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Free Agent Auteur: Casey Calvert Expands Her Directing Horizon

Free Agent Auteur: Casey Calvert Expands Her Directing Horizon

In 2023, storied performer and director Casey Calvert swept the XBIZ Awards with her narrative-driven Lust Cinema movies and earned the title of Feature Director of the Year. She maintained that momentum into 2024, taking home the trophies for Best Screenplay and Director of the Year — Individual Work, both for “Primary 3.” Now, having brought that highly-awarded polyamory trilogy to a close, Calvert is concluding the exclusive Lust Cinema directing chapter of her career and charting a new course out into open creative waters as a free agent.

“Working with Lust Cinema was an incredible experience,” Calvert underscores. “I’m so proud of the work I did there and the impact it’s had on the industry as a whole. My main goal when I started directing for Lust was to create the on-set environment I always wanted as a performer, and I feel like I succeeded at that.”

For me, directing has gone from being a pair of new jeans to a bespoke suit. The way I make movies feels like mine, and I’m confident enough now to fight for what I want.

She reflects with pride on finishing three seasons of “Primary” without losing any of her core cast, and wrapping up a story that began in 2019 with a strong finish in 2023, all without having to compromise her vision or execution.

“I feel like that’s unheard of in adult,” Calvert says. “I also had the opportunity to showcase some of the incredibly talented actors in this industry. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Victoria Voxxx, Kira Noir and Derrick Pierce.”

Calvert emphasizes her gratitude and how thrilling it felt to receive industry recognition with Best Feature in 2023 and two consecutive directorial award wins.

“I think I was able to do something innovative at Lust,” she says. “My films for the past four years have focused primarily on story and character. My biggest goal — and I think my biggest challenge as I pivot into working with other studios — is to keep that sense of story at the core of everything I do.”

A series titled “Chicken,” which Calvert shot for Lust last fall, is currently in post-production and will be coming out this summer. “Chicken” pays homage to 1980s summer movies and stars Lilly Bell, Charlotte Sins, Nathan Bronson, Anna Claire Clouds, Selena Ivy and Hollywood Cash.

As for new projects, Calvert finds it fitting that she is returning in a big way to Adult Time, given how integral the brand was to her early directing trajectory.

“In 2019, I got a phone call from my agent, Mark Spiegler,” she recalls. “He said, ‘Bree Mills is going to call and offer you a job. Say yes.’ Bree did in fact call, offering me a job directing for Girlsway. That phone call literally changed my life. Directing for Girlsway was the perfect place for me to cut my teeth.”

Calvert directed for Girlsway and other Adult Time channels until January 2021, when she signed her exclusive contract with Lust Cinema. But the moment she made her decision to become a free agent again, she texted Mills.

“I admire her so much, as both a creative and an executive,” Calvert says. “I’m so honored to be joining Adult Time as an ambassador, and I’m really excited that this new role includes so many different opportunities.”

Those opportunities include both directing and performing — which Calvert says she still very much loves — plus working with Mills to create new opportunities for other performers to step behind the camera as she has done.

“I’m excited to mentor talent as they explore what they’re capable of as directors and artists,” Calvert shares. 

As for specific upcoming projects, Calvert is currently in talks with Mills and Adult Time about directing a feature for Girlsway, which she anticipates eagerly as a return to her roots, and has been cast as the lead in Mills' big new project for Adult Time opposite Seth Gamble.

“I don’t want to say too much about that project yet,” she teases. “But it’s going to be an acting challenge that will force me to put in some real work. I’m very excited!”

Since the beginning of the year, Calvert has also been directing “Everything Butt” and “Whipped Ass” for Kink.com.

“I’m having a blast with those scenes,” she confesses. “I’m also talking to two other major companies about directing features for them in 2024. It’s going to be a busy year.”

On top of all that, Calvert has several mainstream projects at various stages of conception and completion, including a Western psychological thriller for which the producers are currently working on finalizing funding.

“I have a short that’s very personal and important to me that I’m submitting to festivals now, another short that I’m hoping to shoot in March and a feature script of my own I’d love to get financed for production next year,” she says.

