opinion

Porn Dollars and Cents

Matt O'Conner
There's a widely held misconception among people who have never worked in the adult entertainment industry that making a porn movie is a path to quick riches.

Buy a video camera, place a few ads in your local paper, and you're in business — at least according to conventional wisdom.

There's no telling how many would-be adult filmmakers have found out the hard way, after spending countless hours and investing thousands of dollars, that producing an adult film — not to mention launching an entire line for distribution — is significantly more expensive than the average fan would guess.

Just how expensive?

While numbers vary considerably from company to company, most producers XBIZ spoke with say a typical gonzo movie costs between $20,000 to $30,000 to produce, author and package, while feature movies average $50,000 to $75,000. Though it is more rare, some big-budget productions have been rumored to cost in excess of $1 million.

But it isn't just the cost of one film that a prospective producer has to grapple with. "You have to have four movies ready to go and be working on your fifth in order to interest distributors and show them you can turn out a consistent product," John Knowles, co-owner of NJ Films, tells XBIZ.

"If someone wants to get started in this business and do it right, they need to have $500,000 invested," Sabi, owner of Critical X adds.

Here's a look at some sample expenses an aspiring producer might face:

Lights, cameras...

  • Digital camcorder: $2,300

  • High-definition camera: $5,000

  • Lighting equipment: $3,000

  • Lenses, tripods, monitors: $5,000-$10,000

  • Editing stations: $20,000-$40,000

Human resources...

  • Cameraman: $1,500 for three-day shoot

  • Male performers: $150-$900 per scene

  • Female performers: $600-$2,000 per scene depending on content

  • Makeup artist: $150-$300 per day

  • Location rental: $700-$1,500

Networking and promotions...

  • Convention booth rental, travel: $20,000-$30,000 per year

  • Free swag (promotional posters, T-shirts): $10,000 per year

  • Talent appearance fees: $10,000 per year

  • Publicity: $2,500-$7,500

The range of costs involved in producing and marketing an adult video mirror the range in production quality that these titles exhibit. From homemade gonzo shoots to big-time productions, a variety of solutions are available to satisfy the needs of any project. Click the link below and share some of your cost structures, and in doing so, help us further define the costs of adult video production.

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