• Title: The First Time Experience
  • Type: Short Film
  • Running time: 17:26
  • Language: English
  • Release date: June 21, 2021
  • Country: Canada
  • Budget: $300 (plus a lot of volunteer time)
  • IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt15032640/

Concept

Several years ago, Hilary suggested to Stéphane that people need to see in advance what it would be like to visit Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park for the first time. Indeed, many had recounted the anxiety of their first experience. While to seasoned naturists it isn’t a big deal at all, the enormity of the perceived anti-social aspect for first time visitors cannot be understated. Many worry about how that first trip might work out and imagine all sorts of nightmare scenarios. So much so that it can prevent or significantly delay a visit by those who are interested.

To solve this problem we decided to make a short film that would illustrate the experience. We briefly considered filming a real first time experience. But if an initial visit is already very difficult for so many, adding the aspect of being filmed for public distribution seemed too challenging. So we opted for a fictional account based on real events.

It took a few years from concept to the start of production. It was Brady who finally made it possible because of his video editing knowledge and willingness to take on the technical aspects of the project.

Script

We know from decades of experience the concerns that are in people’s minds. It is typical for a first time person to nervously ask many question in advance and during the long drive to the park. So it was decided to adopt an improv format where one person, the ‘newbie’, would ask questions based on a point-form outline. The other, the experienced naturist, would answer them in their own words. Typical responses would be provided but they would be instructed to understand them not memorize them.

Casting

Who to cast was the subject of a great deal of deliberation. The first question was about gender. A male-female pair seemed a bit too cliché, unnecessarily heteronormative, and might suggest to some that only couples are welcome. (Which was certainly true of the naturist/nudist movement in the mid to late 20th century.) Two men were considered but we realized that it is women that have the greatest body image anxieties in our society so it was important to include them. We also looked for BIPOC inclusivity as that is still often a problem in naturist circles.

As far as age is concerned, we wanted to avoid the mainstream fallacy that all naturists are old. But we also didn’t want to use only very young people since that might seem exploitive. (It is common on exploitive websites only show teens and young adults, label as nudist/naturists, and misleadingly present them in sexually suggestive situations.) Our decision was to go with the middle ground; one is 35 and the other is 45 – we won’t tell you which one is which. 😁

Finally, we needed two experienced naturists who were willing to volunteer their time, be public about their participation in the movement, and could act. We were very lucky to find some incredible talent. Lauren has formal acting training and performs in community theatre. While Leslie didn’t have any acting experience, she is actually the most seasoned naturist of the two and her performance as the first time visitor speaks for itself. (As a result of this film, she has received many messages congratulating her for overcoming her fears.)

Lauren and Leslie have great chemistry in the film. You easily believe that they’ve been friends for years. Yet they did not know each other prior to making this film.

Filming

With our limited budget, we had to restrict ourselves to the use of three GoPro cameras (two HERO8s and one HERO9). We certainly could not afford the use of a process trailer to film the driving sequences. So Stéphane’s Chevrolet Bolt EV was selected because of it’s roomy interior and quiet ride. The three GoPros were mounted to the windshield. Lauren and Leslie were both fitted with wired lavalier microphones. Brady setup all the recording and monitoring equipment in the back seat. The Bolt’s flat floor allowed him to stay out of sight as we were filming. Brady also setup a clever system through his cell phone so that Stéphane could monitor the audio from his car as he was following. It allowed him to provide direction without his voice being recorded or heard by Lauren and Leslie.

The external scenes were also filmed with GoPros, either mounted to the outside of the car or simply hand-held by Brady.

Editing

There was a lot of good material because we did three complete takes and both Lauren and Leslie performed extremely well each time. We also had external running footage of the car and several takes of the registration scenes to incorporate. Brady had a lot of work to do in selecting the best scenes while ensuring that there was continuity throughout. We have since found a few subtle errors but we’ll leave it for others to post on IMDB. Fortunately, none of them are as bad as leaving a Starbucks cup in a fantasy medieval story scene. 😉

Sound editing was the bigger challenge. Lauren and Leslie each wore a lavalier microphone. Much to our surprise, the sound quality from the GoPro was better. However the sound level between the two of them was different as they were not at the same distance from the cameras.

Final Cut

Two versions were produced. The first one without any visible genitals, buttocks, or female nipples in order to satisfy the very restrictive “community standards” of most popular social media platforms. While the story is still effectively conveyed in this version, we felt that visually it seemed somewhat contrived at times and some cuts were a bit abrupt. So an uncensored “director’s cut” version was also created and posted to the Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park website.

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