Madness may not even know about this. His under-the-radar status, which is continually threatened by his refusal to shoot a lousy scene or turn the soundtrack up too loud, is not the result of any paranoid disorder or checkered past. He’s busy, OK?
Frankly, the numbers are better than “OK,” they’re pretty incredible. It took Madness just about 10 years to amass 300-plus directing credits (he has a relative handful of acting credits), which is an astonishing 2.5 titles per month. He understands moviemaking and its technology, but knows the most important ingredient in any enterprise is people.
He didn’t burst on the scene with a “new paradigm” or an alt-something-or-other. It was more like he bubbled up to the surface over a few years in the early- to mid-1990s.
After debuting with Elegant Angel, Madness did some acting and directing before switching to a sales position with another adult firm. He bounced back to Video Team to direct again in 1998, and he’s been cranking out the goods ever since.
When it comes to the people who helped Madness along the way, Elegant Angel’s Patrick Collins and Nic Andrews are on the short list. But he has a special fondness for Meredith Christopher of Adam & Eve.
“She’s been a positive influence and a big supporter in my directing career,” Madness confides, “and we’ve created several great projects over the last few years. We do bigger and better shows each year.”
In addition to regular calls from New Sensations, Hustler, Adam & Eve and others, Madness also has his own imprint, Madness Pictures. He recently launched MadnessPictures.com as a full-service portal offering titles in regular and HD formats. The latest entries in his two long-running series, “12 Nasty Girls Masturbating 13” and “13 Cum Hungry Cocksuckers 8,” are there in all their sexaddled glory, in addition to video-on-demand, mashed-up clips and a full range of novelties from the most recognizable adult brands.
XBIZ spoke with the tightly scheduled Madness in late October.
XBIZ: What was your route to the adult industry?
MADNESS: I was already in video production so the transition wasn’t hard. I started fairly young, but a number of people helped me, both in the beginning and over the years.
XBIZ: What companies are you working with these days?
MADNESS: I am doing things for Adam & Eve, New Sensations and others, and have my own line. I know my niche, and it’s not a certain genre. Gonzo, features, whatever, I can cover any style. What I really am, for New Sensations and others, is a “hired gun” for contract girls. I know how to showcase the brands, so to speak, and I’m just plain old “Mr. Reliable” on the job.
XBIZ: How do you approach working with the stars, the big names, the contract girls?
MADNESS: I love them dearly. I am becoming a go-to guy for contract girls, as a matter of fact. The “Ashlynn Brooke Goes to College” series is a good example. Ashlynn is a total pro, super easy, fun to work with and smart, too. And Bree Olson, she’s my Number One.
XBIZ: We usually get right into talking about cameras, but our readers will want to know more about how you work so well with both your crews and the talent. What’s your secret?
MADNESS: No secret. For crew, I surround myself with people who know more about their specialties than I do. I don’t do people’s jobs for them and I don’t micromanage. I’d never get off the set with that attitude. I get the best people and let them create excellence. There’s only one standard if you’re putting your name on something, and that is “excellence.”
XBIZ: And the performers?
MADNESS: I relate well to the talent. I’ve been there. Off the top, I don’t stand for any troublemakers, because it’s all business. But I’m not having those problems now because people are more grateful than ever just to be working. When there were just a few top agencies and lots of work, they dictated what was happening, what the prices were, but now there are a number of agencies, and less work. I just communicate clearly with them and get what I want.
XBIZ: Are you a Valley- or Hollywood-type director?
MADNESS: As far as being a hands-on, Valley-type director, that definitely falls into the “yes and no” category. I did do all my own camera work at first, but as I moved up in the business and things got busier, I started using a second camera. I get more content and more coverage with a second camera.
XBIZ: You have a vision in your head that you want to get onto the screen. How do you communicate that?
MADNESS: It’s not about any certain technique. It’s the result of process, of team effort. I always use the best people, like Barry Woods for second camera, because that makes it easier for me and the editors in post. Bottom line? I get gaffers who have better eyes that I do, tell them the area I want to shoot and they paint it with light.
XBIZ: OK, now we want to hear some tech talk about cameras.
MADNESS: My preferred video camera these days is the Sony PMW-EX1 XDCAM. The latest movie I shot was on that, at 1080p, recorded to SxS Pro memory cards. And I have to say, the lens is amazing, the output is amazing, no interlacing. It’s just clean, clear and big as life. The lens is not interchangeable like the Canon but the clarity is amazing and there’s great depth of field.
XBIZ: We’ve heard other directors complain about “seeing every pimple on the girls’ butts,” whereas you sound like an HD lover. Are you?
MADNESS: I’m absolutely loving it, and after using the EX1, I’d say chances are that I will be with Sony forever. These models are pretty pricey still, but truly awesome. I love the look, and I love that there’s no guessing anymore as to what I am seeing on the set as opposed to what I might see later in post. It’s an amazing thing, and everyone should shoot in high resolution anyway. You can do more with it, make low-res clips for the web, grab high-res images for artwork, everything. And better high than low, of course. You’re sure not going to scale up any “low-fi” images and get anything good.
XBIZ: There are some great new computers out there with incredible power-to-price ratios. What do you see happening with the rest of the production chain, after the shoot is done?
MADNESS: There was a point when HD cameras were not totally compatible with the editing systems, and the computers weren’t up to the job. Now the computers are all getting faster, giving you better results sooner. Every advance in the technology is getting us clearer, more realistic color, at higher resolution and, over time, lower cost. The way content is manipulated now, it’s almost like new movies coming out all the time.
XBIZ: OK, it’s official: We’re in a recession, money is tight and people are scared. How will it affect the business?
MADNESS: Companies are not shooting as much, and I‘m hearing more and more stories of people who are not getting enough work. There are so many girls, so much talent, so many people available at all times that there may be an overload of talent right now. So it’s tough, for sure.
XBIZ: You seem to be plenty busy.
MADNESS: I’m grateful for that. But it’s not even work when you’re doing what you love. I’m passionate about what I do. This is life for me, working in the most honest and open industry you can be in.
XBIZ: Does the upcoming election interest you much?
MADNESS: I’ve been through a few administrations since I’ve been in this business, and people always worry that things are going to change with every election. That’s just spinning your wheels, and for me, there is just no time to worry. I’ve seen society change in every kind of way, but the culture has opened up sexually, a lot, and porn is not as taboo as it used to be.
XBIZ: What do you have on the shelves right now, and what’s coming up?
MADNESS: You can see my own line at MadnessPictures.com, but for New Sensations, my most recent work is “Ashlynn Goes To College 4” and “Hearts And Minds 2: Modern Warfare.” For Adam & Eve, my latest releases are “Bree & Sasha,” starring Bree Olson and Sasha Grey, “Kayden Exposed” with Kayden Kross and, coming up in November, “Bree Exposed.”