educational

Making Your Mark in Porn: 2

Matt O'Conner
In part one we examined some of the technical requirements of adult filmmaking. Today we'll look at talent, distribution and beyond.

Action
Now you have a room full of equipment, you need people to operate it, performers to work in front of it and a place to shoot, tasks that can present almost overwhelming obstacles to fledgling porn companies.

"Finding crews is the hardest thing ever," Sabi warns. "People will tell you they're the best at whatever they do, but then you get them on set and they'll admit in the first five minutes that they really don't know what's going on."

Amorz' Taki has been directing adult movies in his native Japan for more than 20 years but confesses his staff "is still far from the quality I want."

NJ Films is fortunate in that co-owner Nelson is also a videographer, but unless you or a partner have experience behind the camera, Sabi says your best bet for finding good people is word of mouth. "You try to ask people you trust to refer people," he says. "Other than that, the only thing you can do is try people out and see if they can get the job done."

Fortunately, finding performers is a bit less complicated, thanks to the large number of adult talent agencies currently operating, from Jim South's World Modeling agency, which has been operating in Porn Valley for nearly 30 years, to newer firms such as Frank Prather's Bad Ass Modeling.

"Established agents are much easier to work with," NJ Films co-owner Knowles tells XBiz. "It's less work than placing ads or getting tons of calls. The girls have been screened to make sure they're legal age, their IDs have been checked out, they have their AIDS tests, and the agency may even shuttle them around, so they actually get to the location on time."

Sabi says many uninitiated producers are tempted to try to save some money by using "non-pros," but it usually ends up costing them more in the end. "I'd much rather work with an agent because I know the girl will show up," he says. "New girls change their minds at the last minute, or sometimes they stay out and party the night before and decide to sleep in. When a girl shows up at 4 p.m., and you're paying [for crew and location] by the hour, the shoot can cost you way more than it should."

How much will it all cost? A good cameraman will charge about $500 per day, with most gonzo shoots lasting three days. Male performers make anywhere from $0 when first starting out all the way up to $900 per scene if (and only if) they are able to establish a reputation for delivering the goods and the female performers enjoy working with them. Female performers range from a couple hundred dollars for girl/girl and blowjobs up to $2,000, depending on fan following and what acts they are willing to perform.

Also, count on spending $150-$300 per day for a makeup artist and another $700-$1,500 for location rental.

Getting It Into Stores
As anyone who has ever worked in movie production — whether mainstream or adult — already knows, making a movie is the easy part. The hard part is finding distribution. Distributors like to see a company's sales track record before picking up a line, but it's impossible to establish a track record without distribution.

"We needed solid distribution, but as a newcomer, that's a Catch-22 scenario, which causes many companies to sink before they ever have a chance to swim" Mullen explains.

"Distribution is all about having the right sales guy," adds Sabi. "The biggest thing is finding someone who's well known and trusted in the industry."

The first step is simply finding out who's who in the industry. The next step is getting into the same room with them and forging a relationship. Like any other businesses, it all comes down to networking.

"Since we are a new studio and only have a little publicity in the States, we're always attending industry parties to meet people in the business," says Amorz' Chang. "Trade shows are a must for us. [During] the first year of our production company [2004], we only attended AEE. After the great response there, we decided this year we would add a couple of extra shows, including VSDA and the Venus show in Germany."

In 2006, Chang adds, the company plans to also attend the Internext shows as well as Australia's Sexpo.

While there's no hard-and-fast formula for getting distributors interested in your products, distributors tend to know what will sell and what won't, so the cream tends to rise to the top. As a rule, good products — ones with high production values, attractive performers and hot sex scenes — get distribution. Inferior products do not.

But even with savvy distributors pushing your product, there's still plenty of work to be done, from sending girls out to make appearances at video stores and radio stations to handing out free T-shirts and posters at erotica conventions and strip clubs. The most successful producers also are relentless — and relentlessly creative — promoters.

In other words, after you get done working hard, be prepared to work even harder for as long as you choose to remain in the business. As Knowles says, "Too many people get into this business thinking they can get rich quick, but it doesn't happen that way. It's a daily struggle to build up your name and your reputation."

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