Sex lies and videotape
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sex, lies, and videotape. Circumstances of Production. Soderbergh and the Road to sex, lies, and videotape.

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Sex lies and videotape

sex, lies, and videotape

Circumstances of Production

Soderbergh and the road to sex lies and videotape

Soderbergh and the Road tosex, lies, and videotape

  • Early 1980s: Soderbergh traveled back and forth between Los Angeles and home town of Baton Rouge, LA, attempting to work in industry; works in TV documentary short production, post-production firm, spec script writing

  • 1985: Directs Yes: 9012 Live concert film for band, Yes

  • 1987: Completes Winston, a short film that Soderbergh calls “version of sex, lies, and videotape, the story of a woman who creates an imaginary life for herself so she can keep a man who was after her at a distance” (Steven Soderbergh: Interviews 19)

  • Late 1987: Soderbergh writes sex, lies, and videotape script over eight-day move from Baton Rouge to Los Angeles, while reflecting upon desire to change his behavior, which he parallels to John’s

Autobiographical content

Autobiographical Content

“I was involved in a relationship with a woman in which I was deceptive and mentally manipulative. I got involved with a number of other women simultaneously . . . Another six months of this behavior—this went on for the better part of a year—and I would have been, bare minimum, alcoholic and, going on from there, mentally screwed up. . . . I just became somebody that, if I knew them, I would hate” (Interview in Connoisseur 10/1991, reprinted in Biskind, Down and Dirty Pictures 40).

Financing and shooting

Financing and Shooting

  • Early 1988: Soderbergh gives script to his agent, who markets to producers Robert Newmyer (Outlaw Productions) and Nancy Tenenbaum (Overseas Entertainment) who negotiate $1.2 million deal with RCA/Columbia Home Video and Virgin for domestic and foreign video rights

  • Producers took on task of selling theatrical distribution rights if RCA/Columbia passed on “first look” deal

  • Shooting lasts 30 days, with Soderbergh rewriting some dialogue to fit characters and improvisations actors had developed during rehearsal

Screening and reception

Screening and Reception

  • 1/1989: film premieres at U.S. Film Festival (Sundance)

  • Screens at American Film Market; Miramax purchases distribution rights for $1 million, and markets film as “quality indie” production

  • Film screens at Cannes, where it wins Palm d’Or

  • Opens May 1989 in U.S. on 350 screens, then expands nationwide (“platform” release)

  • Film grosses $24 million domestically

  • sex, lies, and videotape’s success prompts investment in similar psychologically oriented films

Image Source: Senses of Cinema

Screening elements

Screening Elements

  • Editing, particularly crosscutting between spaces and times, with or without sound bridges

  • Camera movement, particularly tracking and zooms

  • Implicit meanings/themes: Gender relations, honesty and dishonesty, technology and self-discovery and self-revelation

  • Symptomatic meanings: sex and relationships in the post-AIDS era, contemporary “yuppie” life

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