Trauma and pleasure. Two things that are different, yet when it comes to sex, the one sometimes can bring shame to the other. One is not our fault, the trauma that happens to us, so why do we feel shame about feeling good when it comes to sex? Obviously, this isn’t the case for everyone, but the film “I’ll Show You Mine” makes you think about all of these things, or at least it does it for me. And that means that this film is a great one.
“I’ll Show You Mine” is directed by Megan Griffiths, one of my favorite filmmakers working today. Megan was a long-time collaborator with Lynn Shelton, and like Lynn, she is a filmmaker who brings the topics that scare most people (as in “Sadie” and “Eden”) and explores them in a more safe, digestible, and humanistic way.
“I’ll Show You Mine” is about Priya (Poorna Jagannathan), an author who explores sexual trauma in her work. Working on a new book, she spends a weekend interviewing her nephew Nic (nephew by marriage), played by Casey Thomas Brown, about his trauma and sexual escapades as a model and influencer. What starts out as merely a provocative comedy goes into the dark corners of where trauma can take us. If you stay with the journey of the film, you will come out a better person, just like the characters. It is such a good film for this reason too.
I had the opportunity to speak with Megan about this brilliant film, and we spoke about what drew her to this project. It began with a script written in collaboration with Tiffany Louquet, Elizabeth Searle, and David Shields. We talked about how good Poorna Jagannathan and Casey Thomas Brown were in the film, and how people should see this film for their performances.
“I’ll Show You Mine” is now playing in select theaters and you can stream VOD on iTunes. There will be a special screening event tonight at the Arena Cinelounge Sunset in Los Angeles with Megan, Poorna, Casey, and producers Mel Eslyn and Lacey Leavitt Gray doing a Q&A following the 7:45 PM screening. Get your tickets here.
How did you come to this project, and what drew you to this project in particular?
Early during the pandemic, I was looking for material that I felt we could tackle in a more contained way. Years earlier, I had been attached to a project written by two writers, Tiffany Louquet, and David Shields. Then during the pandemic, I went back to them to see if they still had it, but it had been optioned by someone else. They did have another script that they had been tinkering with, and they shared that. The script was for “I’ll Show You Mine.” I was drawn to the script because it dealt with so many topics that I was interested in exploring, and personally learning more about. I always am excited by a project when it gives me a reason to dig into new topics. And I was really fascinated by these two characters and their conversation that they had. I thought it was a perfect project for the time that we had to make it.
Can you talk about how you got Poorna Jagannathan and Casey Thomas Brown onto this project, and how was it working with them?
They both came from connections that the Duplass Brothers Productions had. Poorna had been in an episode of Room 104, for HBO. She was completely off-screen, but I was so in love with her performance in this episode (Season 1, Episode 5 “The Internet”). And I loved her in In the Night Of and Never Have I Ever. Her name came up really early during the casting process. Mark Duplass had a direct line to her, and reached out to her to see if the film was something that interested her, and thankfully it did.
And for Casey, Mel Eslyn, the President of Duplass Brothers, had sent the script out to a friend of hers to read it. Her friend said, ‘this character is Casey.’ We didn’t know him yet. I met with him and we had this great conversation. He just clearly knew this character, Nic. He felt so close to him personally. Casey could bring so much of his personal life experience to the role, and was so ready to dive in for this challenge. We shot this movie in seven days.
There was a lot of memorization and a lot of bearing of souls. It was a big ask with the actors and they both were game and ready to jump in. I’m incredibly proud of this film, and honestly I want people to see it the most because of the actors performances in it. I think they should be seen.
I agree! I love how layered this film is. I wasn’t expecting the film to go as deep as it did, and it really moved me. I also loved the journey, and how the film ended on an uplifting note.
Sexual trauma was an underlying theme in this film with how it relates to feeling pleasure in your own life, and how you’re able to move on from it. Can you comment on how all of these difficult and uncomfortable topics were brought to the screen?
There’s so much trauma in the world, and so much of us who carry it in its various forms. I didn’t want it to feel like a film that delved into that and then left you traumatized afterwards. I didn’t want it to be this burden on the audience. What I was hoping to dig into was the fact that when we bury our trauma and we push it down, and never air it out or discuss it, it just erodes inside us. It just makes this lasting impact on our lives.
