Getting into bed with 'Pillow Talk'

Two Israeli filmmakers have created a webseries which spotlights brief, intimate conversations between couples.

 ELYA YERUSHALMY and Ezra Ani in an episode of 'Pillow Talk.'  (photo credit: PILLOW TALK)
ELYA YERUSHALMY and Ezra Ani in an episode of 'Pillow Talk.'
(photo credit: PILLOW TALK)
How much can you learn about a relationship in 60 seconds? Ezra Ani and Micah Smith think the answer is quite a lot.
The pair of Israeli-American filmmakers have created a new micro webseries titled Pillow Talk, which features very short episodes centered around – you guessed it – pillow talk. Each episode is around a minute long, featuring just a man, a woman, and a bed. Some are heavier on dialogue, while others are heavy with silence.
“The episodes end up representing these sort of paradigmatic, fundamental conversations that we all have,” said Smith. “Your individual relationship with your partner is so private, and I like that these episodes say ‘don’t worry, the things you’re going through with your partner, we’re all going through. We’re actually in this together.’”
So far, they have released 10 of the planned 16 episodes for this season, which star Ani alongside his on-screen partner, played by Elya Yerushalmy. And this week they celebrated being accepted into the Austin Revolution Film Festival, which they hope will gain them significantly more exposure.
“We don’t have a tremendous amount of followers, but there are a lot of people sharing and commenting and liking and that’s nice,” said Ani. Smith added that the most satisfying interaction is those viewers who tag their partners on one of the Facebook videos, “basically saying, this is us.”
One of the most viewed episodes so far is titled “Together,” and features the couple watching a film together in bed. While he is focused on the opening credits, she is checking her phone, which irks him to no end. The 45-second clip certainly struck a nerve with the small community of fans of the show.
“Most of the scenes are based on one of two things – either experiences that I’ve had directly or ideas that I’ve thought of over the course of my philosophy degree,” said Ani. “I’m interested in that kind of storytelling, storytelling where the drama comes from the dialogue and dealing with human intimacy.”
Ani and Smith, both American immigrants to Israel, made it a priority to make the series – and the production – as egalitarian as possible.
“It was important to have egalitarian dialogue, where there isn’t this kind of hierarchy of who has the upper hand and who wins, who is emotional and who’s rational,” said Ani. “The characters take turns being emotional and rational, the characters take turns being needy. I wanted to distance it as far as I could from gender stereotypes.”
Smith, a Los Angeles native who lives in Alon Shvut, said that after they had written all of the scenes, “we went through and switched their roles for several of the scripts.”
The two men also made sure to bring female voices into the production, with producer Gabriela Mischel, associate producer Miriam Smith (Micah’s wife) and cinematographer Daniella Nowitz.
After several days of intense rehearsals, they filmed all 16 episodes over the course of two days in Jerusalem. And while the series is not about Israel or Judaism, the filmmakers are proud of its origin. 
“The entire thing was written and filmed in Jerusalem,” said Ani, a Baltimore native. “I’m very proud to call this a Jerusalem webseries, even though it’s not in Hebrew and it has nothing to do with Jerusalem.”
Smith, who works as a film producer and director, said while most films in Israel that gain international attention have to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or ultra-Orthodox Jewry, he’s hopeful that is beginning to change.
“You’re starting to see... Israeli series that are just great Israeli series about life, because we’re also normal people here,” said Smith. “Pillow Talk represents this idea of a webseries coming out of Jerusalem that’s just about ordinary life.”