'Spartacus XXX': An Outdoor Premiere
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — After more than a year of sweat, a few tears and lots of fake blood, "Spartacus XXX: The Beginning" has emerged. On Thursday night, its creators, Marcus London and Tommy Gunn, celebrated the birth at their London-Gunn Ranch north of Los Angeles, the same place it was filmed.
The event was essentially a gathering for friends, out of doors on a warm, mellow night, with a huge projection screen and folding chairs, a bit like a drive-in without the cars. Tommy, in a black t-shirt, and Marcus, in no shirt, spent a lot of time making sure everything was in working order and all the guests had a place to park.
Their ranch, nestled in the rolling brown hills of Agua Dulce Canyon, is a sprawling property. Inside the ranch house was a big table of finger-food, a bar served drinks on the patio, and the screening took place in “the arena,” a sand-covered space where the movie’s gladiator matches took place.
“This is the beginning,” said Gunn, triumphantly. “A movie has been born.”
The fact that "Spartacus XXX" got made at all is a tribute to the partners’ bulldog-like tenacity. The movie is being distributed by Wicked Pictures, but it’s not a Wicked-funded project. A joint venture of London-Gunn Films and Miko Lee Productions, it was shot with their own money in exchange for complete artistic freedom.
Marcus referred to “the three of us and Miko,” the third being their close friend actor Tony DeSergio (absent tonight) whom they credit with the picture’s very convincing production design.
Gunn talked about “all the tasks you have to step up and do.” London enumerated his own: producing, directing, acting, costuming, set building, box-cover design, promotion. And both were working regular jobs within the industry. “You gotta survive and do your own job,” London said.
They figured that with all the time they put in, they wound up earning about a dollar an hour.
Filming began last summer in July 2011. London spent four months editing the footage before showing a rough cut to a small invited audience during the Adult Entertainment Expo in January. Based on their reaction, he made changes in length, music scoring and other areas and shot some patch-in footage to fill in transitions.
The DVD will ship Sept. 18 and should be in stores a few days later.
London and Gunn definitely plan to shoot "Spartacus XXX, Part 2" sometime next year. Part 1 ends with a kind of cliffhanger, and London said, “I don’t like incomplete movies. Part 2 will have more dialogue, less action.” Gunn said it will be “more cinematic. We want to do better.” They have the sets and fight paraphernalia, so they won’t have to start from scratch as they did last year.
Both pronounced themselves “very pleased” with the results. “I don’t think there’s a movie that can match it. For me it’s the perfect erotic film,” London said, more with pride and enthusiasm than brag.
From the post-screening reaction, the audience seemed to agree.
The movie’s action sequences — gladiator fights — are extremely effective, as is the acting, especially by London and Gunn, who set a high standard for the rest of the large cast. A special shout-out should go the fighters’ helmets and visors: hand-made by Gunn, they look like genuine article. The numerous ladies, of course, are all a horny Roman could desire.
For the screening, London showed a specially made 78-minute softcore edit. It included the beginnings of the sex scenes — enough to suggest their potency in full versions. The director later apologized for the somewhat lowered sound level at the outdoor venue. “We had to keep it down because of the neighbors. They know what we do, but we don’t want to rub it in their face.”
Among the guests were cast members Devon Lee, Tanya Tate, Miko Lee (also co-producer), Reno and Ben English, who appeared in his super-agent persona of Derek Hay of LA Direct Models with three lovely young newcomers. Also on hand were Jessica Drake and Brad Armstrong, Sophie Dee, Tessa Lane, Whitney Grace, Tee Reel, Lee Bang, Shylar Cobi, Alexander Raymond and several others.
Photo of Tommy Gunn and Marcus London by Gia Jordan.