girlfriend experience



Filed under: girlfriend experience — pietrobruno @ 14:05

As a filmmaker, I simply want to reveal what is hidden – the john. Movies often portray sex-workers, but their customers remain well hidden – faceless and nameless. Girlfriend Experience calls attention to this bias, at the same time as it shifts the cinematic gaze onto the client.

I researched this film by conducting interviews with johns. What struck me is what regular guys they are – dads, husbands, brothers, boyfriends, buddies, sons. Very nice guys. Because I did not want to vilify or stereotype the client, I decided that the client in Girlfriend Experience had to be the ‘guy next door’.

During the shoot, I was worried that my decision not to reveal the sex-worker Adrian’s face or voice would end-up being a grave mistake but I intentionally wanted Adrian to be non-existent, in order to emphasize that the prostitute does not exist. Prostitution is about male sexuality, not female sexuality. It’s all about the guy, not about the girl.

What fascinates me about the phenomena of the GFE is how the client can fully enjoy the illusion of realness, while still being fully aware that it is fake. When the sex-worker Adrian says, “I love you”, Daniel knows that “it’s bullshit, but who cares? GFE makes us feel good”. I admire that kind of imaginative complexity.

Girlfriend Experience’s film style mimics the style of a GFE encounter, in that the film does not try to be convincing real; instead, the film uses cinematic codes to tease and taunt with the charade of realism. Like the GFE provider and buyer, the filmmaker and viewer are conscious of the film’s simulation of authenticity, complicit in the entanglement of illusion and reality. And hopefully enjoying it!

(Excerpts from  Toro Magazine interview)



Filed under: girlfriend experience — pietrobruno @ 14:04

Directing so-called sex scenes (in which there is a simulation of physical intimacy) is always tricky. Cast and crew tend to get awkward and stiff around nudity and physical contact.

I think executing a sex scene requires a lot of communication. I always decide with the actors what exactly the actions are going to be. I also make sure that the actors know that their boundaries will be fully respected. On this shoot, I made a deal with the actors that they were free to change their mind at anytime, even if we were halfway through their scene. In other words, they were at liberty to renege on a shoot mid-way, causing us to lose a full day’s work. Fortunately, this never happened but perhaps the actors’ affirmed autonomy made them much more relaxed.

What’s interesting about the representation of intimacy in Girlfriend Experience is that it has a tone of criminality. One reason for this is that the viewer brings so many personal and cultural biases to the depiction of paid sex. Simply portraying a john elicits a feeling of tension in the viewer. Daniel’s intimacy with sex workers is layered with the viewer’s perceptions of power and exploitation.

The other reason for this tone of criminality stems from Girlfriend Experience’s shooting style which is very voyeuristic. The camera peers through obstructions trying to see the action, like a voyeur who watches illicitly from a hidden place. There’s an insidious feeling of guilt, shame, and complicity. When the cop yells at the camera to shut-off, it is as if the camera has been caught or censored. Just as Daniel is criminalized for what he does, so too is the camera.

(Excerpt from Toro Magazine interview)

GFE still_3 of 5


Filed under: girlfriend experience — pietrobruno @ 14:03

Must see for any cinema fan! … Brilliant, assured, original; non-judgmental and daring. The subject of prostitutes and johns has never been approached like this … a wow-er … the story and coverage are so perfect … this is one of the best narrative works to borrow from — and then explode — documentary and reality conventions. Check it out. (Excerpt fromIMDB film review)

The narrative includes observations from clients of prostitutes, offering observations and insights into the world’s oldest profession and what they are seeking from these encounters … The dialogue and situations ring true, even when they depict situations that are unusual … The acting is very good, too, with David Lewis as Daniel as the standout with a very credible, realistic performance … Pietrobruno’s GFE: Girlfriend Experience is a frank exploration of the client’s point of view of his relationship with prostitutes. The film presents these issues very intelligently and maturely, and I recommend the film strongly. (Excerpt from Joe Vincennes’ film review in Insider Escort Secrets)

girlfriend experience

Well thought and made movie … offered an alternative point of view. It’s a winner in my book from the very beginning … money well spent. (Excerpt from Farid Rakun’s film review in Fairdkun Multiply)

