Interview with Honey Lauren
By Wil Forbis
When we last checked in with actress/director Honey Lauren she was promoting her action drama "Dot Got Shot."" What's she been up to since then? Still acting and still making films. Her latest short, "Wives of the Skies" is wracking up award wins* and earning attention. What's it about? Let's ask Honey!
* To date the film has twenty five film awards including BEST Director from the American Golden Picture International Film Festival, BEST Original Screen play from IndieX Film Fest., and Best Cinematography from New York Cinematography Awards and the Canadian Cinematography awards.
WF: Can you give us the lowdown on "Wives of the Skies" (spoiler free of course)?
HL: "Wives of the Skies" is a romantic dramedy, set in 1965. It features two stewardesses, Fran and Marcy from Fine Air, a well-appointed airline. One evening, after work at their stewardess hotel, they befriend Derrick, a British photojournalist who wants to interview them as "subjects" for his "documentary film".
As Fran and Marcy are interviewed, they are revealed to be different from what Derrick ever hoped for or could have possibly expected. As the characters get to know each other, "Wives Of The Skies" makes a contemporary socio-cultural statement regarding the meme of "the good girl drawn bad". "Wives Of The Skies" clarifies the impact of the overarching "men's gaze" which objectifies women as carnal sex objects that men seek while they look for love. Along the way, the film addresses the primitive issue of Trust vs. Mistrust and displays the Japanese art of rope binding, Kinbaku.
WF: How did you utilize Kinbaku in the movie?
HL: The literally translation for Kinbaku is "the beauty of tight binding". It's an ancient rope tying technique from Japan that was used as far back as the 1600s to restrain prisoners. Today it's used in bondage and BDSM. The rope patterns are very beautiful and elaborate and often Kinbaku involves suspension.
I am by no means a "Master" of Kinbaku aka Shibari, in the western culture, but I was lucky enough to have had one on set for "Wives of the Skies." A gentleman by the name of Master K did all the roping in the film. Master K is probably the best known Nawashi (rope master) here in the United States and studied and worked in Japan as well. His book, "The Beauty Of Kinbaku", is stunning. And working with him was most impressive. We did rehearsals with the actresses at his dojo, not only to agree upon the design, rope color and lighting that would look best to display his gorgeous rope work, but also to make sure the actresses felt safe and comfortable. For me, working with Master K was an amazing experience. He brought so much to the film and I'm so grateful he came on board.
WF: For a long time, Hollywood representations of the 60s focused on the latter half of the decade: the assassinations, riots in the streets, free love and hippies, etc. It's only recently that we've seen a look at the first halfof the decade---the more buttoned-down half---, primarily through TV shows like Mad Men and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. There's something intriguing about shows set in those era because, as a viewer, you're thinking, "Boy, they don't know what's about to happen!" Were you trying to capture that simmering tension in "Wives of the Skies"?
HL: I can't say that I was consciously doing that but I certainly did think about how the two stewardesses, Fran and Marcy, would have evolved in their relationship had it survived a few more years into the late 60s. If Marcy had hung in there a couple more years with Fran would they have started kissing instead of sublimating their feelings for each other with rope tying... or in addition to it?
The tension that did exist with Derrick coming to the stewardesses hotel room and seeing what he saw was intentional. And my composer Josh Vanakan really helped that along with his wonderful music... beautiful and at times queasy... He created a Waltz for the opening, then went into a Tango when Derrick came to visit the girls in their room and then he went back to a Waltz for the dinner scene.... This was after all a dance between the characters.
WF: The promotional material for "Wives of the Skies" makes clear that part of the film is a commentary on the male gaze. You worked with famed female film director Doris Wishman who made a number of films in the genre of sexploitation, a style of film pretty much dedicated to the male gaze. Was Wishman's work different from her male peers?
HL: That's really a good question. I do believe that Doris' intention was to be like her male counterparts for a number of reasons. First off, in the beginning of her career, she didn't use her own name as director because woman simply did not direct movies! I believe she put her husband's name on them, Louis Silverman. We're talking about 1960 here. And not only did woman not direct, they certainly didn't direct "Nudie" flicks. Doris was out to make this a business, selling her films to theaters with names like THE PUSSYCAT. In order for them to sell, they had to be directed by a man. And she was absolutely showing what men wanted to see: these nudie cuties featured beautiful, busty woman playing naked with beach balls, bouncing around in pools... male fantasy images.... (Remember, this was all pre-porno and it wasn't even legal to show nudity in the theaters back then unless it was specifically "Nudist films" shot in an actual nudist colony.) Eventually Doris went from the "cuties" to Grindhouse, sexploitation flicks and that's where I think she really came into her own getting away from the nudist films and telling stories. Films like "Bad Girls Go to Hell" and "Another Day, Another Man," the "male gaze" was still present, but it was far from being the theme of the film.
Later, by the time I worked with Doris in "Satan Was a Lady", things had again changed. She took the "Roughie" genre and gender bended it with my character plainly being the one doing the beating. This was clearly a departure from her male counterparts making movies in the genre.
Doris Wishman is our most prolific female director and still so many people don't know who she is. Crazy.
WF: #metoo Hollywood is creating more roles for women in the superhero and action genres. (Captain Marvel, Black Widow, Harley Quinn, etc.) Is this real progress or simply giving teenage boys hot bods to look at in between all the explosions? Are these the films female viewers want to see?
HL: Let's start with the #metoo movement...Yes, some things have improved, there are some new roles for woman. A woman Cinematographer last year was nominated for an Academy Award. I've noticed working in television there are a few more woman directors and Harvey Weinstein was indicted on sex crimes... So ... some progress, yes! But, make no mistake, Hollywood is still a boy's club... There's still something like one role for women to every eight roles for men, and that's being generous. One thing I have noticed and I love is that millennials on set are very, very conscious about how they treat women. And that's so refreshing! If you speak out of line or hit on a woman, whether you're a cast member or a crew member, you will be given a warning or fired. I hate to be so cliche but I recently worked with an older, white gentleman in the industry, and it was maybe a month after we shot and the names he called at least one of the actresses behind her back ... It was such a throw back... He couldn't get away with that now on a movie set.
Regarding some of the type of roles woman are now getting, the superheroes and the antiheroes, yes, this is good too! Sure it's great! Is it simply an excuse for teenage boys to look at hot bods, putting woman in these action roles? Yes. Sure it is. Sex sells, that's not changing, but be clear, it's not just the boys... most people who go to the movies are young woman and they feel empowered watching girls kick ass! Personally, I can't say I feel that way. As a screenwriter, I would love to see better material being made for both men and woman. I do believe the moms of these girls like their daughters having these role models. I recently met a little girl and I told her she was pretty and her mom jumped on me, "She's smart and strong!"
I would love it if we can get to the point where gender isn't such the issue, where I don't do a double take if I see a female director or DP on an episodic television show. (Alternately, I don't want to have the pressure to hire a "female crew only". I want to hire the best person for the job... ) So, will we get there? Maybe.******************
Don't forget these previous Acid Logic interviews with Honey Lauren!!!
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