On college campuses, it is not unusual to see promotional posters for a cappella groups, leadership organizations or internship opportunities stapled to bulletin boards. But posters flaunting brassy, bold letters saying “Porn: The Musical” are more than enough to make someone’s head turn.
“Porn: The Musical” is an absurdist, musical-comedy film about a director’s dream to produce the perfect porn. It is being directed by seniors Erin Nydick and Meghan Malone as part of their senior thesis. Nydick and Malone said by tackling topics like sex and gender roles, they hope to make taboo subjects less taboo and open an insightful conversation among people.
The duo got the idea for this project over the summer during a discussion of cultural relativism and the stark contrast toward sexuality among countries.
“We got on the topic of America versus Europe and how people seem much more free about sexuality and nudity there,” Malone said. “We thought, ‘What if we actually made pornography for our senior thesis, but with a great plot?’ So the ideas started rolling after that.”
Senior Robert Adler, producer of the film, said production of the film began in late July. Currently, they have about a week left of shooting, then will enter post-production and be finished in December.
“I’ve been working on this production since July when the directors decided that I would be the first person they brought onto the project,” he said. “It’s been an absolute thrill getting to be the head of production on such a large-scale thesis.”
The musical incorporates many aspects of films other than the cliches found in pornography. Instead of focusing on the raw sexuality and female objectification often associated with porn, the musical emphasizes the personalities and emotions of the characters. Part of the plot includes a love triangle between a porn star who has a crush on her co-star and the sound guy who sits quietly offstage, Nydick said.
“A lot of the comedy comes from the idea that they’re real characters,” Malone said. “It’s funny because we know what they’re going through. People can relate to them. We’re just taking it to the next comedic level.”
Nydick said aside from being a musical about pornography, the fact that both of the directors are female will distinguish the production, revealing a commentary on both the porn industry and the movie industry.
“The fact that Meghan and I are women and are directing something to this scale — that in itself is a little bit empowering,” Nydick said. “I hope it gives inspiration to more women directors in general because honestly, there should be more out there. Women have great minds for directing, and I know the industry right now, as well as the college level, is dominated by men.”
Malone said she hopes “Porn: The Musical” will keep the audience entertained but also help them think about what has come to be accepted by society and why porn doesn’t have to be shrouded in sexist stigma.
“We want people to come out of the theater and say, ‘Wow, this was made by women directors’ and ‘Wow, this was a crazy subject to cover, but I can accept it and this is OK,’” Malone said. “I hope this inspires people to re-evaluate their passions and pursue their passions and not always let the higher-ups dictate the way they go about doing the things they care about.”
Malone said the cast consists of 15 students, mainly out of the theater department, and the crew has 30 students, most of whom are students in the Roy H. Park School of Communications. She added that the team also includes students from the School of Music, giving the production team many strengths.
“We are doing something right now that has rarely, if ever, been done before,” Malone said. “We’re collaborating with not only the Park School, but most of our cast is from Dillingham, and we have composers and musicians from Whalen. It’s men and women coming together to work on such an incredible project.”