On the Twelfth Day of Findom
Logline: From the confines of the supermarket staff room, a Christmas temp worker dips her toe into the unknown world of Financial Domination.
A tinny rendition of Twelve Days of Christmas fills a fluorescently-lit supermarket aisle as Emma stacks shelves lethargically. A message comes through on her phone. She fishes it out her bra and wipes her boob imprints from the screen. Another rejection from uni. “Unfortunately, we felt you lacked a certain empirical grasp on the subject of Economics and therefore-” Great. She spots another notification. Instagram. 1 message request. Tap. “Ur feet look good. They must be sweaty against those patent loafers. Please may I spoil you?”. Uh-oh. Emma has stumbled upon the world of Findom. And she likes it. Money for nothing? What could go wrong?
Over the course of 12 days, the story looks at the culture of our bodies as commodities and where consent lies within that sexual exploration. We go on a rollercoaster of morals behind sex work with a character who’s never really had to think about it; until she takes an involuntary dive into the world herself. Left to question her own empowerment within a new-fangled relationship, she wonders if she really is coming out on top. A window into a little-known world, this is a sexual power trip gone wrong. With Christmas fast approaching, Emma comes to the realisation that a trickle of money has made her unknowingly trade her own safety. Buy one get one free. From behind the camera, we watch her boundary lines become less and less defined until we are left with the sinking feeling that we’re the ones who’ve been complicit all along.
Caitlin BlackDirector12th Man (GSFF)
Simone Pereira HindProducerOutlander
Penny DaviesProducerKaren Pirie
Project Type:Short Script
Number of Pages:14
Country of Origin:United Kingdom
Joanne Thomson is an Actor, Writer and Director from Glasgow, Scotland. Since graduating with a BA in Acting from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, she has worked across the UK in both television and theatre.
Her theatre credits include work with the National Theatre of Scotland, Bristol Old Vic, Birmingham Rep, Royal Lyceum, Traverse, and the legendary Citizens Theatre in Glasgow.
Joanne most recently played DS Lisa Harvey in BBC One drama The Victim which was nominated for a BAFTA in this year’s 2020 ceremony. Her performance in ITV’s BAFTA-nominated In Plain Sight won her nominations for 2 Best Actress categories at the IARA awards and her recent BBC prime-time drama The Suffragettes won a BAFTA in 2019. In 2014 she directed the critically acclaimed all-female production Nothing to be Done which won Best Play at the Setkani Festival in Czech Republic.
In 2020 she was selected as a BAFTA Los Angeles Newcomer, a 4-year long cross-discipline initiative for British Film & TV professionals across the pond. During lockdown, she co-founded the first online BAFTA New Talent Writer's Group and assists with the running of the Global Women in Film Film Club in an effort to keep creative support and conversation thriving throughout our new normal.
Her passion lies in championing underrepresented voices and her queer-led pilot Spinner & Marie was recently selected for Screenshot's Commendation List by Olivia Colman's production company South of the River Pictures and Sister, the team behind HBO's Chernobyl. It also made the top 2% shortlist on BBC's 2021 Writer's Room callout as well as making it to the Quarterfinals of both Screencraft's Comedy and True Story Competitions.
In 2021 she was selected as one of 10 Short Circuit Convergence participants, a screenwriting programme funded by BFI & Screen Scotland, which will help develop her Short & Feature Film projects. Her short film has also been shortlisted for funding through their Sharp Shorts scheme.
When things get too much, she likes to awkward moon walk out of rooms and she has an encyclopedic knowledge of the TV show Friends so don't challenge her on that because you will lose.
She also definitely didn't write this herself in the third-person.
As a survivor of sexual assault with an increasing understanding of the nuance behind abuse of power, I wanted to explore the topic from the perspective of someone who didn’t have the vocabulary or experience to navigate their own autonomy. As one sex worker during my interviews said: “When you’re still navigating what your boundaries are, clients can confuse that with not having any at all and they often use that to their advantage.” I can personally attest to that. The debate surrounding sex work’s legitimacy has been circulating for generations, but the intricacies behind it are still relatively unknown by the general public. It took me being personally solicited for sex work to really dig deeper. This story is based on my own lived experience but more accurately, it’s based on all the little discoveries I found along the way.
Last year, mid-pandemic, someone anonymously reached out to me online and offered to send me money for nothing. Like Emma, I figured... "what's the worst that could happen?". Every day I felt differently about it. Every hour even. I was along for the ride until I demanded to know his identity and it transpired that it was in fact someone I knew. Despite my deeper understanding of the topic, I still to this day don’t know how I feel about having engaged in it myself and the nuances of that deceit: it seems the stigma on both sides is somewhat inescapable. To that end, I wanted to create a world that sat outwith that stigma. One where it’s not the sex work itself that’s put into question, but rather the safety structures that surround it. The pressure to dominate in something you know nothing about can be dangerous - often sex workers offset this by working in pairs so they can navigate it together. Our character starts out alone so her co-workers become that sounding board.
My own sounding board of fellow survivors continually question what we need now that damage is done. Is it better reporting systems that only rely on further abuse to test? Or is it financial reparations for the ongoing damage and therapy we’ve had to seek? I’m working on another project that explores that, but it made me think… what would we do if that financial compensation did come knocking? Trained as caregivers practically from birth, how do we navigate the ingrained guilt we feel when taking something for (what at least feels like) nothing. Are we right to capitalise on our own objectification? Do we deserve to? Have we every right to that money in the same way we have a right to the £7.50 an hour we earn from stacking shelves in cheap shoes on shifts that feel too long to be legal? How might these worlds of labour coexist with one another? I want to tackle class, capitalism, consumerism and sexual autonomy from the safe space where the cogs in the giant machine grab their 10 minutes of rest to eat their cheap pasta from spagbol-stained Tupperware before they go back out and do it all over again. The question I really want to ask the audience is, are you complicit? Our very industry is centred around a performative act, actors sell their bodies for our entertainment, but it’s legal. Is one more valid than the other? They’re huge questions but they’re told simply. I want you to have to look hard to find those questions within the film and look even harder to answer them.