HEAVY PETTING was begun in 1982 when Obie Benz and Pierce Rafferty joined forces to develop a film about sex and dating. Benz had been nominated for an Academy Award for directing AMERICAS IN TRANSITION, a documentary on U.S. policy in Latin America. Rafferty had co-directed ATOMIC CAFE, a black humor classic which used archival footage of America's propaganda campaign for the atom bomb.
Benz and Rafferty wanted to explore techniques for instructing kids about sex and social conduct using educational films, newsreels, TV, and features. Working with a team of fifteen film researchers throughout the country, they researchers came up with educational titles like AS BOYS GROW, DISCIPLINE DURING ADOLESCENCE, HOW TO SAY NO, PHYSICAL ASPECTS OF PUBERTY, and SOCIAL ACCEPTABILITY. They also scoured the National Archives (army VD films), the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research, the Kansas State Board of Health, private collections, attics, and a corrupt school official instructed to trash a decades old film collection.
Some films were in the public domain. Much was forgotten footage, "ephemeral" films, created to sell or teach, long ago outdated. Though many warnings seemed clumsy and simplistic, the sincerity of delivery was striking when compared to the polished messages of today's professional media.
When the project was initially taken to Norman Lear, then head of Embassy Pictures, he immediately agreed to finance it. After screening thousands of hours of footage, the filmmakers workprinted 65 hours and began editing. When a through-line proved difficult to find, Embassy executives bailed out, and the filmmakers went on to other projects.
But Benz continued to explore ways to finish the film. In 1985, he resumed production as both producer and director. He needed a strong device that would draw people from the archival footage to their own experience. He decided against comic narration or re-enactments in favor of REDS style "witnesses" who would act as a counterpoint to the archival material.
Out of a list of 100 people from an array of backgrounds, Benz interviewed 40 about their sex and dating experiences. All witnesses agreed to talk without preconditions. From 30 hours of new footage, the filmmakers ultimately chose 25 minutes from 23 witnesses.
To process a 35mm release print, original material had to be secured for over 100 sources. Prints came from every conceivable format: from scratched, last-remaining release prints to original A + B rolls saved from a closing film lab to cinemascope for REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE.
Producer / Director
Co-Director / Editor
Director of Photography
Assistant Sound Editor
Additional Sound Editing
1st Assistant Camera
2nd Assistant Camera
Kevin P. Green
John E. Allen Lab
Portfolio Artists Network
American Archives of Factual Film
CBS News Archive
Hearst Metrotone News
John E. Allen Archives
Kansas State Board of Health
Kinsey Institute for Sex Research
UCLA Film and Television Archives
Feature Films Courtesy of:
INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN, Arkoff International Pictures
THE WILD ONE, Columbia Pictures
BECAUSE THEY'RE YOUNG, Columbia Pictures
HIGH SCHOOL HELLCATS, Orion Pictures
BUS STOP, Twentieth Century Fox
BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, Turner Entertainment Co.
ROCK PRETTY BABY, Universal Picutres
REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, Warner Bros.
Television Courtesy of:
THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET, Casablanca Productions
AGE OF TURMOIL
AS BOYS GROW
BEGINNING TO DATE
DANCE LITTLE CHILDREN
DATING: DO'S AND DON'TS
DISCIPLINE DURING ADOLESCENCE
HOW DO I LOVE THEE?
HOW MUCH AFFECTION?
HOW TO SAY NO
MEETING THE NEEDS OF ADOLESCENTS
MOLLY GROWS UP
PERVERSION FOR PROFIT
PHYSICAL ASPECTS OF PUBERTY
SOCIAL-SEX ATTITUDES IN ADOLESCENCE
THE INNOCENT PARTY
WHAT TO DO ON A DATE
YOU AND YOUR FAMILY
YOUNG MAN'S FANCY
A-One Reverse-O Lab
Bono Film Labs
Joan Scherer Brewer
Channel 4 Television
Richard W. Morton
William L. Schurk
Marcus Von Nispel