Filmmaker Nicole Conn (Claire of the Moon, Little Man) is doing her part to put lesbians in the record books, one extra-long kiss at a time.
Her new project, Elena Undone, follows a well-known lesbian writer who falls for the wife of a pastor. It was conceived by Conn and her partner, Marina Rice Bader, on a weekend getaway when Bader asked, "Why aren’t there more lesbian movies out there?" The two decided to "give it a go," and Elena Undone was born.
In her new film, Conn wanted to capture the power and magic behind a monumental first kiss, and ended up shooting a 3:24 long kissing scene that breaks the record for longest kiss in cinema history, originally set back in 1941 by — naturally — a heterosexual couple.
Conn, the writer and director recently told us about the inspiration behind the history-making kiss she filmed and gave us a first look at the scene.
One day during an insanely long set of revisions on the script, I tossed my pen aside and wondered, “What in the hell am I trying to convey here? Stop thinking!” And so I did.
I began to remember falling in love with Marina and let all the delicious moments that sweep over you when you first fall in love rush back over me … the most memorable and easily most exquisite moment was that first kiss … that kiss that feels like you have lived inside it forever.
I jumped up, grabbed my laptop and started researching kisses and erotica in cinema and a gaggle of Googling later, I discovered that the record for the longest kiss in cinema history — that was organic to a film — was held by an old black and white comedy starring of all people Jane Wyman and Regis Toomey in a film called You’re in the Army Now — which lasted three minutes and six seconds. The actor’s lips were glued together, so some people felt it shouldn’t count.
Another filmmaker tried to break the record by running a kiss that was shot overhead in a helicopter over the end credits stating he was going to break the record held by You’re in the Army Now; again, not organic to the film.
That’s what I wanted. To convey that moment, and I wanted the viewer to be fully inside that first earth-shattering kiss.
Our brilliant DP, Tal Lazar, created a 360 lighting design. We were terribly short on time in our schedule and had to shoot the kiss in just 3 takes. Necar [Zadegan] and [Traci Dinwiddie] knew they had to hold the kiss for a specific amount of time. They were thoroughly game to give it their best attempt — knowing we were trying to create film history –— although I assured everyone, if the kiss didn’t feel right — or real — to the moment, we would cut it. The two jumped in with gusto, approaching it as they did every scene, with absolute professionalism and an intractable commitment to truth.
“The Kiss” between Elena (Zadegan) and Peyton (Dinwiddie) is equally sweeping, emotional, romantic and erotic. It is what every first true love kiss should be — endlessly breathtaking.
Here’s a clip of the kiss:
For more info on Elena Undone, check out the official website. The film will screen at Frameline in San Francisco on June 25 and at Outfest in Los Angeles on July 16. (Check back soon for our review of the film.)
Did you find the record-breaking kiss in Elena Undone to be "endlessly breathtaking?"