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

TV-MA  |  Video  |   |  Documentary, Short  |  13 March 2007 (USA)
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A look at the unusual process used in the making of the film Shortbus (2006) featuring interviews, behind the scenes footage and clips from the feature film. Director John Cameron Mitchell ... See full summary »


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A look at the unusual process used in the making of the film 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. Written by TimeNTide

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Documentary | Short






Release Date:

13 March 2007 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


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


References Tarnation (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Somewhat Interesting Look at the Unusual Process Used to Create a Unique Film
13 December 2008 | by (Jacksonville, FL) – See all my reviews

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.

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