“‘Modern Love is Automatic’ imagines the Alexandria fetish scene”
Growing up in Alexandria, writer and director Zach Clark wasn’t too into the Northern Virginia fetish scene. So when he began work on Modern Love is Automatic, a film about “a nurse who, on a whim, takes a side job as a dominatrix,” he enlisted the help of local sex workers to fill in the gaps.
“Very early on in the process, I tried to get a dominatrix in the area to at least read the script, and hopefully to come on board as a technical adviser,” says Clark, 28. “No one would return my e-mails.”
Though Clark says he had “wanted to do the nurse-dominatrix thing for a while,” his 2005 script on the subject lacked a professional touch. “The script largely relied on my general conceptions of what would happen in that situation,” he says. So Clark says he scoured “lists of dominatrixes online” for local dominant women versed in the ritual punishment of their male sex partners, then sent out stock e-mails to each one explaining the film’s consulting needs.