LOS ANGELES — Director Brad Armstrong celebrated the first-day release of “Aftermath,” his latest Wicked Pictures feature, with an informal home gathering for press and media reps. The director and the movie’s co-stars, Jessica Drake and Tyler Nixon, answered questions and related anecdotes about the project on Sept 4.
The story concerns a woman’s relationship with the 18-year-old son of a long-deceased man who had been her lover 15 years earlier. (Ryan Driller plays him in flashback.) It’s told from the point of view of the boy who finds the woman’s photos among his father’s effects and tracks her down in New York City.
The movie, Armstrong said, is “not exactly a love story but something way more desperate than that.”
Drake, of course, is Wicked’s reigning contract star and, offscreen, Brad’s significant other, but she wasn’t the first person he cast. That was Nixon, who is 26 but one of the few males in the business who could pass for 18. “I wrote the part with Tyler in mind. He is the only one I ever saw when I was writing the script.”
But, “it was a 50-page script with a lot of dialogues, and I wasn’t aware of his abilities.”
The problem was getting him to come in for a reading. Tyler and his agent were initially unresponsive — to Armstrong’s vast displeasure — and when the actor finally agreed to meet with him he missed his first two appointments.
Nixon said it was simply because of nerves. “I was terrified. If you put me on the spot and judge me, I’ll crumble,” he confessed.
When he finally heard him read, Armstrong thought he was “a little green, but definitely moldable.” He told him later, “This is going to be Acting 101 for you, and unfortunately you’ll soon start doing it for other fucking directors.”
Nixon said he found it “nerve-wracking” to be thrown into the mix with more experienced actors. “My biggest concern was to deliver what the director wanted,” adding with pride, “I can still recite the script.”
For Drake, who has had the lead in many Armstrong features, including “Fallen,” “Underworld,” “Speed” and “Coming Home,” the part was unusual because it was “the first movie where I officially played ‘the older woman.’”
She found the role “dramatically different. It was a challenge working with someone I’d never worked with before. But I learned very quickly that he was well prepared.”
Drake and Nixon have not just one but several sex scenes, each very different from the others, according to Drake. She also has a flashback scene with Driller and throws herself into an orgy at a Manhattan swing club where she takes her young lover.
“I try to stay in character while having sex,” she said, “but it’s gotta be about me for a little while. Fortunately, Nina (her character) has some of the same sex tastes as I do.”
Armstrong revealed that he was deeply impressed by the Graham Travis movies “Portrait of a Call Girl” and “Wasteland,” released by Elegant Angel — “radically different from the usual porn feature.” He was struck by the way they transcended the formulas for X-rated movies that he’d been more or less adhering to for 20 years.
“Aftermath,” he said, “has a kind of indie-film vibe, very different from what I’ve shot before.”
The director, stars and crew spent two days shooting indie-style in New York City, where they were blessed with good weather and non-interference. “We were able to shoot everywhere we wanted with no hassles. It was crazy easy. Completely different than shooting in L.A.” Locations included Central Park, Times Square and the Staten Island Ferry.
The director gave special props to cameraman Alex Ladd and editor Scott Allen, as well as to Brandi Love, who plays Tyler’s mother, and porn vets Bonnie Rotten and Xander Corvus, who pop up in “quirky little character-actor parts” as a couple Tyler meets on a Greyhound bus.
The movie ends with an “a-ha moment,” which Armstrong has requested reviewers not to reveal. That ending has generated some low-grade controversy of its own, which Armstrong and the Wicked team were expecting having to deal with.
Armstrong is busy preparing another Wicked feature, “Holly…Would,” a vehicle for contract star Asa Akira, for release by the end of this month.
“Aftermath” is available as a two-disc DVD, with two expanded “Director’s Cut” sex scenes and a BTS featuring interviews with the stars. The movie is also now available for streaming at WickedPictures.com.