We’re all formed by the things that we go through in life. I don’t think necessarily that everything that comes out of trauma ends in a negative result in our lives. It’s a complicated conversation. I just really wanted the film to represent both the complexity of trauma and its impacts, and the fact that there is hope in just having conversations that share our innermost serious and shameful secrets. Because once they’re out of you, it can really lift your whole spirit, you know? I just really wanted the film to convey that.
I wanted to talk about the illustration and animation element to the film. I really feel like the visual component added to the conversation helped with alleviating the more traumatic moments in the conversations. Can you talk about that?
That was something that was built into the script, these animated moments, and the comic panels too. The animation and the illustrations are in separate styles by different artists. The comic panels are by an illustrator, Jem Milton, who is from Scotland, and I still have yet to meet them in person. But we found them through channels of people who created these more “risque” comics. Having the comic panels was one way to break up the film into chapters, but also a way to have a little lift between the heavier conversations because the illustrations are funny in dark and sexual ways.
The animation is done by Neely Goniodsky. She is a Seattle animator who I had met years before, and then we connected for this movie because I love how emotionally evocative her work is. I wanted to get that kind of energy into these recollections that the characters are having. I’ve done a lot of research about trauma and one of the things that came up a few times was that it is not remembered in a linear, organized way. So I wanted the animation to really try to capture that and the emotional feelings of those moments, as opposed to the literal facts of those moments.
The film for me was really hard to watch, but I’m glad I went on the journey. When I got to the end, I was like, ‘Yes, this is such an important film to see.’
I loved how at the end you dedicated the film to Lynn Shelton. I really feel she would have loved it. Like you, she isn’t afraid to dive into uncomfortable subjects, and can bring these kind of stories to the screen in interesting ways. Can you talk about that?
I agree, I think the subject matter of the film would have really fascinated her. We collaborated a lot, and one of the things that we collaborated on that never saw the light of day was a script about polyamory. We talked a lot about that subject and the interest there. Also, the way that the film was made felt so in line with some of her early work before TV. Like when we were making “Your Sister’s Sister,” there were just a few of us working together in one place, and we were just focused on one small group of people dealing with their inner turmoils. There was an openness on set, and a safety bubble around the people involved. The making of “I’ll Show You Mine” all felt very Lynn-like.
And not to spoil the ending for anyone, but when we were doing the end scene and the music is playing, and Casey is dancing, we all danced behind the cameras too, just to make him feel more comfortable. It just made me think it was such a Lynn moment because she was always dancing around when there was music on set.
I wanted to touch a little more on the script. It’s so good and I love how it spawned from collaboration.
Yes, they laid such beautiful groundwork for what we were able to do on set. It felt like there was so much richness in the script that we could use that script to keep weaving in new and interesting things that we were finding in the moment.
What do you hope people see in your film?
It’s probably mostly about the feelings around unburdening yourself from shame, and allowing yourself to be interested in the things you are interested in. Also to feel that you do not need to shackle yourself to these things that were done to you or happened to you in the course of your life, or were damaging to you or wounded you. Just to be able to look at them, and see them plainly and reckon with them. It’s sort of a pro-therapy movie.
And if it’s not a therapist, maybe there is someone else in your life who you can have this kind of frank conversation with in a safe way. With Priya and Nic, they are not exactly role models for doing safe sharing [laughs], but I think that ultimately what I’d like people to take away from this is to let people in and be kinder to yourself.
Is there anything else you’d like to add? Is there something that you wish people would have asked you about this film?
The one thing that is kind of related to one of your earlier questions about dealing with some of the trickier subject matters is that I think that we are all formed by our experiences. But I don’t think the character Nic is pansexual because he was abused, or the character Priya is into BDSM because of her abuse. I think that there are connective tissues there, but it is not supposed to be an indictment of any of the sexual interests they have as adults. That’s the tricky line we’re trying to walk in this movie when we’re acknowledging that history without connecting the two things inextricably. That’s something that Priya has to deal with. She has tied these things together in a way that it’s just all filled with shame. For her, it’s just a big release to have even the idea that she could extract them from each other and have separate feelings about them.