How to film a rape scene

Blog #13


Three films wrapped, two to go.  We’re more than halfway done and the light at the end of the tunnel no longer feels like a train barreling down upon us.  I wouldn’t say that shooting here is getting easier though, just slightly more predictable. When we lose power, we’ve been able to jack it from a car.  When we arrive at a public location, we try and create a perimeter before setting up our equipment (using police officers and the sticks they actually swat people with – which I suppose is better than using the AK-47 strapped to their shoulder).  And starting at 6:30 a.m. is just never going to happen, so don’t expect the entire crew to arrive until at least an hour later.


Yesterday we shot a film that begins with a rape scene in broad daylight. The sensitive subject matter risks getting played as comedy when a near hundred people gather around and react to every move you make. And sure enough, the crowd indeed erupted in laughter during a run through as our main actress is jumped by her two assailants.  Moments later, our first V.I.P.’s arrived on set from the American embassy to witness the project first hand (we’ve submitted a funding proposal).

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My blood pressure ran sky high until I quickly realized that if I could focus on making the shot work, we’d be best off on both accounts. The crew knew overall what they had to do, so we worked through the details and managed to create what I’m hoping will be an effective scene.  We were told our operation was very impressive looking and unique, so fingers are crossed we’ll get some support to keep the BFC sustainable.

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Today’s shoot was with a group that was arguably the most prepared of the entire class, and still ran almost two and a half hours over schedule.  Aside from the incredibly slow start, I partly blame myself for fusing over some lighting and mise-en-scene details. But the script is strong, the action all manageable, so I wanted to make sure to get as much right as we could.  It meant cutting one scene to the barebones and compromising some quality and care on the final one we filmed, not to mention deserving a daytime Emmy award for some overacting I myself had to do to secure a location. We had to film one vital shot at a specific location when suddenly a man, his wife and kids who lived in a shanty nearby, stepped in front of the camera and refused to let us shoot.  We negotiated, offered money, but the man wanted to make a point and be damned if some wannabe Hollywood types were going to tell him where to go. Luckily we had our second “behind the scenes” camera around and using it and a crew member, I pretended to move the shot a bit out of our actual frame. He ran up along with his wife and kids, and in charade-style sign language I demanded he move away. Of course he refused, the shot was completed behind us, and I stormed off “frustrated” while he got to play the hero in front of his family.  It was a win-win situation; we need more of those out here.

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Christopher Redmond