Cam Girlz + Interview with Director Sean Dunne for Supplementaire #15 #NSFW

In Blog, Interviews, Nudes

Cam Girlz is a documentary film by American Filmmaker Sean Dunne. The film enters the previously undocumented world of online sex workers, and highlights their individual journeys toward self expression, economic freedom, empowerment, and at times even intimacy, all from the comfort of their own homes. Interview by Cully Wright for Supplementaire #15 #SEXbook. Print & digital editions available from the links below

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CW: Your past documentaries range in topic from coal mining and oxycontin, to bowling, to jugglers. What made you choose this particular topic?
SD: I try and focus my efforts on subject matter that may at first glance seem simple but upon diving in opens the viewer up to a world of questioning and understanding that they may not have had before. My previous films very much led me to making Cam Girlz. We were coming off making Oxyana and that film was extremely heavy. I knew I wanted to make something a little more fun but that could still provide that gut punch emotional connection. When I stumbled on the camming community it was obvious that I needed to make this film. The community really inspired me; they show such strength and grace despite having jobs that society doesn’t approve of. Seems like a better time than ever to give them a platform to have their voices heard.

CW: How did you decide on these particular girls to interview?
SD: We’re a very small group of people making this film and we don’t really have many resources at our disposal so when it came time to cast the women who would be in the film we relied heavily on social media, Twitter in particular. I had an idea in my head of what a cross section of this community would look like so we approached women who we thought could bring a lot to the table in terms of experience and insight about this world. A lot of girls ended up reaching out to us to be in the film. That made it easier. What also made it easier was the fact that, for the most part, cam girls are just fucken rad and easy going and fun to talk to, this was no exception.

CW: What was your emotional connection to this project?
SD: I think initially what drew me to this emotionally, was the idea of women becoming empowered and independent from camming. It felt like a classic underdog story, the girl next door pulls herself out of debt by being creative, focused, persistent and yes…naked. To me it felt like the type of story that would rub the right people the wrong way and I love that. This film is a giant fuck you to the establishment in a lot of ways.

CW: The overall message is one of empowerment, confident body image, connection, and positivity, however, one has to wonder, is there a darker and more damaging side to Camming?
SD: I think so and we focus on some of that side of things but honestly, in my experience in making this film, the “dark” side of this industry is a bit overplayed and probably the result of people being worried about or dismissive of sex workers, attitudes that I find extremely condescending and offputting. This might not be the case everywhere, but camming strikes me as a very safe form of self-expression and making money. No one was doing this against their will and beyond the emotional impact of having a slow night or facing a disapproving family, I don’t see the harm in this type of work. The dark cloud that hangs over this industry probably has more to do with misunderstanding than anything. Hopefully our film can clear some of that stuff up.

CW: Furthermore, is there a darker and more damaging side to too much sexual freedom?
SD: Nah.

CW: There is a girl who mentions that one of her regulars leaves his wife and wants to move to be closer to her, were there more stories like this?
SD: Yeah, I think that unfortunately that comes with the territory. The complexity of those relationships is something that really interested me about this community. It reminds me a lot of Spike Jonze’s movie “Her”. As the technology improves I think people will begin to feel the connection more, and with that new layers of emotional complexity beyond just sexuality will creep in, and you’ll have jackasses considering leaving their families for a 2D image they’ve “fallen” for. I suspect there will be many movies made about these issues as we evolve more into web-based life forms.

CW: Did you find that any of the girls worried or concerned about their personal safety?
SD: I assume they all are in some way. Most of the women we spoke to seem to have everything in control on that front. The cam sites allow you to block certain regions so what a lot of the cam girls do is simply block anyone in the state or city they live in from even seeing them. That said, there are some mutha fuckin’ CRAZIES out there and that’s always a concern. They do their best to mitigate those risks and help each other stay safe.

CW: Do you feel there is a fine line between empowerment and playing into the idea that women are for pleasure, purchase and objectification?
SD: Absolutely, a very fine line. That’s part of the fun in making a documentary like this, not spelling it out for the viewer but allowing them to take it all in and make that call for themselves. My hope is that Cam Girlz starts a nuanced dialogue about empowerment versus objectification. I think what a film like this does is it gives people an excuse to blow the dust off their preexisting notions about sexuality and feminism.

