The View From Behind the Camera At A Porn Shoot

November 17, 2015
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Behind the Camera At A Porn Shoot

A behind-the-scenes porn atmosphere may bring to mind flashing images of crazy wild sex, parties, hard drugs, multiple horny beautiful women and hairy-chested producers with their dangling gold chains, puffing away on Cuban cigars as they bark orders through their tinted glasses in a dingy, dirty hotel room; a room that could have hosted any number of both legal and illegal crimes to humanity… and the furniture. In other words, a porn set could not be described by anything less than a bawdy scene from Boogie Nights.

Behind the Camera At A Porn Shoot

As the content manager for BaDoink.io, my responsibilities include managing the production of our porn scenes or exclusive content, as well as our producers in Los Angeles and Czech Republic. Typically my tasks consists of selecting porn stars, creating the stories, finalizing location and props with the producers, overviewing the edits, and final delivery in post production.

Most of my delegation takes place at my desk, where all communication with producers occurs on the Internet. After a couple of years of producing exclusive content via Skype meetings, various PDF guides, and emails, it became increasingly apparent that if we wanted to improve the quality of our content, we needed to physically be on set in order to effectively translate our ideas to the production team in real time. A lot of unanticipated decision-making happens on set that could potentially decrease the quality of the product you are trying to market, especially if the directors allow old-fashioned habitual ideas to fog the objective of the intended product. Our competitive market demands higher quality content and fresh, new ideas to stay relevant. Any distortion or lack of consistency can be crucial when marketing comes into play.

Practically, there was no better option than getting my hands dirty, so to speak, and being in the middle of all the action, making sure we were successfully hitting all our marks.

Attending a porn set is something that a lot of people would jump at the opportunity of doing. In fact, directing porn was even a goal I had imagined for myself at some point in my career. I know it would’ve made mom proud. The idea was always safely bobbing on the horizon, but when the opportunity became the reality of hotel and flight bookings to Budapest, I admittedly felt apprehensive about not being behind the safety of my anti-bacterial-wiped screen. I imagined an unsanitary environment with strange smells in the air, and generally an uncomfortable awkwardness that I wouldn’t be able to shake off. The very idea of being there made me feel both icky and cowardly.

After pushing through my insecurities and having co-directed my first porn shoots, I wanted to shed some light on porn productions with my own personal experiences.

Porn Producers

Both of our producers are in their mid-forties and combined make up a considerable amount of experience in the adult entertainment industry, one of them having worked as a photographer when porn was only available as pictures in dirty magazines. Their years of experience have proven invaluable when handling and managing unforeseen situations, like no-show porn stars, unexpected visits from Aunt Flow, (menstruation), and rowdy porn stars that are challenging to work with.  Any inexperienced producer would have failed to run the video shoots as smoothly if they were under these circumstances. I’ve met both of our producers in person and they are both honest and hardworking people that appear as normal as everyone else in a crowd. However, the downside to all their experience is that it can be quite difficult to convey new ideas. This challenge is what ultimately led to my presence on set.

Directing Porn Via Skype

Before actually attending a shoot, I entered the porn set at the shallow end of the pool, on a live Skype video chat.  The producer would set up a laptop where I could view the scene and I would occasionally stop the talent and crew to make adjustments to the angles or positions. At some point it dawned on me that I was playing this virtual disembodied commander, and interrupting the scene felt like putting an entire video game on pause, while the characters blankly stared back until you made your next move. I could also see how this could become extremely addictive, seducing one into playing a role of a “godlike” nature. Instructing living and breathing people like a game of Sims XXX.

Behind the Camera At A Porn Shoot

These Skype video chats took place during working hours, from my desk, in our open office. The finance department struggled to maintain focus as I loudly and distinctly called out instructions like “pull down her pants, no not all the way, yes okay now turn her over…” This kind of distraction in the office, although entertaining to our designers, was still not an adequate way of directing a scene.

Arriving on Location

After finally landing at the Budapest airport and dodging my way through shady, pestering taxi drivers, I triumphantly make it to the hotel where I meet our Czech producer. We discuss a few things concerning the video shoots and I regrettably learn of the 7AM call time.

The next morning we arrive on set, a 3-storey luxury vacation home in the up-hills of high-end Budapest suburbia, the same location we used when I was directing on Skype. I recognize the white floors and the long L-shaped couch by the large windows. The home looked a lot smaller than I expected. I imagined single families renting it out for holiday weekends, playing board games and making breakfast, unbeknownst to them the unspeakable acts that occurred only a week prior on the dining room table. A young woman greets us at the door with her cat. I’m surprised to discover that she and her husband call this place home. A place notorious for accommodating thousands of adult video shoots! It’s hard to imagine how one could comfortably touch anything in that house, knowing that it’s been touched before, in the sexual way.

As I walk in, I make an effort to completely disregard my sense of smell, even before I can even smell anything in particular. I can’t remember if I actually smelled anything now that I think about it. I also make it a point to touch the least amount of stuff as possible, and I’m grateful there are no black lights immediately available to me. However, after just an hour, I make myself at home. I eat fruit from the kitchen and I freely use the bathroom when I need to. I treat the set as I would any other film set and I forget about the stains on the chair I’m sitting on.

