'Smut Capital' Documentary Set for Festival Release

David Maxwell
SAN FRANCISCO — "Smut Capital of America," a documentary tracing the birth of hardcore film in the United States, has finished production and is looking for distributors as it prepares for festival release. The documentary short by adult industry veterans Michael Stabile (TheSword.com, Wet Palms), Ben Leon (Raging Stallion) and Jack Shamama (Golden Gate, I Want Your Love) tells the story of San Francisco in the late '60s and early '70s, a time when the city was the center of porn production in the U.S.

“Stag reels had been available secretly for years,” Stabile said, “but in the late '60s San Francisco began pushing the boundaries of what could be shown in theaters. In early 1970, the city began showing hardcore and within a few months, everyone in the country was showing it.” The film traces the history by talking to directors, theater owners, actresses and consumers (including director John Waters) who witnessed the porn explosion in San Francisco, and the backlash that followed.

Stabile and Leon finished editing the movie in September, but came across an unexpected financial hurdle: the rights to use those early movies and news reports can cost as much as $200 per second, in addition to the cost of transferring that delicate 16mm stock. While the principals on the film are working without pay, the budget quickly escalated. With the help of producer Shamama, the team turned to the social networking micro-payment site Kickstarter.com to raise funds. The site allows individual donors to contribute to projects via donations as little as $1.

They set their goal on Kickstarter at $5,000 – roughly half the of the total production budget. By tapping into their social networks on Twitter, Facebook as well as via Shamama and Stabile’s popular GayPornBlog.com, the filmmakers were able to raise $5,691 with the help of 76 backers in under 30 days, ultimately exceeding their goal by 13%.

“We’re not doing this to get rich,” Stabile said. “We’re doing this to tell a story before it’s lost.” In return for donations, the team pre-sold the short and offered producer credits to larger donors. The team is currently in talks with distributors.

“The fund-raising process not only helped us subsidize production, it helped bring us to the attention of mainstream press and production partners who are interested in developing the film further.”

For information, contact michael@fauxjob or visit SFSmut.com.

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