First you have to know what you are trying to be. Virgin has been twisted into a pretzel of different meanings. The one I am talking about is where you know you are of value just for being yourself, as in a Virgin forest. When you think about it, the tree doesn’t have to be a chair or a house to be valuable. People are like this too. We need to know that we can find a place to be accepted for who we authentically are. That is the big message in movies like Her, Frozen, An Education, Kinky Boots or Lars and the Real Girl. Or Shakespeare in Love, Black Swan and the first half of Avatar. I could go on and on. This theme transcends time, culture, budget and even gender – you can be a male or female Virgin. Virgin stories have the power to really reach our hearts.
They are based on that universal need to belong when we are being ourselves. That’s what makes these stories so powerful. Sometimes the tricky part is to figure out what the heck ‘being ourself’ looks like. This is the Virgin journey, including movies of coming of Age, dreams coming true, or facing the psychological pain of not being connected to yourself. A lot of being and coming – becoming.
Sexuality is one of the really interesting ways we learn to know who we are – it’s not simply voyeurism that makes sex a recurring event in movies. That first moment of learning we have the human capacity to soar with joy is the essential nature of the Virgin. In Greek mythology, the Virgin Goddess wasn’t one who never had sex. She was the one who owned her sexuality. She chooses who, she chooses when (sounds like Pretty Woman). Virgin is the ultimate turning of your gaze inward and learning there is a whole world of possibility there driven by your instinct for love.
Creativity is the same moment. It is the result of filtering the world through your senses and making your feelings tangible in some way as seen in Little Voice or Billy Elliot. The art of knowing yourself and being yourself through an inward gaze and connection to something greater than you is the spiritual journey also told through this story structure.
So, the first step in being a Virgin (or writing a Virgin story) is to turn your gaze inward and notice what makes you (or your character) feel good or feel connected. If you want to know how that could possibly be shown on the screen, take a look at Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. The look on her face speaks volumes. Film is so powerful for Virgin storytelling because we can look into a character’s face and read so much about what they are feeling. To tell a Virgin story you have to hold this understanding of the essence of the story in your heart as you write and allow it to colour your dialogue.
Kim Hudson returns to Raindance London 2-3 December 2017 to teach Writing Stories of Personal Growth: Screenwriting from a Feminine Perspective