Meeting the Talent

I meet the female talent; in the porn world, even the adult stars we call “porn stars” are referred to as “talent”. Acting has nothing to do with it. My producers always frantically argued that the talent were performers and not actors every time I dished out an alliteration of script dialogue for the scene. Eventually, carefully written scripts and storylines were thrown out the window after the crew spent significant blocks of time just trying to get a single line of dialogue right. Because of this, I believed the talent was to blame.

In the unconscious places of my mind, the female talent had reserved a special space for prima donna-driven attitudes and a unique presence that had me convinced I had never casually met a closeted porn star in real life; otherwise, I would have known it. In this case, as the girls walked in and greeted us, they struck me as very sweet, kind, and mostly levelheaded young women. I was surprised at their delicate demeanor. Most of the girls were already very beautiful, with a few exceptions that resulted in a truly mind-blowing experience, after witnessing our hugely talented makeup artist transform a late-night mess to a fresh camera-ready look.

After a few minutes, the male talent arrives full of positivity and sunshine. In fact, I found most of the male talent very respectful and nice. He asks about the girl he will be performing with and is happier to know that she is Russian. He explains that these girls tend to have a bigger vagina and he can have sex with them for much more time than a girl with a smaller tight vagina. “You can only have sex with a girl with a tight pussy for like 1 or 2 hours,” he says. “After that, you both are in pain and want to stop. But a girl with a bigger pussy you can have sex with for 4 or 6 hours, I love it.”  A lot of the male talent were actually happy to be on our set. It was more of a laid back, chilled atmosphere. They complained about how they were treated by other studios, as if there were at the bottom of the totem pole. In reality, I’ve learned that the success of a scene largely depends on the performance of the male talent.

The Sex

When makeup, talent, and crew are ready, we start with the photos. It surprised me to see our producer charm the girls into a happier, upbeat attitude as he took the photos. Maintaining a positive mood on set proved to be very important. All photos of the scene are taken beforehand and the sex positions pre-planned and choreographed before any video is shot. This requires for the male talent to be “up” for the photos. They were constantly walking around masturbating in between different set ups. Fluffers are a thing of the past. I was impressed at how the male talent controlled their penises, bringing them up and down like the flip of a switch.

When it came to shooting the video, I was concerned about how I would deal with the smell of a sex-filled room, and being that we had scheduled 3 out of 4 anal scenes, I knew I was in for a treat. There was only one case where there was a bit of a leaking issue. We kept having to stop the scene so that the performers could clean themselves off. We had scheduled an “anal creampie” but scrapped the idea in order to avoid any surprises where the shit might have literally hit the fan.

During the filming, sometimes my eyes would lock on the monitor, making sure the framing was correct, but it completely disconnected me from the raw performance happening just a few feet away. It was like going to a concert and watching the entire show through the LCD screen of a video camera. I intently focused on the performance instead. Every now and then a moment of realness would shine through, and grab your full attention long enough for you to forget where you were, and especially how you got there.

Behind the Camera At A Porn Shoot

For the most part, the scenes rolled out quite smoothly, except for the ‘cum shots’. We usually spent about 15 minutes waiting for the male talent while he violently masturbated and even when he thought he was ready, he would lose it. The girls would try their best to “help” but even then, being ready to orgasm requires a state of mind that does not include 12 pairs of eyes staring at you, judging you, and waiting so they can finally get a snack. Every time he was “ready,” we would start rolling the camera and I found myself secretly cheering him on like a hardcore fan at a football game, hoping he would score that touchdown.

Generally, the entire workday came close to 12 hours and by the end of it, I was ready to get back to the hotel and shower. I could appreciate how directing and shooting porn could become as routine a job as any other. The only exciting change is the new round of girls that enter the industry, and yes boobs can make a big difference. There is something hypnotic about busty bouncing boobs that never gets old.

What I Learned

I learned that even a porn set can be a lot like any other film set. There is a lot of waiting around and once the action gets rolling, any passionate sex can be interrupted, moved, and changed at any point for the better interest of the camera view. The final edited scene creates a seamless experience, where we don’t see the girl getting up to clean herself off or the men vigorously masturbating for that final epic “money shot”.

It was much easier to understand the point of view of the crew and obstacles they faced on standard video shoots. Communication was greatly improved and I found that expressing my ideas became as simple as physically moving the photographer for the angle and position that we wanted. Any doubts or concerns were dealt with accordingly without sacrificing the quality of the content.

On another note, anal scenes do not necessarily need to stink up the room, however they can be messy if a thorough cleaning isn’t done. Some male porn stars prefer bigger vaginas to smaller ones for higher stamina and the power of makeup should never be underestimated under any circumstance.

Unquestionably, there is something admirable about people who happily engage in sexual activities on camera. While most of us hide these intimate moments in the privacy of our bedrooms, and exceedingly poorly behind paper thin walls, porn stars proudly present every pervasive inch of their body and vulnerability for our curiosity and viewing pleasure.

Whether you’re on-set or off, that kind of attitude has to be applauded.

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