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My Year Without Sex – Sarah Watt interview

Our friends at 3CR interviewed writer and director Sarah Watt in her new Australian film ‘My Year Without Sex’. Starring Matt Day and Sacha Horler, if you are looking for a laugh, the humour is wry and infectious.

‘My Year Without Sex’ comes out in Australian cinemas on the 28th of May. How are preparations going in the lead up to release? Is anticipation building?

Yeah, I think so. We had some preview screenings this weekend. So, people are starting to see it, which is very exciting – and nerve wracking!

I happened to catch one of those preview screenings and I’m happy to report that there was a lot of laughter in the cinema – at all the right parts.

That’s good! That’s very good.

The title of the film came from the fact that you didn’t want to direct another sex scene – why is that the case?

It came out of a joke about directing sex scenes. I think they’re very hard to do well. Often, they’re done really badly. It’s hard not to be clichéd so; I didn’t want to try, because I don’t think I’m a good enough director. But then, how do you make a film without a sex scene in it? You just call it, ‘My Year Without Sex’! So, it was kind of a joke at the start but in the end it worked really well with the content and the themes that I wanted to explore about consumerism and anxiety and all those things. Sex kind of belongs in there.

How do you think the characters deal with anxiety and stress?

I think they deal with them in the way most people try to deal with things. Sometimes well and sometimes not so well. They definitely struggle with that idea of when they can control things and when they can’t control things. If they think that they can’t control anything, then that’s depressing. If you can control it, then how? What method do you use? Do you pray, or do you touch wood? I think most of us do all those kinds of things.

Maud Davey, an amazing actress, plays a very religious character in the film – what role did you want religion to play?

I would have loved to put in hundreds of different faiths, but I just had to choose one to go with. To explore the idea that faith can actually help, but that you can’t necessarily go there if you’re not culturally born to it. Or, born again, in some cases. It’s just another way that some people find meaning in their day.

You’ve said that you prefer to make films that are, in a way, based on your own life experiences. Do you find that you have to be comfortable with the subject matter before you create the film – or does that come through the cathartic process of creating?

I don’t think its cathartic, because I don’t think any answers come during the process. Although, I suppose in the writing of it… But it’s not really about me. They are my thoughts and ideas that go into it. I guess it’s the writing experience that is the exploration. By the time it’s a script, it’s quite removed from you.

Do you see much of yourself do you see in Sacha’s [Horler] character? Is the way she deals with things similar to you?

Not really. I suppose aspects of… She keeps her house a little tidier than me [laughs]. Sacha brought her own things to the character and I was actually basing it on another friend of mine. It all gets muddied down to become someone new.

In your previous film, ‘Look Both Ways’, you wrote a role specifically for your husband, William McInnes. Did you have either Matt Day or Sacha Horler in mind when you were writing ‘My Year Without Sex’? What made them great fits for the roles?

No, we just auditioned widely and those two seemed to fit the best. Both of them are great actors. With Sacha, it was her lack of vanity, when it comes to a role. And to transform just as the camera is rolling. She thinks through everything. So, it’s really on her face. With Matt, he was willing to forego being the ‘alpha male’ to be a dag [laughs]. And I just really believe them together too.

William [McInnes] plays an hilariously funny cameo character. You’ve said his comedic side is under utilised, tell us about this side of him as an actor.

He’d be a hilarious character actor. That’s what he does most of the time, imitate people and do impersonations. He hasn’t had the chance to show that off to the wider world. So, this was just him doing a special little impersonation.

‘My Year Without Sex’ opens in cinemas Australia-wide on Thursday 28th May 2009.

Written and Directed by:
Sarah Watt
Starring: Matt Day and Sacha Horler
Produced by: Bridget Ikin

Catch Ginger and the ladies on ‘Girly is Good’ from 2pm on Sundays on 3CR. Interview by Hayley Van Es.

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