How To Have Sex by Molly Manning Walker, the Un Certain Regard revelation is in theatres

How to have sex © Nikolopoulos Nikos

To celebrate the end of high school, three British teens go on holiday in Crete together for the first time. It is the summer of all excesses, rites-of-passage and first times, a summer that should be the best of their lives… Winner of the 2023 Un Certain Regard Award, How To Have Sex revealed British director Molly Manning Walker at Cannes. A strong questioning on the injunction to have sex and the notion of consent, her first feature film is to be discovered in theaters in France from November 15.

What inspired you to begin work on this film?

I reconnected with some high school friends and we were reminiscing about the girls holidays we used to go on. As we went over the stories, I started to realise how much of an impact it had had on our concept of sex. I wanted to write something that looks at the pressure on young people to have sex. I wanted to make sure the film was told from the perspective of the girls and not judging them. A film that captures both the best and worst time of your life.

What was the shoot like?

The crew were incredibly young and we were shooting in a party town on a Greek island. So you can imagine we had fun. We played football every Sunday, we had barbecues and sing-alongs after work. The team was a real family. We all stayed in one hotel. It was a real summer camp. I wanted to create an atmosphere that freed us up to make the best thing possible rather than be controlled by the script or preconceptions of what it should be. You never know where a good idea could come from!

Please share a few words about your actors…

What a beautiful bunch of people. All 6 of the main cast are incredibly talented. I wanted the actors to feel like they owned their characters. Instead of rehearsing it to death I got them to interview each other on camera (in character). We used a term on set ‘shall we try an experiment. We’d totally change the way we are looking at a scene. It was a real freeing way to work. The cast brought more depth to the characters than I ever could have imagined.

What did you learn during the course of making this film?

So much. Every day was a major learning curve for me. I wrote a party film but I didn’t really think about shooting scenes amongst 300 people! The reset time of extras is a crazy thing. We shot party scenes solely for the first two weeks it was a real baptism of fire. The biggest lesson for me was if the crew really love the project and want to be there and feel cared about they will really go above and beyond to make your dreams come true. Look after your crew and they’ll look after you.

What would you like people to remember from your film?

I hope that it starts a bigger conversation around consent and good sex. I hope we start to talk about female pleasure and how to teach young adults how to have sex.