"I'm the one and only director with Naughty America," Brando told Capps, who described the filmmaker as "an older frat-boy type, complete with shoulder pack," who looked like "Bill Gates, sans glasses." Brando told Capps that Naughty America, a San Diego-based company that has a decidedly different business model and corporate outlook than most other adult film studios, was not doing films and was all Internet, except that the content would eventually be re-purposed for DVDs.
Brando added that "the old days of people buying features" are over, and that the company is riding "the wave of the future."
Brando and Naughty America's principals caught that wave together and have taken the company from its humble beginnings through dramatic growth — growth that's all the more remarkable given that the company has a corporate position against demeaning, degrading or disrespectful portrayals of women. "Some hardcore is disturbing," Brando says, "and who wants to see that? We have had opportunities to go in a dark or sinister direction, but I'd like to think we're just doing good sex without being demeaning."
XBIZ spoke with Brando recently about just how Naughty America will continue riding that wave into the future.
XBIZ: What is your camera of choice, and why? And do you use digital still cameras for blocking out shots, storyboards or anything else?
BRANDO: My photographer and I use the Nikon D70 for stills. For shooting scenes, I use the Panasonic DVX100B. When I first started, I used a Sony 2100, but I picked up the Panasonic one day and never touched the Sony again. The 100B feels really good in my hands and the LCD screen is nice and big. Now, I'm not necessarily a techie guy, but I know what works.
XBIZ: How is the Panasonic to use? Do you get all the shots with it or use something smaller for POV?
BRANDO: I use the Panasonic for everything. I do use a heavy battery, so sometimes it's difficult for POV and I get bad shoulder burn after a while. I just hit the gym and talked to a trainer and went through some high-rep exercises to get my shoulders strong for the POV shooting.
XBIZ: Do you like the look of digital? How do you get the best results for color, clarity and everything else?
BRANDO: Digital material looks great, and it's an advance in the adult industry product. People are fighting the digital thing because they think they're losing authenticity, but for our industry, it's all digital and it's getting better and better. It looks really good.
XBIZ: Jerome Tanner told us recently that digital cameras "really love light." What kind of light sources do you use?
BRANDO: I always have Kinos with me, and I shoot with a mix of them and natural light. Even outside I always have a Kino or two on hand to absorb any shadows. Honest, I go nowhere without my Kinos. It was a huge day when I read the Panasonic manual because I learned how to adjust the blowouts and monitor exactly how light was affecting the shot.
XBIZ: How is the camera for audio capture?
BRANDO: A good microphone is important. I use a Sennheiser mic in spot and shotgun modes, and in a general boom arrangement above the subjects. It goes direct to the camera input.
XBIZ: How are you doing your editing?
BRANDO: We use Avid Express Pro. Eddie at Naughty America is awesome, and we're going together to an editing convention in New York in October. I really want to learn to do it a lot better.
XBIZ: How did you come to be in the business? And what's it like working day to day with Naughty America?
BRANDO: Growing up I had friends who were artists. I never could write the music or lyrics, but I could make pictures and make up porn scenes. Today, it's Naughty America for life. I've been here as it has grown from infancy, and it's been like watching a kid grow up. When I first came on board it was me and a photographer and that was it, and we've grown leaps and bounds. We've done something special, while still respecting women. Any company can come and make a quick buck, but we're in it for the long haul. We function like a well-oiled machine. If I ask for equipment, I get it because the owners know I need it. It's all about flow with me, down to the makeup girl and production assistant, and it shows in the work.
XBIZ: How is your working relationship with Naughty America, and are you exclusive with them?
BRANDO: My working relationship with Naughty America is awesome. My boss and producer are really close friends of mine, and for that I consider myself very fortunate. Yes, I am exclusive with Naughty America. I'm what you call a lifer — it's "Naughty America for life!"
XBIZ: Who are the leading adult directors in your estimation? And who are the guys (and gals) looking like the leaders of tomorrow?
BRANDO: Honestly, Andrew Blake's "Secrets" and the two "Night Trips" changed my life. I don't imitate anyone, but Blake is someone I would emulate because he made women sexy without the cheap shots. It's about respecting women. More recently, Johnny Darko, John Leslie — there's so much talent.
XBIZ: Where is the business headed, content-wise? Is there still room for everything, for every taste?
BRANDO: Big features, big porn "movie events" and designer movies — I like all that. There's room for everyone. I am so impressed with what our guys [in the adult industry] have done with "Pirates" and big-budget productions like that. But our niche is vignette style, reality-based material. After we did the fifth or sixth website with vignettes, I thought, "When is this going to stop? Reality TV is even dying." But it keeps getting bigger and better for us, because people can relate to the stories.