A sparse grey room soon filled with smoke. A caged, lonely bird crying out. A handgun with a history. A well dressed man intently staring at a bloody playing card, his tortured thoughts drowned in silence.
From the opening seconds, one thing about Lucas Entertainment’s “Assassin” is clear: This ain’t your typical gay porn — especially in 2012, where a rough economy and the story-free output of cheaper, Web-based porn run rampant. But one quick look at the attention to detail put into the XBIZ Award winner for Gay Movie of the Year proves that there’s hope out there, hope for fans who want a little more — be it a script with purpose, stunning cinematography, moody music or top-notch sets and costumes. All of those combine in “Assassin,” a visually arresting work with an artistic stamp of authority on. Intense, mind-blowing sex? Yeah, it has that, too.
It’s 2012, the audience has seen it all. You can only fuck an ass in so many ways before you have to bring something else to the table. — Marc MacNamara
“Speaking for myself, my penis loves a good story. I mean, he’ll stand up for a hot body, but what really puts passion in his pump is the involvement in the scenario,” says Marc MacNamara, the studio’s publicity director who wrote and co-directed the work (along with Michael Lucas and Mr. Pam). “When there is a reason behind the scene, when there’s a passion to encompass the fucking it just brings it to a heightened level. It’s 2012, the audience has seen it all. You can only fuck an ass in so many ways before you have to bring something else to the table. I want viewers to be entertained in every moment, and to do this you have to employ other emotions besides mere lust.”
MacNamara notes that he felt a lot of pressure — most of it self-induced — to get the film just right. “The focus of the film was to humanize a killer and to make very strong characters, like Adam Killian, vulnerable. Having a narrative with minimal dialogue, it truly was all in the details. I was out in zero-degree weather scouting for ideal locations, we were very specific on what the wardrobe was, what color the sets were painted, the exact position of lighting and what angels the camera caught.”
The result was an effort that at times looked more like an independent feature film showing in mainstream studios. It spoke to audiences and critics alike, and the film provided one of many roles that helped Killian nab Performer of the Year honors.
“I’m very proud of ‘Assassin,’” he says. “It was a killer movie, just very well done with a lot of high production. The way they allowed me to do that whole strip scene in the club was a really cool scene, with Ari Gold singing in the background and a three-piece band playing live and a whole audience to strip and perform in front of. It just allowed the movie to become bigger and better, and kind of have a big voice. I think Michael put a lot of energy into that movie, so it was nice to see that it came out and did a really good job.”
For Lucas — whose tango with Killian provides the thrust of the action — it was a labor of love, harkening back to many other award-winning efforts in his studio’s stable like “La Dolce Vita” and “Dangerous Liaisons.”
“This movie was all about the details, like the intensity in the eyes rather than dialogue. There were beautiful locations and weather challenges. We filmed one chase scene on the coldest day of winter for about five hours. After the shoot was done, I took the longest hot shower of my life,” he recalls.
And with the industry still struggling to find its economic footing and return to its glory days, rare efforts like “Assassin” have become crucial in maintaining a shrinking segment of the business: the big budget, story-based film.
“It is because companies do not have money to produce them. There is no money for creativity, though often times there was no creativity when money was there,” says Lucas. “We always hire very talented creative people in the production department and savvy professionals in our corporate office. That is the only secret to our success. It’s very important to produce the kind of movies that we do. Without these high-budget films, pornography will always be considered cheap and cheesy and will never be considered an art form.”
For MacNamara, a self-professed “guy from a small island in Florida who was going to be stuck fucking gay dolphins in the gulf,” the experience was crazy — in a good way.
“You know that moment on the Maury Povich show when the lovely gentlemen find out they are ‘not the father’? Capture that feeling and put it in your chest. That’s how we felt. You can see in the outtakes that we were literally dancing after the final shot was wrapped. We took our accomplished moment, but then the creative process began with the editors and we sat through hours of footage to find the precise pieces we wanted to show.”
But like the models, MacNamara also had to suffer for his art: “This is the first movie I allowed filming in my apartment. I moved shortly after due to my walls being permanently scarred by lube and spit from Wilfried Knight and Drew Cutler.”