A PROPER EDUCATION, 20min,. USA
Directed by MaryLanae Linen
Filmmaker MaryLanae Linen, frustrated by her lack of sex education, sets out to discover if her peers feel the same way. She meets with sex educators, parents, and friends and surveys the streets of Los Angeles to discover that they also lacked an informative and comprehensive sex ed. MaryLanae opens up about her own exploration of sex and reflects on how a lack of knowledge has hurt her. With the encouragement of her mother and peers, MaryLanae redefines her relationship with sex and reimagines a better future where young people can be uplifted and empowered with knowledge regarding boundaries, relationships, and bodily autonomy.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
Growing up I always had a weird and strained relationship with my body and the idea of sex. As a victim of sexuall trauma it was hard for me to see sex as anything other than a bad thing. But as I grew up and met people with similar experiences and questions about sex I felt less alone. I realized that the lack of sex education isn't just about parents not talking to their kids, it's about parents not knowing what to say, it's about the government not providing adequate education. AS seen in the film, there is so much that people don't know about their own bodies. I wanted this film to open their eyes and make them less afraid of sex and their bodies.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
This film was basically a senior thesis for my MFA. We were required to take a Documentary Development class that was about 3 months long and at the end we pitched our ideas to faculty and I was one of the chosen directors. The next semester we began production for seven weeks, and then post production took about two months. It was a long process but well worth it.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
The biggest obstacle was deciding to be in the film and using my story to bring everything together. I wanted this film to be so much bigger than me but it took my team, my professors, and even my mom to help me see that I was a piece of it. I had to confront my own demons and talk to my own mother about sex ON CAMERA. I did a lot of growing to make this possible. I had to confront my demons and at times stick up for my ideas and my vision because every week we would show our progress to an entire class and listen to feedback that sometimes was less than helpful. But it taught me alot of life lessons and I am forever grateful.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was on my lunch break at my substitute teaching job and I literally started crying and I never cry. It meant so much that my goal for this film had been achieved. Our goal wasn't to have the most awards but to reach the most people and have an impact on how they view sex education. I know this film isn't for everyone but the overwhelming positivity that came from the feedback reminded me of my true aspirations for this film and I truly felt fulfilled.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
There are two distinct moments that I remember. The first one was my junior year of high school, I took Honors English and we had to do a recreation of scenes from Great Expectations. As soon as I read the requirements the ideas came flooding to me. I had all of my teammates over to my house and we shot all the scenes from sunup to sun down based on the script I wrote myself. I was so pumped by everything I stayed up way past my bedtime and edited the footage (shot on an iPhone 6) and turned it in on a CD the next day. Everyone loved it and my English teacher showed it to every class she had after until she retired. The second moment was when my Dad and I went to see Interstellar. I was so entranced with the production and the story. I remember thinking, How did they do this? And I knew I wanted to be behind the camera to bring ideas like that to life.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
I realize there is a theme with the movies I watch over and over. For the longest time my favorite movie was Enough, starring Jennifer Lopez. And then it became Kill Bill Vol. 1, and then it was If Beale Street Could Talk. Each one features strong women fighting for their lives and taking back their independence, or getting revenge on those who wronged them, or fighting to save their families. Growing up I didn't see many women in roles like this. Especially women of color. These are the kind of films we still need.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
Give us a chance. Give different kinds of films a chance. We can't keep seeing the same kind of films with the same kind of people. Everyone deserves to see someone who looks like that on screen.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
FilmFreeway is really easy and helpful. I love using it. It makes submitting to festivals so easy.
10. What is your favorite meal?
It has to be tacos. I could eat them everyday for the rest of my life. And not TexMex tacos. Real Mexican tacos.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I just finished my Masters from USC and I am taking time to get myself together and redirect my plans for my life. But storytelling will always be my passion and my dream. It's in my blood and I can't live without it. I continue to learn and practice my skills to be the best I can.