Aubrey Plaza: The To Do List movie scene explained, who is director Maggie Carey - what did she say on Conan?

Aubrey Plaza in 2018 (Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for MTV)Aubrey Plaza in 2018 (Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for MTV)
Aubrey Plaza in 2018 (Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for MTV) | Getty Images for MTV
‘I thought I was doing one thing and then when I showed up, it was a whole different thing’

Intimacy coordinators have become much more commonplace in modern filmmaking due to the heightened awareness and sensitivity around the issue of consent in intimate scenes.

Their role is to work with directors, actors and producers to ensure that all intimate scenes in a production are handled with care and respect, and that the performers’ boundaries and comfort levels are always taken into account.

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They help to choreograph and block scenes in a way that ensures the safety and wellbeing of the actors, and that the scenes are shot in a way that accurately conveys the intended emotions without being exploitative or gratuitous.

Such coordinators began to become more common on film sets in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which brought attention to issues of harassment, abuse and exploitation in the entertainment industry.

Their importance has been highlighted once more by Aubrey Plaza, who during an interview on Conan O’Brien said she was instructed by the director to touch herself "for real” while filming sex comedy The To-Do List. Here is everything you need to know about it.

What has Aubrey Plaza said?

In the 2013 film - shot a few years before intimacy coordinators on set had become more commonplace - Plaza portrays Brandy Klark, who determined to gain sexual experience before she starts college, creates a “to-do list” of various sexual acts that she wants to experience, and sets out to complete them with the help of her friends.

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While filming such scenes, it’s customary for actors and actresses to be shielded by modesty barriers or prosthetics, but The White Lotus star claims director Maggie Carey encouraged her to do it for real.

“In my head, I envisioned a nice scene where you see my hand slowly go out of frame,” Plaza said. “That’s what I thought I was going into, but then when I showed up, the camera was mounted on the ceiling.

“I was in my underwear and a Clinton t-shirt, and there were a bunch of old men smoking, ya know, the crew guys. And then I went and touched myself.”

She added: “I thought I was doing one thing and then when I showed up, it was a whole different thing, it was a full body shot. And I asked the director, ‘What should I do?’ And she said, ‘Masturbate, like it says in the script’.”

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It should be noted that, although the film received mixed reviews from critics, it was praised for its feminist perspective and for subverting traditional gender roles in teen comedies, and was also noted for its frank and explicit depiction of female sexuality, which was considered rare for a mainstream Hollywood film at the time.

The To-Do LIst was Maggie Carey’s feature film directorial debut, and was based on a script that she wrote. Aside from her work as a director, Carey has also written for television shows such as Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She was formerly married to comedian and actor Bill Hader, and the couple has three children together - they divorced in 2018.

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