Earlier this month, Hollyshorts presented a first-class slate of short-films, with women filmmakers the focus of attention. One stand out short, The Tampon, gave audiences a candid glimpse into the reality of a woman’s world.
Following a night of heavy drinking, an art student comes face to face with the complexities of consent in her college sorority after finding her bloody tampon on the floor. She hooked up with her friend Alex that night, but since she browned out, she doesn’t remember exactly how her tampon got there.
The next morning she laughs about it with her friends at brunch. She finds the idea so funny that she even pitches it as an art installation to her teacher, who points out the issue of consent in her story. She brushes it off, but after attempting a brainstorming session with Alex, she realizes that the incident and her world might not be as hilarious as she initially thought.
An incredibly dark comedy, The Tampon does its best not to take sides, and instead, explores multiple points of views that make up the sum of a culture in which this regularly happens. It hopes to show the world as it is, without the villains or heroes we like to cast each other as. Take a look at the trailer below:
This candid and comical short film was written by Matisse Rose Haddad, directed by Erica Ortiz, and produced by Melissa Purner and Jessica Ornstein. We had a chance to speak with all three.
What was the inspiration behind The Tampon?
Matisse Rose Haddad (Writer): I began writing The Tampon during the fall of 2018 during the Kavanaugh hearings. When Christine Blasey Ford bravely came before the Senate Judiciary Committee, a palpable wave of grief crashed down on almost every woman I know — and of course, thousands who I don’t.
It seemed that this distress was an expression of reliving societal patterns that most women are all too familiar with. I noticed a palpable theme: almost every woman I know has been sexually assaulted, yet no men in my orbit have ever admitted to assaulting anyone. The numbers here don’t add up. It got me thinking: Are men assaulting people and not knowing it?
Are they just not admitting it? Or are they privately coming to these realizations while publicly saving face? What exactly is going on here? From these questions, these stories and characters were born; and along with it, an examination of how our culture sets us up for failure when it comes to sexual intimacy.
How did you prepare for this film? What was the most significant part of the message?
Erica Ortiz (Director): As a director being approached to create a film about the sensitive subject matter of consent, I felt that it was very important to have an in depth conversation with our main cast about their personal thoughts, viewpoints, and feelings revolving around this complex societal issue. I felt that it was necessary to create a safe space for everyone and made sure to discuss any and all concerns throughout the filmmaking process.
The most significant part of our film’s message is that every person’s experience revolving around consensual issues is unique, complex, and has layers. It is necessary to have honest conversations in order to bring awareness. Conversation is needed to cultivate change and inspire people to do better.
How did you approach bringing this story to life?
Ortiz: When I approached bringing this story to life, I really focus on the humanity of all characters. I didn’t want to place judgement on any one character. The characters are human, having a human experience and I hope that is something that shows within the film. I made sure to ask myself how did they get here? It was very important for me to focus on the character’s inner truth and capture nuances that showed their slow discovery of the truth.
What was the difficult part of production?
Melissa Purner (Producer): The most difficult part of production was working on a tight budget, with a short production schedule and even tighter post schedule. Every detail had to be closely monitored because we were racing against time and money.
What can viewers take away from this film?
Matisse Rose Haddad (Writer): Primarily, we hope that survivors of sexual assault can watch our film and feel seen through Moose’s story. There is often a long, painful journey for survivors to come to terms with their sexual assault, and we hope that our movie might help women feel that they are not alone.
Perhaps our greatest wish is for the audience to leave the film, wanting to reflect on themselves and past actions. This is a film meant to encourage discussion and examination both in our culture at large and within ourselves.
The Tampon is currently on the festival circuit.
Jessica Velle is writer from Los Angeles, CA. She focuses on shining a light on culturally diverse stories.