Throwback Interview: How To Have Sex Director Molly Manning Walker

In this throwback interview from 2020, director Molly Manning Walker talks about her short film Good Thanks, You? , the meaning behind it, and what she hopes to achieve through it.

Molly has since gone on to director the feature film, How To Have Sex. You can read our review here.

After seeing “Good Thanks, You?” as part of the BFI London Film Festival this year, I was struck with how brilliantly it opened up the topic of sexual assault for people to openly talk about it. As your directional debut, and something very close to heart, what was it like to create something like this with such depth and importance?

In away its deeply therapeutic and also very traumatising. It’s a very personal story – I was sexually assaulted when I was 16. The assault was something I felt I could deal with but the conversation around the assault was very traumatising. My doctor refused to give me the morning after pill until I told the police. The police told me it wasn’t worth prosecuting and yet continued interrogate me. My school sent me a letter (that I still have) that says ‘If this was to happen to anyone you’re the best person for it’. Even at the age of 16 I was really shocked. I wanted support, I wanted someone to believe me, to listen to me. I wanted to be able to talk about it freely without all the air in the room being sucked out. I had always wanted to make a film about being questioned and told your okay but never really being supported and that’s where “Good Thanks, You?” came about. The process was amazing because I really got to interrogate it for the first time. We had a councillor and a intimacy co-ordinator on set who were both amazing. I felt by making the film I finally had the chance to get closure. During the process so many people reached out to say that had experienced sexual assault. It’s totally upsetting but really comforting to know there are others out there and hopefully the film opens up a space for a less stigmatised discussion. 

It can be so tough to come across as respectful in a film that touches on sexual assault, but like I’ve said, your short really does well in giving the survivor a voice in a realistic way. Now that you’ve tackled this story, is it something that you’d like to move on from, or look at again in the future?

Yeah, definitely I would love to keep exploring consent and assault as a topic. I’m really passionate about changing the conversation surrounding it. 

Jasmine Jobson, who stars as Amy, does an incredible job in showing the fluctuations of feelings as well as the stages of the aftermath. How did you make sure that the cast gave the performances that you wanted, but in a way that was respectful to them and their feelings?

Jasmine is a complete powerhouse. She shot this film during her 3 days off from a feature… It was really important to us that she (and the whole cast and crew) was protected throughout. Sorcha Bacon (one of the producers) was really paramount in making sure there were intimacy co-ordinators and councillors available for all. It was pretty incredible for a short and I’m eternally grateful because I’m not sure the film would have been made without the support. 

The script really is clever, pulling in real and stupid questions that are asked by police, pushing victims down. Were there any hopes with the making of this film to start conversations with more than just the audience?

Yeah, we are actually in the midst of trying to organise an event with the police / medical professions and teachers to see how we can move the conversation forward.

It was amazing watching the credits and learn that 90% of the production and post-production roles were occupied by women. What was it like working on a female focused film, looking at the topics you did and compared to the industry right now?

It was really great and needed. I spend a lot of time as a DOP surrounded by men. I don’t think you really realise the full impact of that until you get the chance to experience something different. Things are slowly changing but in my opinion it’s way too slow – it’s all been a long time coming. Watching film and TV is how we learn how to exist on this planet – I think we have to remember this. 

With striking colours and beautiful visuals, it’s no wonder that your film has been part of so many film festivals. What’s it like knowing that so many people have seen your story? Are there any comments about it that will stick with you?

I think there’s something really special about the 2020 festival circuit and that is that it has existed mostly online. Due to this so many more people have seen it than they would have, if it had been in a festival circuit that is more exclusive. As any director does you just want as many people to see it as possible. For me the really special moments have been phone calls that I have received from distant friends who want to confide in me having seen the film. 

I know that you have a feature film in the works, which is a big jump from a short, but an amazing achievement. IS there anything else in the works that we can get excited for with you?

Lots of things bubbling! 

Title image by Anna MacDonald

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