Gillian Black. Filmmaker. Feminist. Uptight. Motherhood-phobic.
She’s the kind of girl who pickets porn shops for fun. On her kitchen wall, hangs an Equality Clock that she and her husband Hugh (Jim True-Frost) both punch faithfully, to keep track of the balance of responsibilities in their relationship. She’s the kind of girl who says things like “didn’t we just have sex last month”, and eyes Hugh with dread each time he enthusiastically chatters on about getting pregnant, beginning with the fertility chart he made of her most promising time of the month. In Fact, the closest thing Gillian (Kelly Hutchinson) has ever gotten to having an orgasm is probably when she receives the call that her film, Feminism for Dummies, has been excepted into the Cannes Film Festival.
The next day Gillian lands at the lab, ready to pick up her film print only to be told that she owes $50,000 before they will release it to her. Banks turn her down. Her parents laugh at her. Seemingly, she has no way to raise the money in less than a week; until she runs into an actor friend with an unfortunate stage name, Martin Breedlove (Wes Ramsey). Martin worked on Feminism for Dummies with Gillian. He suggests that she come by the studio where he is working on his latest film. Gillian could pitch to his producer. Maybe his producer will invest.
Producer Michaela Stark (Leila Robins) is currently looking for a way to rejuvenate her film business. Her latest idea: high-class high concept films using the classics like Shakespeare and Dickens. When her high-class art film director falls through, she eventually offers Gillian the magic $50,000 to re-write and direct the movie. The catch: The production company is Stealth Studios. The project: adult movies for “horny intellectuals.”
Ah, there’s the rub.
Gillian’s dream come true converges with her worst nightmare: getting to Cannes with her film vs. working on a porn. Can she participate in the making of pornography, an industry that demoralizes women? Does not the very idea fly in the face of everything a God-fear feminist believes? Can she convince her mother that the dozens of discovered Hustler magazines are research, having nothing to so with trying to get pregnant? Will she ever bring herself to say penis, instead of referring to the male organ as a chimichanga?
Or will being thrust into this world of flesh and fantasy trigger Gillian’s own sexual awakening, causing her to reevaluate her long-suffering feminist ideals?
I truly enjoyed this cast. Wesley Ramsey ( Latter Days) portrays Martin Breedlove as a sincere, extremely likable, classically trained actor who finds unexpected fame in the adult film industry and but still looks at each film as a genuine opportunity to do “good work.” Leslie Lyles is delightful as Gillian’s mom, a middle-aged woman in search of the right ingredient to rekindle the romance in her marriage. Jessica Leccia ( The Guiding Light) and Yolanda Ross ( Stranger Inside) are the two smart, together porn princesses These women are by no means destitute or desperate: the type that Gillian believed turned to adult films as a last resort. They don’t allow Gillian any assumptions, but they don’t deny Gillian the opportunity to change her mind either.
I love that this film does not actually have a villain. The antagonist is Michaela played by Laila Robins ( The Good Shepherd). She plays the film producer with a smarts and conniving that is almost admirable. It’s easy to see that she was on-screen talent at one point in her life, and that she will do anything to remain the place she has made for herself on the other side of the casting couch.
I loved Jim True-Frost ( The Wire) as the baby-obsessed Hugh. He was a really good guy without being a wimp. And come on, who wouldn’t love a guy that’s that gung-ho to make babies? I loved the dash of zaniness add by Brian Letscher’s over-the-top performance as boytoy Chad.
Sarah Schenck’s Slippery Slope is an entertaining labyrinth of misconceptions, which often dead-ends in misunderstand, but ultimately leads to the freedom of revelation. It’s a humorous examination of how most of us, to some degree, intentional or not, use sex to get what we want. It's the one arena where it is possible for a woman to possess as much power as any man.
Slippery Slope is written and directed by Sarah Schenck. It is another great discovery courtesy of the Broad Humor Film Festival. Now in its second year, Broad Humor is the only film festival specifically for comic works written and directed by women. One of four feature films screening at the festival August 24-26, Slippery Slope is a fine independent film that is bound to have its audience talking about sex. In a good way, of course.
Running Time: 80 mins.
Friday, August 24 at 7 pm
Electric Lodge Performing Arts Center
1416 Electric Ave., Venice CA
Tickets are $8.00 and can be purchased online at