A unique perspective to the sometimes mystifying relationship between client and service provider … Thought provoking, honest and beautifully shot. (Excerpt from IMDB film review)

Fascinating and surprisingly neutral. (Excerpt from Michael Kissinger’s story in Vancouver Courier)

girlfriend experience

Pietrobruno uses a number of clever formal conceits to explore and challenge the audience’s own desire for the real thing, whether it is the escapism of fiction film or the social responsibility of documentary. Like the film’s protagonist, Daniel, the film-viewer is motivated by desires. Filmed in documentary style, Girlfriend Experience resorts to re-enactments to fill in scenes where there is no documentary footage. Even more telling than the observational-style footage, these acted scenes highlight the cultural scripting of desire. Girlfriend Experience consistently evokes this feeling of missing referents and lost objects through its jittery handheld camerawork and quick editing. One result is that, just as fiction film’s promise of fantasy is thwarted, so too is documentary’s promise of reality. (Excerpt from Zoe Druick’s film review in In Media Res)

GFE still_1 of 5

Nice piece of work … Real, compelling and intelligent … The viewer is vaulted from one scene to the next in such a seamless, but poignant way, it almost catches you off guard … The acting is great, and it’s such a unique perspective. (Excerpt from Super Sandor’s IMDB review)

Good acting … erotically charged scenes …  interesting camerawork … … structural boldness … Assuredness with which she tackles the unorthodox narrative form … If you too happen to download or rent or buy the “wrong” Girlfriend Experience movie, do not be too quick to get rid of it. (Excerpt from Ivailo Minov’s film review in Minov Live Forever)

It all felt real and yet not quite at the same time. Truly well done. (Excerpt from Humbledmonk’s IMDB film review)

The cinematography is beautiful … the performances all around are so natural … the movie doesn’t sugar coat the lifestyle. It’s rather gritty, but I think the director does a fantastic job of laying it out there for the audience to experience.(Excerpt from IMDB film review)

Reminds me of an almost same experience, of falling for a working girl. In fact, some of the scenes were indeed quite similar … Really a fine drama and Ivy Vine was freaking hot. (Excerpt from Cheeps)

Surprisingly fresh. Thought-provoking without being too straight-forward. When Daniel’s actual girlfriend admits to him that she has considered role-playing the hooker/john scenario for him to ease this desire to sleep with prostitutes, she also voices a profound revelation. She says, “you wouldn’t be turned on, cause even though you say your prostitution world is all make believe and fantasy I think that you like your whores because to you they’re real.” What is undoubtedly real is how all-consuming his addiction to his so-called “hobby” is … It’s an all-around smart film. (Excerpt from Shyla Fairfax film review in Pick Canadian Pictures)

Good acting, especially from David Lewis  … Erotically charged scenes, especially one where a woman plays with her own kitten, literally … Interesting camerawork … An ending sequence that brings on some nice irony . (Excerpt from review in Morning Glory)


Filed under: girlfriend experience — pietrobruno @ 14:02

DAVID LEWIS … Danielgirlfriend experience
IVY VINE … Adrian
EMMA LAHANA … Adrian the Actress
BILL DOW … Marcus

  • PIETROBRUNO producer / director / editor / writer
  • JOHN HOUTMAN cinematographer

  • SANDOR GYURKOVICS production sound mixer / boom operator
  • KRISTA THOMPSON producer

  • MAYA SCIARRETTA production designer / wardrobe
  • MATTHEW KOUTZUN art director
  • NANDINI SINGH-WESTLAKE  2nd camera / camera assistant
  • RIEL MCGUIRE  2nd camera / camera assistant
  • MIGUEL NUNES  sound editor and re-recording mixer
  • JEAN-DENIS ROUETTE  trailer editor

Produced with the assistance and support of:emma lahana_06


Filed under: girlfriend experience — pietrobruno @ 14:01

film title: Girlfriend Experience
DVD title: GFE: Girlfriend Experience
genre: drama
language: EnglishGFE still_2 of 5
completion date: June 15,2008
first public screening: December 6, 2008
release date: June 16, 2009
country of origin: Canada
duration: 83 minutes
colour/B&W: colour
shoot format: High Definition
screening format: on request
aspect ratio: 16×9 or 1.78:1
distributor (Canada) Mongrel Media






Create a free website or blog at