Three years ago a new DVD line broke into the market hocking something the company’s owners coined “gonzality” and soon set a new standard for gonzo-style shooting. Sudden Impact has been stocking the shelves — but not saturating the market — with its reality-themed gonzo content with great success, despite the steady market decline of the DVD, and it’s all thanks to the Internet.
Wait ... what?
Sudden Impact owner Derek Dozer brought his gonzo expertise to the Internet in 1998 when he stared working with online affiliate network Traffic Cash Gold, and he said that as his library of scenes grew, he realized he needed to make the content available to an offline audience.
“As the web grew, it was a nobrainer at the time to get our foot in the door when the DVD market was booming,” Dozer said.
While studios now scramble to convert their DVD content into webfriendly clips and develop content-heavy sites designed to appeal to an Internet-savvy fanbase, Dozer and Sudden Impact do the opposite, shooting stills and video strictly for the web, and then later deciding what would work best to replicate on a disc.
“We’re releasing on DVD according to what we see gets the best response online,” Sudden Impact sales representative Dani Vargas said. “Our MILF, big boob, and couples series do extremely well. We want our customers that may still enjoy going to a retail store to buy the actual DVD to get the same experience.”
And rather than spitting out 30 DVDs a month and seeing what sticks, Vargas and Dozer said they only release on DVD the content that they know will sell, which means Sudden Impact releases two titles per month, and only has a library of 36 titles.
“In today’s market, [our content] is definitely influenced more so through online customers,” Vargas said. “And we have to use our best resources to provide the best DVD. By limiting our new releases, we have a better opportunity to focus more on quality. We’ve become tighter with our loyal customers and cater more to specific needs and what works best for their sales, as well, rather than pushing a third or fourth release, a 20-hour compilation, or a Blu-ray feature.”
Dozer said Sudden Impact has remained on top of its game because it was one of the first companies to focus their sites on gonzo content, and they had time to learn the ropes. He said it is a hard transition for traditional gonzo shooters because there is a different formula to capturing the scenes and stills necessary for a successful tour and members area — there’s more to it than just shooting a few rolls of film.
We were the first to start, and soon everyone else started hiring the main gonzo guys who’d been doing it for 10 years,” Dozer said. “They needed work and were following the money train [online]. But when it comes to the Internet side of it all, it’s all about images. The video part was secondary compared to the images needed for a good tour.”
Dozer said for a traditional gonzo scene “back in the day” before the Internet, two or three rolls of film was all that was needed for each scene. Now, he takes up to 1,000 digital images before each scene, a step that he said shooters have the most trouble with.
“People had trouble getting the right images for the [online] tour,” Dozer said. “If the images stunk for the tour, then the tour sucks, and then people aren’t going to look at the site.”
Though Dozer said most shooters have gotten the hang of it now, he believes his content stands out in the sea of gonzo because of his attention to detail.
Dozer’s scenes are set up with furniture and props, the sets are lit well, cameras are focused and white balanced, and — most importantly — he uses the top male performers known to be able to take the task at hand head-on and the newest girls ready to break onto the scene.
Dozer said he and his partner created “gonzality” during the reality-TV boom, and it was a natural development using his gonzo shooting skills to create steamy scenes with a reality-style plot thread.
“I wanted to bring the funny reality-based pickup style with the good gonzo style shooting that we did, with good lighting, good camera work, and bringing in some top gonzo performers,” Dozer said.
Dozer said he decided to make the Sudden Impact line of DVDs mimic the style of the popular Traffic Cash Gold sites on which the content was initially appearing, and used that as the line’s main marketing tool.
“We wanted to make it look like it does when you go to the sites, and keep it with how the tour looks,” Dozer said, “to see if the customers put two and two together. Internet porn sinks into people’s psyches because they’re on it all the time. It’s always there and it sinks into their subliminal. Most of our best-sellers are our flagship sites — Mr. Big Dicks, Please Date My Wife, the main sites with the most traffic — and our most popular DVDs are the most popular online content.”
Dozer said Sudden Impact DVDs rarely have much BTS footage or special features, other than a nice photo gallery, and each DVD is comprised of six separate scenes with a simple boxcover. Dozer said the company has a reality-style cover and gonzo-style cover they usually use — gonzo featuring one hot girl on the front, and reality featuring multiple girls in one setting — but they are exploring ways to evolve those traditional looks.
“What we’re focusing on is giving the customers exactly what’s inside without overwhelming them on the cover,” Vargas said. “We choose the hottest image possible so there’s less to think about. The days of wall-towall flesh on the cover are being reduced. When you see an ad for ice cream, they don’t display all 31 flavors, but you know they’re inside waiting for you.”
And Sudden Impact’s other “trade secret” is making sure its 31 flavors are always fresh so that its customers taste buds don’t get bored.
“We’ve always been known for shooting new girls; I think that’s how most people on the web know our sites,” Dozer said. “They want to see new fresh girls, not the same girls shot 100 times. We try to get new girls on the site as much as we can. [Talent] agents come through our office every day.”
Dozer said he thinks most new girls prefer to make their debut with Traffic Cash Gold and Sudden Impact because of Dozer’s and his team’s casual and trustworthy attitude toward the porn they shoot.
“We’re laid back and like to keep everything at the studio as laid back as possible,” Dozer said. “It’s porno, it’s not that serious, and agents like to bring new girls to me because they know we’re not going to make them do anything they don’t want to. We make them feel comfortable.”
It’s clear Sudden Impact’s fan base appreciates the efforts Dozer and Vargas put into their work, and Dozer said the company’s new headquarters overseas hosts an entire room full of research and development staff to see what’s new on the web and what customers are asking for.
“That kind of feedback helps,” Dozer said. “It helps 100 percent for customer retention.”
Customer retention is what pays the bills, and as DVD sales continue to decline — “Everyone knows DVD will probably be gone in the next three or four years,” Dozer predicted — Dozer and Vargas hope that after some of the less successful content companies fold, Sudden Impact will benefit.
“There are a lot of companies going under,” Dozer said, “and we’re hoping that maybe when the dust clears we will still be there to fill the void of companies that have fallen to the wayside.”