London Short Film Festival | 2020
"I think as a director you constantly underestimate your creative abilities so although I have complete faith in ‘Call On Me’ and I am very proud of it, I feel very humbled that it is going to be screened at such an elite film festival amongst so many other fabulous films!"
CALL ON ME
Dir. Imogen Legrove
DOCUMENTARY: HETEROSEXUAL SOCIAL CONTRACT
Stories of phone sex operators, and the reality of their work.
Hi Imogen, thanks for talking to TNC, how is your 2020 going?
Thank you for having me. 2020 is going great so far, definitely feels like a new and fresh year for me.
Congratulations on having Call On Me selected to the 2020 LSFF, what does it mean to you to be part of the festival?
Thanks so much! I think as a director you constantly underestimate your creative abilities so although I have complete faith in ‘Call On Me’ and I am very proud of it, I feel very humbled that it is going to be screened at such an elite film festival amongst so many other fabulous films!
Are there any nerves ahead of your screening at the ICA?
Of course! It’s always a little nerve-racking having a roomful of people experiencing your film you have put everything into. But I also feel that exhibiting is one of the most empowering moments during the creative process for filmmakers as you get to see your audience's reaction. Discovering how your work has made them think and feel a certain way is possibly one of the biggest reasons why I want to keep creating.
What are some of the challenges an independent filmmaker faces?
Sometimes doing what you love and also getting paid doesn’t go hand in hand. But thankfully the film industry is becoming more aware of the importance of paid work. As well as this, I would say a huge challenge is ensuring you don’t get inside your own head and start doubting your creative decision making because it’s difficult sometimes to just trust yourself and your initial instincts with the project.
Can you talk about Call On Me, how did the film come about?
Call On Me is an experimental, documentary film that has been fused with the fiction genre and it explores phone sex operators and the reality behind their work. I have always been drawn to intimacy, and I initially started this piece by just exploring why phone sex still has such a niche interest especially in such a modern time when you can access porn for free, anywhere at any time on your smartphone or laptop. So why do people pay for it? The answer I came to was that people are lonely and they want a real intimate connection with another human being. Once myself and my Producer (Demitra Coulson) started calling up the adult lines to talk to these women we then came to realise how different they were in reality to how they portrayed themselves over the phone. It was almost like a form of acting, their job was to become whatever their client's ultimate fantasy was- which absolutely fascinated me!
"Yet again proving how anyone could access this job and do it anonymously and become whoever the client wanted them to be."
What was the inspiration behind the (film)?
Something me and my DOP (Oliver Craig) worked very hard to accomplish was to find the balance between fiction and documentary. Even though the interviews are all real, the visuals on the screen are not as we fictionalised the characters visibly to keep an anonymous tone. We studied a lot of documentary photographers, especially Wolfgang Tillmans, who we adopted a lot of composition, colour blocking and framing techniques from.
What has been the most valuable lessons you've taken from making Call On Me?
We spoke to a lot of different women, it was so eye-opening hearing all of their stories and each woman was vastly different from the next. The stereotype around call girls is that they are young, single, ditsy, blonde hair with big boobs, but behind the phone, they are real women from all different backgrounds; class, ethnicities, ages, sexualities etc. Yet again proving how anyone could access this job and do it anonymously and become whoever the client wanted them to be.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
I was far too young to understand the film properly at the time, but when I was thirteen I watched Donnie Darko, and it just really stuck with me. I never knew that film could be so thought-provoking and I guess without even knowing it I gradually understood that filmmaking was an art form that I needed to be involved in.
"Whilst some people assume that sex is - or should be - like what they see in porn, the reality is - it's very different. "
What has been the best piece of advice you've been given?
My tutor at university once said to me “reality is a lot more interesting than fiction” and that really is true.
What are you currently working on?
I definitely feel like the fusion of documentary and fiction is something I would love to explore deeper, at the moment my brain is scattered with new ideas and ambitions, and I am in the process of piecing them all together in order to get to the next stage of pitching it to funders.
And finally, what do you hope audiences will take away from Call On Me?
Pornography is not meant to be sex education, its fiction. But what we chose to do was alter this perception and really reveal the nitty-gritty parts of it. Whilst some people assume that sex is - or should be - like what they see in porn, the reality is - it's very different. We believe the importance of educating this very important message and hope people leave the screening understanding that they need to identify the difference between sexual fantasies and reality when it comes to the adult industry.