A Sticky Business…
The first lesson you learn in life is that you have too pay your bills. The second lesson you learn is that people like to fuck, and the third…the third is that above all else, people like to watch people get fucked.
I truly believe that the majority of people prefer to watch people fucking more than do it themselves. For real. Watching porn is effortless and you get a near infinite selection of every kind, shape, size, and degrading level of depravity to chose from. In the real world, to scratch that itch takes a lot more effort than a click of a mouse, and god forbid anyone find out what you reeeeeally get off to. Thusly, porn is mankinds greatest invention. It also pays the bills…hence life lesson numero uno.
I learned these three lessons on the cusp of moving to Sydney. Fresh faced, two grand in my bank account. Living on a friends couch while looking for my first apartment. Not a damn clue, after four years of ‘learning’ at uni, how to get started in the wondrous land of filmmaking. A solid month of endless job searching. I’m pretty sure at one point in February of 2012 every single production company and every single producer had a copy of my resume (all stored in their trash bin, I’m sure).
Somewhere in late March/early April I got a call back from Odin’s Eye Entertainment and would begin my now six year love affair with the industry, full of highs and lows. Just like a marriage. One that’s pushing me to the point of wanting to cut my own eyes out. But what of the one night stands before it?
These are a few stories about my one (two) night stand with the porn industry.
…it should go without saying, but it gets graphic.
I’d got a call during that month and spare change period of job hunting from an old acquaintance I’d met at uni in my first year. It’d been his last year, but I knew he was a producer and so his name was on my list of people to beg for a job. He recognised my name and that I’d gone to Charles Sturt University and put two and two together and called me back only to tell me…
“I’m still a producer, but I don’t really make the…same…stuff…you’re thinking of.”
Turns out he’d moved to the ACT and like me had been hunting for a gig to get off the ground, and like me a producer had called him back asking if he could PA on a shoot. He didn’t tell my friend what it was, so thinking he was on his way to work on a student short film or something, he rocks up at this big ol mansion only to be greeted by the sight of seven naked women all standing around a dude who looks chiseled from stone with avalanche of abs down his chest. My friend spent the day handing bottles of water to the dude between takes and to the girls so they could…rinse their mouths out.
My friend spared me the shock entry to the biz and up front told me…
“I make porn now.”
After ten minutes of solid, gut aching laughter on my end I responded…
“I’m so fucking down for this.”
Which is how I found myself jumping on a greyhound bus one morning at 3am to get to Canberra and walking through the front door of a three story joint holding a cup of coffee and only in that moment contemplating the ever frightful thought that most young adults have in their lives…
“Oh shit, what if I get a boner?”
I’d only lost my viginity about a month before then (late bloomer I know, go fuck yourself), so sue me, it was a very real concern.
Turns out, nobody gives a shit about your boner. I learned a great many things about the porn industry. Most of which I’m sure aren’t applicable across the board. One of them is that sex isn’t all that interesting on set, it’s just part of the job. Pretty much every dude on set popped a boner or three throughout the day and by sunset you forgot you were watching sexing going down right in front of your eyes and it just becomes part of your day. I can categorically say I’ve never worked on a more professional, no fuss, no muss set since. Strange, right?
I spent most of the day helping move furniture for scenes, acting as the AC; wrangling cards and lenses for the on set photographer.
Fun fact. The cuts between positions in porn, between the two set up the action stops so a photographer can step in and snap a shit tonne of shots of the actress in that particular setup before resuming. That’s so they can maintain continuity between looks in, say, the doggy style segment of the video and the photos. For shoots where it’s one long take of the whole rigamarole, after the cumshot, the actresses make up gets reset and they do a stills pass of the shoot, same positions and set up but taking photos instead.
As a set photographer myself, I can’t say I get nearly that much leeway to get shots. Despite film stills being just as important as promoting the product.
Like I said, still the most professionally ran set I’ve ever been on.
At the end of the day my friend turns to me and asks if I was still keen for work. I was of course, if not because of rule three (everyone likes to watch people fucking) because I still needed work.
So the next day I found myself crouching beside a bed clad in white silk sheets, in a sun drenched day room, white curtains wafting in the breeze. While a guy and a girl very slowly went at it three feet away while I looked down the lens of a DSLR. Thrown in the deep end, only one day into it, I was shooting softcore. So it was more like the deepend of a shallow pool (that’ll change later). I’d heard horror stories about camera dudes being in the wrong place at the wrong time and catching a stray shot of man made vasso across the lens and their spare eye not covered by the cameras viewfinder, or being in the most undignified of positions laying between a guys legs shooting upwards at the action as the guy cradles the bouncing lass on his meat pole as a mudslide erupts from the ol brown bullet hole. I have to imagine the concept of dignity loses any meaning to you afterwards.
Being softcore however, it’s sex but without all the good parts. Like the actual sex, so splashback was thankfully not a safety hazard. In, shoot, out, get paid, go home. Excuse the play on words.
Fastforward a few weeks and my new sleeze buddy calls me out of the blue to ask if I want to make a couple of grand slicing an hour of hardcore porn footage. Lemme tell ya, cutting porn is probably the easiest work you can ever do. Think about it, it’s not rocket science. It’s not even sitting in a sandpit playing with toy rockets. It takes all of maybe half an hour. A little edit here, a little grade there — because whoever shot it clearly doesn’t know what camera exposure is…y’know, I’m pretty sure the phrase “fuck it” is spoken more often than anything else on a porn set…for more reasons than one. Half an hour later you get to the coup de grace, the last minute, the oh so very important moneyshot. There’s the hurried scramble to get into position before the dude wastes it on the arm of the couch or spilt across the tiled floor — always a bad thing for obvious reasons but also because a lot of the time the shoots are under the guise of being a student film and the AirBNB rented house owners completely unaware of what’s really going on. Dude spreads legs, the girl closes her eyes and opens her mouth and his…blood shoots out all over her face. At that exact moment I scuttle back in my chair, the wheel catches on the carpet and my arse goes tumbling across the floor of my living room. In the league of unexpected happenings, that shit’s high on the list. I call up my producer friend who tells me to send him a screenshot, I do. He tells me he’ll call me back. He calls me back twenty minutes later. Turns out the dude had Syphilis. My friend wasn’t on set during the shoot and nobody had told him. Now normally in a situation where a cumshot goes ary and nobody on set thinks to give the dude a twenty minute break so they can go for take two, you would usually cut in a moneyshot from a different shoot the girls done and hope nobody notices, or gives a shit. Except that this is the second shoot she’s ever done and the first was a softcore (ain’t no moneyshot there kiddos). This is apparently a very common thing in porn editing, since that day I’ve hear the exact same story told on two different podcasts by two different editors who found themselves staring horrified at the third act of their edit with some poor woman covered in bloody jizz. What is a person to do? Mr. Porn Producer tells me he’ll call me back with an answer. Twenty minutes later that answer is a question…
“I’ve got an extra grand. How good are you at colour correction?”
I laugh my arse off just as I did during our first phone call when he first told me what he did for a living and get stuck right into keyframing a dudes load as it arches through the air. For four hours I meticulously, digitally traced around that crimson ick and turned it white. By days end, the dirty secret had been done and you couldn’t tell the difference. I can now pin that on my board of achievements, right next to being a ghost hunter (camera man on a ghost hunters show, a story for another day).
That was the second of the two times I’ve worked on the ol’ stick flicks.
I had a self imposed rule when I did those jobs. Once was out of curiosity, twice was for the money. A third time would be for shits and giggle…and also the money. Because, y’know, never forget lesson number one.
Cumshots pay the bills…even the bloody ones.