When talking business, owner Dan O’Connell mentions the customers — “our fans,” he calls them — as much as any starlet at a signing event. “We have a forum,” says he, “with 68,000 posts from fans,” and they are observant enough to point out the cruise ship backgrounds in some films, “even the costumes and travel sites.” Giving a “different look” to things is an important element in GFF titles, whether it’s a cruise ship, a beach or a room with a view of Old Prague.
VARIETY IS KEY
“So many videos out there show the [San Fernando] Valley as a background,” O’Connell remarks, “with those same swimming pools or houses, the same look. We’ve done a lot of traveling to bring our films different looks.” Makes sense — but Budapest? Why there, and why now? “You can’t give fans the same thing every time,” O’Connell says. After so many movies, it’s hard coming up with storylines. “I’ve written 1000 scenes for this firm, and I always have to figure out what I do next.” Girlfriends Films was “a small fry” for a while, O’Connell recalls, so he always felt a tremendous (self-imposed) pressure to “do things differently than the other folks.” The company has thousands of fans that notice every little detail, and their input is important to O’Connell and his Vice President of Sales, Moose, who strategizes the marketing for GFF titles.
THE LOCAL HELP
“There are some very hot girls in Budapest,” O’Connell says, “but a very small group of girls, probably 10 or a dozen, that are great in girlgirl and are total pros.” He notes that GFF fans tend to like mature ladies, especially when conjoined with younger partners, and Budapest offers the opportunity to work with beautiful, exotic women who are neither onset divas nor command the astronomical sums of American “stars.”
GFF does have its American performers such as fan favorites Elexis Monroe, Chastity Lynn and Prinzzess. Elexis made the trip to Budapest, performing and working behind the camera for O’Donnell. She’ll be returning to Hungary this fall for a second round of movies.
“I was very proud of the work Dan and I did over there,” Monroe says. “… I hope the movies are loved by the fans. The women are so beautiful and a great fit for Girlfriends Films.”
O’Connell adds, “The girls, the backgrounds and the city all give a different look to things. We shot three movies, 12 scenes, after doing a bunch of outside stock shots, walking the streets, showing the sites.” He notes that “even the apartments are different there,” so the entire look and feel of the Budapest productions is unique. The three movies are tied together by a single storyline, wherein Elexis plays a reporter doing a story on the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. She is victimized by some cunning Hungarian gals, and all sorts of sex-charged excitement ensues. The first of the movies was released in late September and the next two will be out before the end of the year.
ONWARD AND UPWARD
GFF won the Free Speech Coalition’s Leadership Award this past February, in recognition of the firm’s “business practices and innovation,” O’Connell notes, as well as its cogent anti-piracy efforts. GFF has been “negotiating for a couple months [and is] close to signing two mobile contracts,” and the firm has been working on its own membership Website, too. “I’m hoping it will be out in early 2011,” O’Connell says, quickly adding, “It’s really hard to do!”
GFF has a strong presence in VOD, has done one cable deal with LFP Broadcasting and is negotiating another now. O’Connell is especially curious to “see how the phone thing works out [and see] if it can compete with our DVD or VOD business.”
1001 DETAILS (AND STORIES)
If you think you’re going to pop over to Budapest and make a killing in porn, think again. There are a thousandand-one details, from getting the girls to getting in and out of the country. “Maybe 30 to 40 percent of the population speaks enough English to get by, but if you run into problems, you need a good translator,” O’Connell says. And he the GFF crew had plenty of stories about working in Eastern Europe, but a gearrelated incident from this summer was instructive.
O’Connell credits Budapest resident and GFF performer Sandra Shine with being not only a total porn pro, but an international problem-solver of sorts. “We always carry our cameras around in special cases, but we sent one camera to Budapest and it arrived with the handle broken. There’s wiring in the handle so Moose had to send a back-up camera, spending $250 to ship it,” O’Connell says. “I never told him this, so he’s going to find out in XBIZ for the first time that it cost $1000 to get that camera released.” Local resident Shine had to deal with Fed-Ex, customs, government bureaucrats and everything else, but she got GFF its camera, and that got them their new Budapest titles. International teamwork saves the day!