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Incredibly Strange Films Excerpt: Joe Sarno

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R/S: Have producers ever changed your films?

JOE SARNO: I made one film, Every Afternoon, with a British actress, Diana Dors. It had good people in it, but the producer screwed it up. I didn’t have the editing rights on it and he actually added in scenes and wrote new material for it. The basic story was about two people meeting in the park—a young guy and a young woman—back to fantasies! The young woman is in a ballet outfit—practice clothes—and the guy is wearing “pilot’s wings,” and he tells her he’s a pilot. Well, neither one of them is—he works at an airline loading cargo and she is a prostitute who reads a lot, etc. Each day they meet and they have this tremendous fantasy.

Finally he finds out who she is. He’s given a birthday party and a girl is brought there, and she’s the girl. Then they avoid each other for a long time, but finally they meet again in the park and they carry on the conversation. She now knows that all he is is a freight handler, but they talk as if he’s still an airlines pilot and she’s a ballet dancer. It’s one of those weird little stories that could have been beautiful, but the producer totally wrecked it. It should have been a small film but he tried to make it a big one. The little sensitive story was lost . . .

Producers are always a problem—usually I don’t have problems with producers, but on this one I did . . .

R/S: It’s not just luck that your filmmaking team functioned so efficiently—

JOE: No! It’s not an accident. You choose it. I think by force of will (back to the “force”) you avoid things and people that don’t fit in.

For example, there are many people who shouldn’t be doing pornographic films, or who are doing them for the wrong reasons. The right reason is one that is not commercial: because they like to perform in front of people (in a sexual way or otherwise); because they’re turned on by doing it. Otherwise they shouldn’t be doing it. I tell people they shouldn’t be doing it, or that they should be. For example, Annie Sprinkle should be doing it, because she loves to and is so involved in this whole feeling of sex. She is so crazy and sweet and nice it kills you . . .

The big thing with films—a film is the result of a human relationship, and when you write it to begin with, it’s got to be about a real human relationship. Each actor or actress must filter the chaacter through their own personality. And that’s the whole secret of the thing. Without that, you have nothing.

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