Adult industry revenue is notoriously hard to pin down, but its estimated annual value of $5 billion to $8 billion puts the gay market's 5-10 percent share in Donald Trump territory. But the times never stop a-changin' in this business.
One major development of the last few years is the "creative cross-pollination" taking place among adult production companies. When Falcon Studios owner Todd Montgomery decided to re-brand one of his existing lines, Mustang, to tap into a slightly different consumer segment, he needed someone to create its new brand identity. He chose John Bruno, the founder of Massive Studios, who now brings his passion for uncompromising action and "rugged men" to both Mustang and Massive productions.
Bruno signed an agreement with Pulse Distribution in early 2006, giving Pulse exclusive rights to distribute Massive's gay hardcore DVDs in North America. It turned out to be a strong year for Massive, with a quartet of hits that included "Hard Surf" and "Hard Mechanics 2." According to Bruno, the very first "Hard Mechanics," Massive's debut video, "just keeps selling and selling. To date it's Massive Studios' biggest seller." Still, we're told to watch out for "even hotter releases from Massive in 2007."
"I am thrilled to be working with Jim Kohls, Mark Hamilton and their team," says Bruno. "I don't think Massive could be in better hands." Speaking of hands, Bruno's don't just control cameras and turn on light banks, they write scripts, too, and good ones; Bruno's screenplay, "CSI: Cock Scene Investigators," was nominated for several awards in 2006.
XBIZ: How did you come to be a director of adult films, and now a producer and studio owner, too?
Bruno: I had always fantasized about directing an adult film, and one day a wealthy friend suggested we give it a try – and the rest, as they say, is history. Honestly, that first one was a big, big learning experience for me. Before entering this world, though, I was a marketing executive in the motion picture industry. I worked on some pretty huge films and had a wonderful time, I but I knew I didn't want to be stuck doing that for the rest of my career. It's a very demanding job, and I wanted take to some control in my life.
XBIZ: What is you camera of choice?
Bruno: I'm not a super "techie" camera guy, but I like the new Panasonic cameras, the "P2" line. But I have used my old Sony VX-1000 on many of my shoots, and it still does a great job for me.
XBIZ: Are you a hands-on director, or do you rely on a camera operator?
Bruno: I learned filmmaking in college by just picking up the camera and doing it all by myself. But if you can sit and watch a monitor, you pick up a lot more details and come up with better-shot solutions. I do whatever gets me the best results.
XBIZ: What is the "Bruno look"? What is your approach to lighting, set design and other technical details of the shoot?
Bruno: You know, there absolutely is a "Bruno look." For one thing, I really love low, wide-angle shots. In fact, you can't get the camera low enough for me-sometimes I wish I could dig a trench. I don't care much for built sets. I love real, authentic locations. Give me a real basement or a run-down meat locker over a set, any day of the week.
XBIZ: How big is your crew, and what's the vibe on set? How important is good crew chemistry?
Bruno: I like small crews, usually about four or five people. I try to keep it very low-key and relaxed on the set at all times. A tense mood on an adult film set does not help anyone.
XBIZ: What do you think about hi-def (HD) technology? Breakthrough or fad?
Bruno: Right now, I don't give a shit about hi-def. The jury is still out. And do we really want to see every pimple or mole on a man's body? And a lot of productions are claiming to be "hi-def" when they really aren't. I know you can do a lot of color manipulation with it and all, but how many productions can afford that? I saw what Joone did on "Pirates 2" and "Island Fever" and, sure, it looks amazing. But is it worth it? What is the real bottom line of cost versus revenue? I just don't know. Does anybody?
XBIZ: Are gay models and directors still in sort of an "outsider" category in this straight-dominated business? Or has everyone grown up finally?
Bruno: I haven't had a chance to sit down and chat with today's top straight actors, producers and directors. But I am still hearing anti-gay remarks and rumors, which is very sad. I would love to direct a straight video someday. I don't think straight male performers are given the respect they deserve-half the time you can't even see the guy's face in the scene, you just see his cock. That pisses me off.
XBIZ: You've worked in other film genres-shorts, particularly-but do you have time these days to do everything you want to do?
Bruno: I plan to direct more shorts, but just don't have the time. I would love to shoot on 35mm again.
XBIZ: Looking at the industry's changing business models and delivery methods, what's the future of porn — sanitized and "mainstreamed" for MSNBC or stuck in an Internet ghetto?
Bruno: It's a very scary time for the adult business. There will be always be demand for quality product, but delivery options are changing so fast that, from a marketing perspective, it's tough to stand out and look unique. Since DVD sales aren't what they were a few years ago, we are going to make Massive Studio a "pay site." We will be launching our original releases on the Internet first, via subscription, before they hit the stores.
XBIZ: How are things working out with Pulse as your distributor?
Bruno: I'm very grateful to have found a distributor that does the important things — like calling me back and keeping their promises. Pulse is a very professional operation, and I am very lucky to be a part of their family.
XBIZ: What about the future, John? What's ahead?
Bruno: Massive will always deliver hot, nasty sex with the most masculine men around. I'm not concerned about six-packs on models, I just love a rugged man who is in good shape and loves to fuck. Check out the new Massive Studio site that launched in late April. The site is very "organic," continuously growing and changing in look and content.