Filmmaker Tony Dimarco is very pleased to learn a viewer believed a gas station central to a pivotal scene in his multi-XBIZ Awards-nominated “Route 69” for Falcon Studios was authentic. Although the location is real — a crumbling, long-abandoned concrete factory in the desert outside Las Vegas — his crew under extreme time constraints created the station. “We painted it, rented a gas pump. Mind you, we painted in the morning and put the decals on the building, we set up and blocked and shot the scene, and we broke it down and [traveled] back to the studio to shoot another scene. What you see is impressive, but what’s more impressive is what you don’t see. My crew went out there and created this out of nothing.”
Dimarco, an East Coaster through-and-through, now resides in San Francisco where he works full-time as senior director for Falcon Studios Group, tasked with creating twelve movies a year featuring a mix of studs signed to an exclusive contract (such as square-jawed dreamboat Ryan Rose) and rising newcomers (including Alam Wernick, plucked from an explosively popular OnlyFans account). When he spoke to XBIZ, he had just wrapped filming for “Zack & Jack Make a Porno” featuring Wernick with Woody Fox, Skyy Knox, JJ Knight and Wesley Woods.
When we’re filming, I’m thinking about framing; as a designer, you’re thinking about composition and positive space and negative space. That carries over to filmmaking and thinking about the time frame it takes something to happen and tempo — it’s a different level of design, but it’s still the basics of design.
Fans of his carefully composed skinflicks may be surprised to learn that he is a self-taught filmmaker and a graphic designer by trade. In 1996, Dimarco began dating legendary performer Donnie Russo. The pair collaborated on a website (it was “very, very early on in the website days,” he says with a chuckle) and from there he moved on to “webcam fetish sites, smoking fetish, foot fetish, that kind of thing. That’s where I [laid] the groundwork in terms of camerawork and editing.
I first started doing photographs on productions and [moved] up — and that was on top of a day job in design work.”
A subsequent collaboration with another pair of industry legends — performer-entrepreneur Ray Dragon and director Joe Gage — led to an offer to join the production team of Lucas Entertainment, where Dimarco’s keen eye for design and craftsmanship began drawing industry attention with such lavish epics as “Michael Lucas’ La Dolce Vita” and “Dangerous Liaisons.”
After a few years, director Chris Ward lured Dimarco to Raging Stallion Studios. “I was at a point in my life where I was young enough that I could move coasts and nothing was really tying me down,” he recalls. “It was the perfect opportunity to do something completely new.” Ward specifically wanted a filmmaker in his stable and a collaborative partner, Dimarco says, with “storytelling abilities — my scriptwriting and camerawork — as a strength.” His first project was the star-studded, multi-part military epic “To the Last Man,” one of the company’s largest productions. “That was a pretty big thing to jump into,” Dimarco says. “It certainly was an epic project for him. That got the ball rolling for developing my skills to a different level. At Lucas Entertainment, I learned a lot of good basics and a lot of really, good practical things.” At Raging Stallion, Dimarco notes he was able to immerse himself in “higher-end production techniques,” which he now applies to his directing work at Falcon.
Throughout his education in graphic design and photography, Dimarco nurtured a lifelong passion for filmmaking as well as a passionate drive to apply what he learned to his own artistic urges. “I would read a lot of books and watch a lot of videos and analyze stuff. I didn’t just show up with a camera. It took a lot of time and practice and making a lot of mistakes. Even at this stage in my career, I’m still making mistakes. They’re not as big as when I was younger. But as you get older, there are still things you can learn from the process, no matter where you are with your skill level.”
Dimarco still applies training to his process of making adult films. “Photography and graphic design are obviously static designs. Film is a [moving] version of that. It’s about framing and composition and it’s constantly moving. When we’re filming, I’m thinking about framing; as a designer, you’re thinking about composition and positive space and negative space. That carries over to filmmaking and thinking about the time frame it takes something to happen and tempo — it’s a different level of design, but it’s still the basics of design.”
He cites Gage as a key influence. “I learned a lot from watching his stuff. Intention and set-up are really important. I try to [create] that in what I do. It’s often the best and most erotic part of the scene. If it’s just two guys in a room, it can be hot if the guys are hot and they’re into each other. But if you’re [wondering], ‘Is it going to happen, is it not going to happen?’ then I think it just raises the anticipation in the viewer to the point where they’re really excited. And I try to create that in my work where I can. Story is really important; set-up is really important.”
Dimarco chuckles at the suggestion that he’s drawn to complex scenarios, which inevitably have many moving parts when it comes to production. “I do that to myself,” he says, returning to the draw of a good story. “But I always like to know why something is happening. As a viewer, you want to buy into the fantasy of what’s happening.” Last year’s acclaimed “Route 69” began five years earlier as an idea about exploring the history of all-male adult in the modern era. When Raging Stallion merged with Falcon Studios, Dimarco realized he had a compelling story, an opportunity to “explore the history and the legacy” of the company with current-day performers and “pay homage” to his forebears.
With more than two decades logged as an adult industry filmmaker, Dimarco, like most of his colleagues, has been at the center of a massive cultural shift in how consumers view porn — in fact, many of them are now creating it themselves. He has observed “an interesting dichotomy” in recruiting potential performers. They balk at making an actual adult film, which they consider too “mainstream,” even as they upload their own content via OnlyFans or a similar service.
Although he is a filmmaker and artist steeped in classic filmmaking techniques, with an investment in storytelling and the history of his industry, Dimarco works to stay current with shifts in consumer tastes. Fan-created content is “really intriguing,” he observes. “It shows something that produced porn doesn’t necessarily capture all the time. I try to include that in my work. ‘How do I make it more natural? How do I give the [performers] more freedom? How do I capture the essence of that intimacy?’ It’s a different beast; it’s not filming with an iPhone. It’s an interesting time right now. It will be interesting to see, over the next five years, how it plays out.”
Dimarco remains energized by the challenges posed by the creative process and in developing concepts — “and then realizing those concepts,” he says. “That’s the rewarding part. Whether it works or not, just creating something from start-to-finish is kind of remarkable. It’s a joy to look at something that was just on paper and now it’s a physical thing. That’s very rewarding. For me, [the question] is, ‘How do I do better?’ This is a business and you have to constantly produce. I do twelve movies a year. That’s a lot. There are a lot of moving parts. But it’s a very proud moment when [a movie] comes out and people think it’s easy.”