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Director's Chair: Hard As Steele

Bob Johnson
With all of the “glamour” aside, any porn director will tell you it’s tough enough to get performers to deliver a steamy scene, have it lit correctly, block the shot and make sure they capture the cum shot.

But when a movie has 61 performers, nine scenes and six orgies the task becomes downright heroic. And perhaps taking on such a superhuman task is appropriate for Nicholas Steele who recently directed Bluebird Film’s superhero parody blockbuster, “Bat FXXX: Dark Night.”

Add “Bonny and Clide” with 10 scenes and three orgies along with a host of special effects for both shows and Steele, who is also the CEO of Bluebird Films, joins the ranks of adult directors who are more akin to their Hollywood counterparts than the regular gonzo bunch.

But Steele didn’t take the traditional artist’s route to filmmaking. He left the computer business in which he worked in the ‘80s to start an adult DVD distribution company with his brother who had been working for Caballero.

The duo opened a “one-stop” adult business in 1991 and quickly cut a deal distributing movies for director Andrew Blake.

“There was a need in the market for good quality product and I needed more product to fill these needs (Andrew Blake only did two movies per year), so I started by hiring mainstream directors, soon discovering that these directors were very good at delivering a good quality picture, but not necessarily a good erotic sex film,” Steele says.

And Steele had an epiphany: “I felt I had the instincts to deliver hot sex along with a technically sound film so I started directing.”

Although he didn’t have formal film training and only a small amount of photographic experience, Steele says he was committed. “You pay attention to what you are committed to when it’s your money.”

Steele’s quest to create a solid erotic movie centered on the connection between the performers and the consumer. He says that’s the ultimate result for him as a filmmaker.

He also takes inspiration from mainstream directors, pointing to ‘80 s films “Blade Runner” and “Legend” and saying how he admired Ridley Scott’s hands-on approach for scouting locations and attention to detail in pre-production. “He [Scott] really has a talent for making it real for the viewer. I mean American Gangster” and “Black Hawk Down” are masterpieces,” Steele says.

But Steele knows that directing sex is unique.

“If I over-direct the experience that the performers are having, then what is missing is full expression of each performer. If they are fully expressed then the encounter gets translated seamlessly to the viewer. I also think that the biggest erotic muscle in every human being is our imagination. If I can build up an encounter through a setup, ambiance of a scene, lighting and camerawork, then I can build some kind of tension for the viewer. And through this tension the viewer can have an unforgettable and heightened experience,” Steele says.

His virgin attempt at moviemaking was a film called “Fire and Ice” starring Jessica Drake and Tera Patrick. It was released through Adam & Eve and Steele’s Ultimate Pictures/Nicholas Steele Productions.

The director says that thanks to the two big stars and a top-notch crew, his job was easy. He recounts how Drake’s “grassy knoll” and Patrick’s industrial scenes made the movie.

“I also had an eight-foot ice sculpture man made that Keri Windsor did a solo scene with. Jessica and Tera made my job easy. All I had to do is make sure I didn’t fuck things up,” he says.

Steele says he was involved with producing and directing more than 100 movies through Adam & Eve and his own company during the 1991-2008 timeframe that undoubtedly gave him a de facto degree in filmmaking.

But it’s not all art. As CEO of Bluebird Films since 2008, Steele is also pragmatic about how the art translates into dollars for his company.

He describes his directorial approach: “First of all I take my concept and make sure it matches up well with the analytics of the market. This way I can incorporate those aspects into the films. I then come up with things I have never done before and or have never been done in the industry. I then pick a team that buys into the concept and executes against that concept. In post-production I work powerfully to deliver on the visual and hearing the senses of the viewer. This allows the film to deliver on what the viewer really cares about and is dealing with.”

His technical side formally favored Sony F150s that he said gave his films “A nice, soft film look with warm skin tones.” Now, Steele uses Sony EX 3 cameras.

And Steele now has plenty of opportunities to practice his craft in Bluebird’s 250,000 square feet of studio space that spans three countries — the U.S, U.K. and the Czech Republic.

He says Bluebird does everything in house from production to post to marketing and sales. That allows the company to provide a wide mix of international content from genre-based to blockbuster features.

“This gives us control and allows us to be effective in producing the results we want with regard to the quality of the content our customers demand. Our formula is simple: Listen for and reliably deliver that which the customer is dealing with and that which the customer really cares about,” he says.

And Steele and Bluebird are banking on their two blockbusters, “Bat FXXX” and “Bonny and Clide” to hit the mark with fans. Steele said what made these movies rewarding as a filmmaker was the contrast of each movie. “Bonny and Clide” — a period piece with a lot of outdoor locations — and “Bat FXXX,” a heavy greenscreen effects movie.

“The most memorable scene for me [in ‘Bonny and Clide’] was the ending shootout scene. I used an armorist with the authentic guns and special effects squibs for the killing. “Bat FXXX” was mostly a digital movie that was shot on two continents. The green-screen days were really long but extremely fun. Both of these movies have many neverbefore seen girls doing scenes for the very first time and exclusive only to Bluebird,” Steele says.

Not run-of-the-mill porn directing for sure. And Steele is continuing his progressive approach.

“I was the first filmmaker in the adult business to start shooting HD,” Steele says. “What I learned is that it took almost four years for the HD market to catch up to that technology. So the extra cost in shooting an HD production was not monetized for years. In today’s market every company has to be careful that your costs match up well against what the market will provide from a return-oninvestment standpoint. So once there is a viable 3D market we will compete in that space,” Steele says.

For now, big-budget parodies with exclusive Bluebird stars including Anna Lovato, Kara Kane and Rio Lee who starred in “Bat FXXX” are the mainstay for Steele.

He says, “Parodies provide something to the market that I have always enjoyed, which is good humor combined with good sex. My hat is off to Hustler and New Sensations for bringing this market to life. I remember one of my oldtime favorite adult movies was the ‘Autobiography of a Fly.’ Great stuff, but shit does that age me.”

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