CW: Is web-camming considered pornography or prostitution, both, or neither?
SD: I’m not really sure. To me it feels like this new thing that doesn’t fit neatly into either of those categories but instead encompasses both and I’d also argue that webcamming is art in the form of filmmaking. They are filmmakers, they’re porn stars and they’re sex workers all at once… and many other things.

CW: How did your opinions differ from the start of filming to the end? Did they?
SD: When I initially had this idea I think I pictured a film that was louder and more boisterous than the one we made. That was probably due my inexperience with that world. What I quickly realized was that there was something more subtle and interesting going on beyond just boobs. That process helped me and the film matured beyond simply viewing them as sex workers and this as a sex doc. So I wouldn’t say my opinions have necessarily changed, but my consciousness has been expanded.

CW: As a filmmaker, you can basically paint a world as you want, is it important to stay objective in the process?
SD: Sure, that’s important but it almost becomes an afterthought when you’re in the shit actually making the film. What I do is try to look at the subject matter as objectively as possible from the beginning. I focus on creating and sharpening a set of guiding principles that are unique to each film. Once you’re out there shooting, or more importantly, editing, it’s really easy to get lost in the fog of war and make silly, self-gratifying decisions that sway the film too far in one direction or another. Those are the moments when you just take a step back and remember why you’re doing this and what you’re doing. For Cam Girlz I just kept going back to this idea that the more I removed myself and just gave the girls the platform almost to the point of making it seem like they made it and that this would resonate with the audience and give them the most well rounded viewing experience.

CW: Do you find personal opinions creeping in and swaying decisions?
SD: I don’t think I could call myself a director if I didn’t.

CW: So, what makes a successful “CamGirl”? Is there an ideal?
SD: Strong business sense and a willingness to stay in the moment, go with the flow and not let the highs and lows shake you. There are so many ways to be a successful cam girl, but those qualities really help.

CW: It seems that the beauty of the industry is that there is someone or something for everyone. Do you find this to be true?
SD: Well said, there is someone for everyone. That’s the beauty of this industry and the beauty of this new age of connectivity.

CW: So, you would consider this a legitimate industry?
SD: Yes and it’s very reflective of a paradigm shift in the way we look at business and power.

CW: Before this project, what was your opinion of camming?
SD: Girl next door trying to get through college by getting naked on the internet.

CW: And now?
SD: Girl next door trying to get through college by getting naked on the internet, who also happens to own her house, employ her boyfriend, has a retirement plan and an exit strategy.

CW: I love the first guy interviewed, who says; “the girls give him a confidence that he didn’t have before” do you think this “confidence” is false, legitimate or should we even give a shit that this guy feels good about himself?
SD: I believe in whatever gets you through the day. Confidence is an important thing in this life, if he can gain it by typing to some naked girls on the internet then why the fuck not?

CW: So, is this where sexual connection is heading in the age of technology?
SD: Hmm, I wish I knew. It’s going to be hard to replace or replicate the real thing but I could certainly see it continuing in this direction. I mean from here on out there’s only going to be better and safer ways to fuck your computer but we’re also living in an age where technology is ushering in new levels of human connection in ways we haven’t seen before. Look at Tinder and Grindr. I mean what the fuck, it must be a damn fuck fest out there? I think people are starting to wake up and embrace technology when it comes to sexuality. To me, camming is the perfect intersection of reality, technology and sexuality. Where it goes from here, who knows? My guess is that our computers will soon be fucking us… possibly against our will. Wait, are they already?

CW: Who was your favourite “CamGirl” you interviewed and why?
SD: Ahhh, I can’t play favourites. They were all so fucking generous with their time and their opinions and all the nudity. Its impossible to pick just one.

CW: where can people see this documentary, and when?
SD: Its available now for purchase or rental on our website www.CamGirlzDoc.com

CW: What’s next for Sean Dunne?
SD: I just finished another film called Florida Man that will came out the same time as Cam Girlz. Next we are starting work a documentary series called Rabbit Holes. People can follow me on twitter to stay up to date on all this craziness, @seanveryape

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