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Meet the 2012 Tribeca Filmmakers #9: 'Sexy Baby' Directors Jill Bauer & Ronna Gradus

By Indiewire Staff | Indiewire April 7, 2012 at 9:44AM

Filmmakers Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus met while working as a writer and photographer, respectively, at the Miami Herald. They became fast friends, personally and professionally. "We also made each other laugh constantly," they say, and "soon realized this dynamic worked beautifully when out on newspaper assignments together."
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Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus
Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus

Filmmakers Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus met while working as a writer and photographer, respectively, at the Miami Herald. They became fast friends, personally and professionally. "We also made each other laugh constantly," they say, and "soon realized this dynamic worked beautifully when out on newspaper assignments together."

So they toyed with the idea of making a documentary, and quickly saw that with a small test camera that "how quickly people would open up to us about sex, relationships and the seismic shift technology seemed to be creating in their lives -- people were hungry for a movie like 'Sexy Baby.'" So they "took the crazy plunge" and left their jobs to spend the next three years with doc director hats, an experience they call "exciting, exhausting, exhilarating, scary and hilarious -- sometimes all at the same time."

What it's about: In the age of runaway social media and "sexting," raunchy rap songs on pop radio and hardcore pornography at the click of a mouse, "Sexy Baby" takes a startling look at America's increasingly sex-saturated culture.

Director Bauer says: "We made a very concerted effort to approach 'Sexy Baby' as journalists. We have our personal opinions of course, but because the topics we explore are so nuanced and complex, we didn't want to try to push an agenda, we wanted to report. We also didn't want to alienate any demographic because we want everyone to see 'Sexy Baby.' Though we focus on three main female characters, our subject matter is equally relevant to men as it is to women. As we were shaping the film, we had several test screenings to make sure we were striking the right balance because our topic is universal and ubiquitous."

On the challenges they faced: "We literally didn't know how to use our camera or audio equipment (and still kind of don't). It also took us an entire year to figure out who our three main characters should be -- we spent many a night lurking in clubs and at New Jersey malls on weekends (it was really great for our social lives, let us tell you). And then when we did find our people and knew how we wanted to tell the larger story, we could not find an editor who could conceptualize the film -- in fact, we were often told we didn't actually have a film. But then thank goodness, we found Brittany Huckabee who is a filmmaker herself, and roped her in. Then there was the money issue -- it was really hard to raise funds as two people who had no previous films under our belts. We had to do a lot of researching, emailing and cold calling. The list goes on, but we'll stop hereā€¦"

What's next? "A nap? No seriously, we've just started to toy with the idea of a Sexy Baby part 2 that focuses more on boys' experiences. "

Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival.

Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.

This article is related to: Meet the 2012 Tribeca Filmmakers, Tribeca Film Festival, Interviews