The making of Orchids: My Intersex Adventure was an intimate process, which required a great deal of patience and sensitivity. It took six years to complete the film and during that time, there were numerous, intense negotiations with the subjects of the film, regarding their continued involvement. Nnot all the characters filmed made it to the end product, either because of program duration constraints, or because they had “moved on”.
Director, Phoebe Hart, used digital cameras and a small crew, whom, wherever feasible, consisted of insiders to the intersex community.
“I felt that by having a small, ‘insider’ crew, the ‘talent’ would be more inclined to openly express issues that may have been long shrouded in secrecy and stigma,” Phoebe said.
As principal documenters of Orchids: My Intersex Adventure, sisters Phoebe and Bonnie Hart used a variety of cameras, ranging from semi-professional to domestic VHS camcorders and Super 8. The documentary’s guerrilla look was achieved by blending rich archival family home movies and photographs with contemporary video footage, recorded specifically for the film. This production style has given the film a raw immediacy, thus allowing the audience to be engaged more readily with a familiar, intimate, “home movie” style and experience.
The film’s road trip presented a number of challenges. Two sisters, with a camera, in a 1982 WB Kingswood ute (pickup), covering thousands of kilometres, criss-crossing the country north to south, east to west, was always going to be a bumpy ride. During the trip, the girls battled through everything from intense hailstorms to plagues of locusts. Perhaps the greatest battle was between the sisters. Phoebe and Bonnie filmed and interviewed many people from the intersex community, but also turned the camera on themselves. Undoubtedly, the unrelenting pace led to tensions in their relationship and in the name of transparency, they made the ethical and creative decision to document their rising tensions. This seemed especially pertinent, as the film was so personal. Thus, they established a style of including many of the actual “making of” and “behind the scenes’ moments”, into the film’s storyline.