Looking back on her evolution as a director, Calvert remembers struggling with crippling imposter syndrome when Mills first gave her the opportunity to direct.

“Except for a few things in film school, I hadn’t directed anything and really didn’t feel capable of filling that chair,” she says. “Gradually, I relaxed into realizing I could do the job, but always struggled with the fear I wasn’t doing it well or correctly. When I won XBIZ Director of the Year at the 2023 awards, it was a huge validation, much more so than I ever imagined it would be.

“For the first time, I felt like I could exhale and just focus on doing good work,” Calvert adds. “Directing has gone from being a pair of new jeans to a bespoke suit. The way I make movies feels like mine, and I’m confident enough now to fight for what I want.”

With her newfound professional freedom, Calvert looks forward to pairing her storytelling with new visual aesthetics.

“I really want to stamp each film I do this year,” she explains. “I don’t want them to all look the same; I want each one to look dynamic and unique and interesting.”

For Calvert, that includes venturing into genres she has not previously explored.

“I’m kind of known for movies about two people sitting on the floor crying, so doing something more plot-based will be really fun!” she jokes.

Calvert is also excited about shooting different styles of sex scenes, especially after being so focused on delivering the intimate and romantic scenes Lust Cinema fans prefer.

“That’s what I’ve mostly shot the past few years,” Calvert notes. “Don’t get me wrong, I love filming that kind of sex, it’s beautiful to me. But my fans know that my background as a performer is in super-hardcore sex, and I’m excited to get some of that into my movies this year.”

That background has also informed her approach as a director, enabling her to empathize with talent, understand their roles and help bring out their best.

“There’s no question in my mind that I am a better director because I started in this industry as a performer,” she says. “As a director, I understand the demands of being a performer. I understand what I’m asking of people. I know what works and what doesn’t work in a way that someone who has never done the job just can’t know. I think it’s something that my actors really appreciate.”

“And being a director has made me a better performer!” Calvert adds, noting that her time behind the camera has afforded her a strong understanding of what looks good and what does not.

“Most girls who’ve been around for a while know their good angles,” she says. “But combining that with an innate understanding of how to fuck for the camera, and what to do and not to do in a scene from a directing standpoint, feels almost like I’m cheating.”

During a Q&A session following the screening of “Primary 3” at X3 this past January, Calvert’s cast joked that “peak vibes” are a huge part of working with her. Calvert says she felt genuinely honored by that statement.

“As a director, from the very beginning, it’s been important to me to foster the kind of environment on set that I want as a performer,” Calvert says. “I want both my actors and my crew to have everything they need to succeed in the job I’m asking them to do. For me, it’s about creating an environment where people feel respected, comfortable and creative.”

Fostering that same environment when in the role of performer, she adds, means really showing up for scene partners, engaging in consent conversations, understanding and respecting boundaries and communicating her own.

“It’s about always bringing every aspect of your A-game, for them as well as yourself,” she explains.

As an acknowledged workaholic, Calvert also makes an effort to cut herself some slack as she juggles her many duties.

“The thing I’m working on the most is being gentle with myself when I want to do things that aren’t work, and reminding myself that I’ll be better at my jobs if I also take time to rest and do self-care,” she says.

Since Calvert’s true passion remains narrative-driven features, she is thrilled to see such projects making a comeback.

“Most of the studios seem to want bigger and better features, and I’m here for it,” she says. “A lot more performers are moving behind the camera at a studio level. Seth Gamble, Michael Vegas and Siouxsie Q, just to name a few, are people I’ve grown up with in the industry and it makes me so happy to see them succeed and create really incredible art.

“From an indie perspective, I think a lot of that content is moving away from ‘cellphone on a tripod’ to something that looks more cinematic,” Calvert adds. “Cam Damage, as an example, has been making beautiful content for years, but I’m now seeing a lot of mainstream performers put more work into aesthetics and innovation.”

When asked what her single biggest ambition is for the coming year, given her multifaceted skillset and dynamic approach, Calvert kept it succinct.

“My biggest goal for 2024 is to keep making cool shit. Drops mic!”

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