Now it's time for one of the "unsung heroes." They are the directors who work hard every day, year in and year out; who wield the cameras and roll the jibs, not because they have to but because they love to; who are the first to arrive and the last to leave the set; and who continue to put flick after flick in the can for their companies — on-time and on-budget.
They do it all without getting super famous or fabulously wealthy. "But as long you're making money and having fun," asks performer-director Mark Wood, "what can be so bad?" Wood knows about being "unsung"; he was nominated three times by the XRated Critics Organization as "unsung swordsman" but never won. Then he was nominated for one of the major performer of the year awards and didn't win that either. But he kept right on working.
Married to one of the industry's most exotic "it" girls of the 1990s, Francesca Lé, Wood started in the business in 1997. "I came in from Las Vegas, of all places," says Wood, making it sound as if it's odd for anyone to leave Sin City. "My family's there, but I came out here to do the music thing, the Hollywood thing."
A familiar story, that "Hollywood thing," but whereas many Tinseltown tales find the poor, disillusioned guy or gal grabbing a bus back home after a tough night or two in town, Wood is made of sterner stuff. "Things were tough, and I figured, 'let me try it,' so I did," Wood says of his first porn shoot. He chuckles as he recalls how the thought of a new career didn't exactly hit him like a bolt of lightning. "It was other people who said 'do it for a living,' actually."
He got his first break with Legend, a "good old-fashioned kind of company," where he stayed for three years. He and his wife then made films together that were distributed by JM Productions, but "when Red Light District said 'come here' and do my thing," Wood says, "I couldn't pass it up." He hit the ground running, and his latest film, "Addicted to Boobs 2," with Riley Evans, was released Dec 18.
XBIZ spoke to Wood late one night in mid-December, after he followed up a long day on the set with an evening game in his basketball league.
XBIZ: Mark, when people found out that we were going to interview you, more than one asked, "Is he directing now?" What's that all about?
MARK WOOD: I guess I've sort of flown under the radar, you know? I've directed about 110 films, actually.
XBIZ: Our readers always want to know how directors get their first gigs. What does it take to get, or make, a break? What was the path, the learning curve, for you?
WOOD: I came out here with a band and even kept playing after I started in adult, which was nine years ago. But three years in I'd learned enough and met enough people to [start directing].
XBIZ: It sounds like anyone who works hard and sticks around can get a shot at directing. But it's a lot harder to stay a director than become one, right?
WOOD: Yep. I was glad to hook up with Legend. They gave me a chance. My deal there lasted three years, and it was a good learning place. I was doing three movies a month, and I put a lot into it. I would pick the boxes, work with the art, everything.
XBIZ: What is your camera of choice, and why?
WOOD: I use the Sony DCR-VX2000, and the one after that, the 2100. It's not HD, and everybody's into that now. It's all hi-def, all the time. But the Sony's light enough to move everywhere and puts out great images. I just like the way it works, the way it makes things look.
XBIZ: This hi-def "debate" that's going on now is reminiscent of the music business in the 1990s, with everyone arguing about digital recording. You're a musician, so I know you remember that. What do you make of the "analog vs. digital" thing in audio, and the regular DV versus hi-def in video?
WOOD: It's simple. In music, it's all about how things sound, and in movies it's about how things look. I just don't know if I want to see every wrinkle and every pimple on everybody's face. Hi-def leaves nothing to the imagination. It's all right there.
XBIZ: Some big Hollywood stars and getting clauses in their contracts to require special filters and certain post-processing when they're shot in hi-def.
WOOD: I'm happy with the Sony. I get the look I want. What else matters?
XBIZ: Just how do you get the look you want? Are you consciously artsy about it, mapping out every shot and angle and calibrating lights to the nth degree and all?
WOOD: I just get the case lights, bounce them off the ceiling the right way for whatever I'm shooting. Nothing fancy.
XBIZ: Do you work with a crew? Do you hand the camera off to a camera operator and point and say, "Action"?
WOOD: No way, I shoot all my own video and all my own stills. When I'm in the scene, Francesca shoots. I know it sounds corny, but we're a good team. She's been in this business 16 years. She's a pro.
XBIZ: Between the two of you, you've learned how to put all the pieces together, and without being tech-heads, right?
WOOD: Man, the tech guys are just a whole different breed. We do it by feel, not numbers. I learned by doing. At Legend, I held my own reins, and it was like graduate school.
XBIZ: And how are things now, with Red Light District?
WOOD: I'm enjoying it. Legend was good, and I'll never say a bad word about them, but I never really felt a part of it there. Red Light has a whole team of people, really good ones. It's a great support system. When you're directing, you want to have the resources to do what you want. I don't have huge budgets, and I'm not doing hi-def. But I get what I need, I do what I love and I own what I do.
XBIZ: What about the future? Are you looking to go mainstream, or be part of the movement to mainstream porn and tidy it up enough for NBC or The Shopping channel?
WOOD: No way. This thing where some people in porn want to be accepted, and be part of society at large — that's bad for porn. It needs to stay a little underground, a little grainy, sort of seedy. I'm OK with all of that. It's real. And I like it real.