(rough cut) Featured on Short Of The Week by Sidney Leeder

-By Celine Roustan shortoftheweek.com

Before the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements thankfully blew up, Sidney Leeder and Walter Woodman (Noah) co-wrote (rough cut). An extremely powerful and effective film looking to shed a little light on the disconcerting politics that can occur on a film set, this brief but resonating short gives its viewers a behind-the-scenes look at an actress on the morning of her first sex scene.

Inspired by the lack of control in her own acting career, put into perspective with her experience behind the camera, Leeder enlisted co-writer/director Woodman to help her craft a film exploring the often complex relationship between actor and director.

(rough cut) is one of many potential scenarios of sexual pressure between a male director and a female actor. However by negotiating the logistics of a sex scene, particularly full nudity the writing duo has crafted a thought provoking expose of the Male Gaze and of the systemic problem of the film industry.. not far from the experiences of many women (and men) in the industry that finally got out a year later.

To convey such a poignant story, the filmmakers used a style that is an integral part of the storytelling – the rough cut. Adopting this approach not only highlights the non magical side of filmmaking, but also gives the audience an insight into what a film looks like before hitting the screen. That voyeur-ish, unblinking, point of view makes us, the audience, feel uncomfortably complicit of the abuse.

The unpolished and raw look relies heavily on the performances of the cast, specifically Leeder’s subtleness. The tight filmmaking team created a safe set allowing intimate long takes and embracing improvisation. Delivering an extremely natural looking film that will stick with you.

(rough cut) premiered in the Shorts Cuts of Tiff 2016, it is however even more relevant today in a world post-October 2017. Both Leeder and Woodman are multidisciplinary artists currently working on new projects in their different ventures.

And if you like the film, you might be interested in checking out the longer version over on VIEW Entertainment Group’s Vimeo – we went for the shorter version as we actually found it more impactful and resonating.

Reflecting on '(rough cut)' by Sidney Leeder

-By Sidney Leeder

Last year I wrote, produced and acted in the experimental short film '(rough cut)', which explores sexual politics in the film industry. It premiered at TIFF 2016 and although I was thrilled to be granted such a grand stage, I was also a little (ok, a lot!) terrified to be shedding light on a subject that is most often kept secret. Ironically, while my presence could not have been larger (literally), I had never felt so small. It was my voice on the screen yet I was reluctant to own it. I found myself unable to stand confidently behind the very story I had willingly exposed.  

In fact if it weren't for my cousin prying me out of bed I wouldn't have gone to the screening at all. Once in the theatre I dodged my reserved seat and bolted to the back row, wishing I'd melt into the wall. When given the opportunity to join a post-screening filmmaker Q&A I remained seated, paralyzed by the notion that my opinions & actions would be judged; that my family, friends & colleagues would know the manipulation I'd encountered as a female in the film industry. I wish I'd had the courage then to stand behind my work but couldn't overcome the fear I felt in being associated with the subject. Like so many for so long, I stayed silent. 

By sharing this film now, I hope to communicate a portion of the female perspective. For many, the film's message may be unclear. Aptly named, '(rough cut)' is an imperfect and uncomfortable exposé, exploring one of many potential scenarios of sexual pressure: that of an actress and a director negotiating the filming of a sex scene. 

It's been incredibly inspiring to see so many women step forward and share their stories as of late. Sexual harassment and exploitation in the film industry is a complex topic that warrants exposure & discussion. It's a fact of life that will never change as long as we collectively continue to ignore it. 

As a female filmmaker, I'm compelled to support an open dialogue that leads to understanding and mutual respect between men and women while collaborating.