becomes so excessive that we endanger subordinating respect for another to selfish desire, it turns to lust. As an analogy, the more we press down on a spring, the stronger it will want to be released and the more dominant it becomes in taking over our personality.
It’s ironic because we seem to want to hide the body in order to “sweep” sexual desire under the bed. But by burying it underground, we don’t eliminate it. Our natural desire only ferments into something else (that can take over us the best in us). We then begin to see sex and the body as dark and dirty.
By contrast, if the body were embraced and allowed to be in the open, excessive desire (or lust) calms as there’s no longer a desperate need to “get” it anymore.
The questions the nudity pose in this film are why do we tend to see the body as somehow bad, and why do we tend to see sexual desire as somehow dangerous? One of the enlightening things Plato pointed out in his Symposium is that with the right approach to our sexual desires, they can actually inspire us to higher places.
That’s the rationale behind the nudity. It’s there not just to turn audiences on, but also to see what it’s like to put desire in its proper place. In some scenes, the nudity is non-sexual. After the initial shock of seeing a naked body, we don’t even notice it anymore, because we see how uncontroversial (even “agreeable”) it is.
That leads into another (curious) question. Isn’t it funny how we all have the same body parts in common yet we see them as dangerous, obscene, disgraceful?
Hiding the body has other negative effects: it has created unrealistic concepts of the body, it’s far easier to over-sexualize it, and it has led to fear and shame of the body.
Nudity is actually an equalizer. We see there’s no perfect body. We see “imperfections” are nothing to be embarrassed about. When we embrace our imperfections, we begin to see variety as beautiful. Without the status symbols associated with clothing, there’s more of a sense of equality.
The “decency” concept in the end is a mere concept, an idea, an interpretation of the body that has become such a “given,” we don’t even question it. But it is an idea that can and must be challenged as it leads to harmful effects.
There’s a lot to celebrate about the human body. And that’s the intention behind the nudity in this film.
IT’S NORMAL AND HEALTY TO BE TURNED ON WHEN WATCHING A MOVIE
Part of what makes movies fun to watch is feeling emotion: uncertainty during thrillers, romance during romantic comedies, laughter during comedies, fear during horror, pathos during dramas, happiness during feel-good movies. Why should feeling sexual energy be a less legitimate reason (or reaction) to watch a movie?
But here’s the problem. Mainstream movies and porn don’t fully engage the legitimacy of sexual feelings well enough. Mainstream movies often sanitize sex scenes so audiences won’t get too sexually stimulated. Porn isn’t exactly famous for developing story—the sex is meant to gratify. This movie wants to bridge this gap by having sex appear within a real story.
The hope is having a larger context for the sex may help legitimize sexual feelings, enrich the sexual charge while also engaging us psychologically, too.
The intent is to turn on audiences physically as well as intellectually and emotionally. Again, the idea is to reintegrate sex with soul and mind.
But this isn’t the first attempt to bridge the gap between sex and psychology. Starting in the early 2000s, filmmakers have attempted to bridge arthouse cinema and real sex. Some have been more successful than others, but here are some of the trailblazers:
- Romance (Catherine Breillat, 1999)
- Baise-Moi (Virginie Despentes and Coralie, 2000)
- Y Tu Mamà Tambièn (Alfonso Cuarón , 2001)
- Lucía and Sex (Julio Medem, 2001)
- Intimacy (Patrice Chéreau, 2001)
- The Piano Teacher (Michael Haneke, 2001)
- Ken Park (Larry Clark, 2002)
- Brown Bunny (Vincent Gallo, 2003)
- 9 Songs (Michael Winterbottom, 2004)
- All About Anna (Jessica Nilsson, 2005)
- Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell, 2006)
- Destricted (art-film compilation, 2006)
- Antichrist, Melancholia, and Nymphomaniac (Lars von Trier, 2009, 2011, 2013)
- Now & Later (Phillipe Diaz, 2009)
- Room in Rome (Julio Medem, 2010)
- Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)
- Love (Gasper Noé, 2015)
- Below Her Mouth (April Mullen, 2017)
The vision for “Amara Sol” is to create something similar to ancient Greek sculpture: erotic but also aesthetic, celebrating the body in a way that also lifts the soul. The sexuality in this film serves the story and is beautiful to watch.
- Conflict and subtle power dynamics roll over into the sex scenes.
- There’s an internal component to the sex scenes—character’s psychological issues, insecurities, motivations are at play.
- In addition to sight and sound, cinematic techniques help audiences “experience” touch, taste and smell.
- Visual techniques such as lighting, color harmony, composition are employed. And great music, interspersed with silences and pauses, please the ears and draw us in emotionally.
The overarching purpose is to turn on and to explore how sex, mind, and soul can work together. (Some images of the vision can be found in the IMAGES section here.)
It’s a challenge to find the right actors for a project like this because actors need to be comfortable as sexual beings in addition be able to act. The acting requires a range running from the ability to do comedy to emotional honesty.
But the director is there to help actors along the way. The director works personally with each actor to ensure he or she feels safe and is on the same page. It’s important that the cast be enthusiastic about doing this project and to feel comfortable.
Again, it’s vital to create an atmosphere where actors enjoy working on set, with each other, and with the crew. And it’s vital that everyone is making the same movie.
The right actor would help tell this story and would be a part of making a piece of art. Interested in becoming an actor/actress? >> (click the Cast/Crew Page here)
Here’s a video to show the approach we’ll take to the more “steamy” scenes:
The idea is make something beautiful. The assumption is actors are co-artists.
FILMING OTHER SCENES
Picture quality is important, but careful attention is paid especially to sound. Great sound often goes unnoticed by audiences but it adds a lot. And besides, it’s hard to watch a movie if you can’t hear anything.
Some sets will be designed and built. Dance scenes will be performed by professional dancers. So, a choreographer is needed. And original music is to be composed, so an excellent composer is needed, too.
Interested in joining the crew? click here
This film has a spirit similar to Amelie and Annie Hall in the upbeat tone and the occasional break from realism in order to get inside the head of the protagonist.
The sex scenes may parallel Blue is the Warmest Color and The Opening of Misty Beethoven.
The dance sequences may resemble Dancing with the Stars in some of its upbeat numbers, Black Swan in its ballet numbers, and there’s a dance fantasy that’s similar to the one in Singin’ in the Rain.
WHY MAKE THIS EROTIC FILM
- To legitimize sexual feelings by portraying sexuality in an honest way within a classic story.
- To mend the gap between mainstream movies and erotica–i.e., to make an artistic “porn” that has story, characters, premise, and high production value.
- To challenge puritanical attitudes towards sex by showing how sex and soul can be married.
- To offer a philosophical alternative to the Cartesian mind-body problem (i.e., the body isn’t separate and lower than the mind).
- To offer an alternative to the depression we can feel living in a consumer culture by saying when we marry body and soul, we gain creativity and we find a source of fulfillment.
In short, we want to say something about sexuality and society, tell a classic story, and let audiences feel breathless along the way.
An accountant who was once a dancer auditions for a risqué dance show and finds her heart in the process.
Amara Sol is toiling away crunching numbers as an accountant and she’s miserable. Her real love is dance. When she comes across an opportunity to audition for a risqué but premier dance show, she goes for it though she feels completely under-confident.
After winning a callback, Amara has 3 weeks to overcome her under-confidence, find a marriage between body and soul, and breathe life back into her dance. To complicate matters, the star of the show harbors a secret that makes her want to destroy Amara.
Inspired by the novel Emmanuelle, this is a modern retelling of the ancient Greek myth “Eros and Psyche.” In the end, Amara discovers real happiness isn’t found “out there” but within.