A Short Film By
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Smooth Sailing is a dark comedy set in the vibrant seaside town of Brighton. This film explores misogynistic sexuality through the eyes of a 26-year old estate agent called Dave.
Dave lays in bed, flicking through Tinder as his girlfriend sleeps beside him. Quickly, he becomes aroused, and a sexy and sensual scene unfolds, all from the perspective of Dave’s ravenous hunger for his girlfriend’s body. Dave’s girlfriend screams and headbutts him, making him fall to the ground. Dave stumbles into the bathroom and discovers that his reflection has changed into a voluptuous woman. At first, there is a lot of crying and pleading and all-around despair, but as soon as Dave sees his female breasts jiggle in the mirror, he instinctively embraces this new challenge.
Dave sets off into the heart of Brighton and finds an unsuspecting punter that he coerces into buying him the sexiest and most provocative outfit possible. Dressed up in a tight pink latex dress and white knee-high stiletto boots, he walks down the bustling market street. People can’t help but stare as he struts by, and Dave discovers newfound freedom and power in his unapologetic sexuality. Completely embracing his new female reflection, Dave goes into a fish & chip shop, and the men inside are putty in his hands.
Then, Dave decides to explore what he sees as his new female privilege by getting every man in the close vicinity to buy him drinks. A little worse for wear, Dave stumbles out of a pub and heads to the hottest club in the city. He saunters past the long queue of people waiting to get into the club and smiles sweetly at the bouncer, and he is in. On top of the world, Dave enters the dark haze filled club and heads to what he thinks is the hub of sexy female frivolity (The lady’s toilet).
As he staggers into the ladies’ toilets, he throws up, and when Dave emerges, still attempting to pull down his tight latex skirt, icy stairs meet him from all the women. The toilet attendant cleans the sweaty and disheveled Dave. He emerges from the toilet feeling like a new woman and makes an A-line to the dance floor. Dave dances freely, and a small circle of women forms around him. A man thrusts his arm into the circle and snatches Dave, pulling him violently into his sweaty and hairy chest. Frantically Dave tries to pull away, but the man holds him tighter. Dave almost throws up again as he feels the man’s boner jabs him in the stomach. Emerging from behind the disco lights, a tall man saves Dave from the unrelenting harassment.
To Dave’s delight, the tall man is charming and funny. They go to a private bar and spend the rest of the evening swapping funny stories while drinking champagne. Unable to hold his head up, Dave is helped by his newfound friend into a taxi. Once inside the man’s flat, Dave becomes acutely aware that he doesn’t know this man and wants to go home. Head still spinning, Dave is directed into the bedroom, and he is sexually assaulted. As he is overpowered he sees his female reflection unable to fight back. Dave awakens to the fact that he is a man and not the woman reflected in the mirror and headbutts his attacker in the face. They both fall to the ground. Dave staggers to his feet and finds himself back in his bedroom. He sees his girlfriend’s face reflecting the same fear and anger that he feels.
Dave takes a step forward as his girlfriend flinches away. Flashbacks from their morning sexual escapade start to flood Dave’s mind. We see no longer sexy and sensual, the subtle force and intimidation used and the countless signs that she wasn’t enjoying the experience. Dave tries to apologize. He is remorseful, but it’s too late; the woman is too afraid, and when Dave tries to move close, she knocks him out.
Dave is a 28-year old deeply misogynist estate agent who lives in Brighton. Known by his friends as a loveable asshole. He charms his way into people’s lives with his confidence and childlike enthusiasm.
Jonathan is a socially awakward man in his late 30’s. Never really understanding the importance of hygeine, his wet looking greasy hair and strong odour can put off even the most kind hearted person of being in his company.
Eva symbolises the collective female voice, embodying both vulnerability and courage. As Dave’s enduring girlfriend, we trace her journey as she bravely reclaims her body.
Lavender is a sweet hearted woman in her early 20’s. She is a knitting and crochet enthusiast and loves wearing clothes and accessories that are made out of pure wool. She sees her role in the shop as fairy godmother, and wishes that every customer leaves dressed for a ball.
Summer is a multifaceted character – a strong, independent, and unapologetically sexy woman with a maternal side. She becomes Dave’s protector and caregiver during a challenging period in his journey as a woman.
Alex is a an older and more sophisticated version of Dave. He is a very good looking and charming man in his late 30’s. He has an air of elegance that is effortless. Every interaction he has with a person is a game, and ihe is obsessed with having the upperhand.
Smooth sailing is my creative response to reading “I never called it rape” by journalist Robin Warshaw. The book focuses on the hidden epidemic of acquaintance and date rape based on a nationwide study in the USA. After reading it, I felt so angry and disappointed because time and time again, these women were let down by the society that was meant to protect them. The studies presented in this book clearly show that sex is still seen through a male lens. It also highlights the truth about rapists: they are not these mysterious and shady characters that lurk in the dark, typically depicted in movies. Often the sexual assault is perpetrated by an acquaintance or a person in the victim’s social circle.
The book explains that a high percentage of rape cases are not extremally violent. In fact, many victims find it hard at first to identify their experience with sexual assault because it doesn’t line up with the stereotypical extreme violence depiction that is seen on TV and in film. If a victim can struggle to identify rape, there must be men failing to recognise their actions as sexual assault as well.
A single thought kept circling in my head. If only there were ways for men to relate more intimately to the female experience. If they could experience what it’s like to be sexually harassed, objectified and overpowered by men, then maybe, they might be able to reflect on their own past actions. In this film, the protagonist experiences the same sexual assault that he has inflicted on his girlfriend at the start of the film. This assault forces him to assess his past actions and brings him to the reckoning that his behaviour is of a rapist and an abuser.
This film will bring awareness to the complexity of sexual assault and may instigate men to abandon their old misogyny, which causes so much harm to society. These thoughts led to the concept of Smooth Sailing. I wanted to use the all-time classic body-swap narrative but with a gut-punching twist. Having chosen such a heavy subject matter, I decided to make this film a dark comedy early on. Humour is a form of psychological processing; it is a coping mechanism that can help people deal with complex and conflicting ideas. Humour is interwoven into the fabric of our everyday existence, and it allows us to change the way we think and possibly the way we act.
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Based on true stories
A Short Film