The Fisher King

This column has featured all kinds of directors in the last couple of years, from the first rank of feature makers like Michael Ninn to the youngest of the Young Turks like Van Styles blazing new trails through the adult market with gonzo and alt-porn inventiveness. But if you're looking for a single porn director who embodies the sense of adventure, the innate optimism and the rambunctious joy of living that lies at the heart of the best adult entertainment, you couldn't pick one better than Bill Fisher.

To legions of Vivid Entertainment and Club Jenna fans, he's Cezar Capone, his alter ego.

"Bill Fisher is who I am," said the 40- year-old multi-tasker, "but Cezar Capone is who we all want to be."

Fisher had already made quite a name as a five-figure-per-day fashion photographer, shooting catalogs and ad campaigns for Dolce & Gabbana and others around Miami and the Caribbean. When he crossed paths with Jenna Jameson on a Dennis Rodman shoot for E! Entertainment, it led to doing "a whole show around her." It was a great success, and Fisher said he figured "there must be something to this adult stuff."

With 40-plus titles in his Filthy Films gonzo line, the continuing success of Club Jenna, a new amateur line with Red Light District and a series, "Sex Life," in development with Playboy TV, Fisher now knows that there's a whole lot to this "adult stuff." His MySpace page is a clearer statement of Fisher's beliefs and principles than any 2008 presidential candidates’, and is a first-rate rendition of the basic libertarian "live and let live" philosophy. Of course, Fisher couldn't care less if you agreed; it's not about convincing other people of anything, it's all about putting them on notice as to where his boundaries are (or aren't).

Remember the Revolutionary War flag with the coiled snake and the words, "Don't tread on me"? That's Fisher's flag right there.

XBIZ spoke with the director in November.

XBIZ: When you trace the route that brought you into adult entertainment, how far back does it go?

BILL FISHER: I've been a photographer my whole life. When I was a kid, my father was a good friend of Helmut Newton. I wanted to go to the Jersey Shore one summer when I was 15 or 16 and my Dad said, "No way, you're gonna spend the summer in N.Y. helping Helmut." So while my friends were partying with hot chicks, I was picking up trash after some photographer friend of my dad's. Of course, he just happened to be one of the most influential nude photographers in the world. Cut to 16 years later and I was shooting catalogs and ad campaigns and getting involved with video production. When I met Jenna Jameson I put some money together and our show was a huge success.

XBIZ: What happened next? I understand you got busy very quickly, right?

FISHER: Well, I put the word out that I was interested in producing some adult stuff and I would be available to shoot in Miami. The guys at Bang Bros immediately locked me into a 20-month exclusive contract. They needed a lot of help getting their imaging and tech act together. Later that year, Jenna and her then-husband Jay Grdina convinced me to do a DVD movie, so I did "Chatte Magnifique" in my own style based on my artistic inspirations — Helmut, Andrew Blake, Michael Ninn, Philip Mond — and I thought it was what an adult movie should be. Then I told Jay that we should do some "gonzo reality" to appeal to the clients that the high-end features were missing, so we started the Filthy Films line with my Bang Bros alter ego, Cezar Capone. The series was a huge hit and now we are doing a Playboy TV reality series, "Sex Life." It's in the works as we speak. I can't give you many details because it's not completely cast yet, but it's going to be groundbreaking, I assure you.

XBIZ: You are a film and video guy, and a serious tech-head, so tell us about your gear.

FISHER: I use primarily Panasonic cameras, DVX-100 when shooting standard definition and the HVX-200 when shooting high definition. I also utilize my film cameras — my Aaton A-minima, Arri BL4, even an 8mm Pro-8 — to shoot certain cutaways and different effects for my features. I don't use the film equipment on the gonzo stuff, as the budgets don't support it. For stills I love my Mamiya RZ-67 and my Canon Mark II. Sometimes I do some shots on a Canon Rebel for quick stuff. But I was taught at an early age that it's not the camera, it's the person working the shutter that makes a good shot.

XBIZ: What is your directing style: "Hollywood" (with a cameraman) or "Valley" (you're both director and cameraman)?

FISHER: I do both, actually. I prefer to have the camera in my hand but the complexity of feature shots sometimes doesn't afford me that luxury. For the gonzo stuff it's definitely "Valley" style, and for features it's a mix.

XBIZ: Do you have a "Fisher look," a certain kind of lighting or set design?

FISHER: I like hard HMI scratch (back light) with Kino keys and fill. I want lots of contrast — with even, bright lights on the action — so everyone can see what's going on.

XBIZ: How many names are you directing under now? Are you exclusively Cezar Capone with Vivid?

FISHER: The Cezar Capone name is exclusive to Vivid and Club Jenna, but I also produce and sell movies that belong to me personally under both names. Vivid/Club Jenna distributes most of my Cezar Capone and Bill Fisher lines, but I also have a deal currently with Juicy Video to distribute my "Cezar Capone Presents" line, which are different movies than the Filthy Films line. I also started a company with David Joseph from Red Light District where we make "True Amateur" movies from videos sent in from customers. This line is Amateur District and has proven to be a huge hit.

XBIZ: Why are you doing what you do? What drives you?

FISHER: Simple. The beauty of women drives me. I love going to work to get girls naked.

XBIZ: What's your take on the "VOD will kill DVD" story?

FISHER: I'm not sure that's correct. Sure, DVD is losing market share but it's not just to Internet VOD. Digital cable and satellite are enormous pay-per-view markets. But there will never be a day where you don't put something in a machine in your living room to watch it. Whether it's a flash card or a mini hard drive of some sort, I don't know, but there will always be a demand for that, too.

XBIZ: The economics of this new "arrangement" haven't been worked out quite yet, have they?

FISHER: With Internet VOD the only people who are making money are the VOD distributors or websites. If people watch my movie 24,000 times and I get a check for $430 bucks, there is a problem with that calculation. The pay scale is waaaaaaaaay off. The VOD companies need to pay out a much higher percentage to the studios or the studios will just create their own VOD websites for distribution. Then it's just a matter of traffic. The big guys will thrive and, unless they have something groundbreaking, the little guys will continue to make little or no money.

XBIZ: What are your new releases? And what are you working on next?

FISHER: "Behind the Lens with Jenna Jameson," the Amateur District "True Amateur" series and the site are all things that are happening right now. For the series, we are looking for people to send us their tapes, and we pay up to $20 per minute. And Filthy Films is rocking hard. Seems there are a lot of dirty boys looking for filthy girls — and I'm happy to oblige.

XBIZ: What are your goals for your career, your company, your legacy?

FISHER: I want to take adult more into the mainstream. I want to present women in the best and most beautiful way to men who enjoy it. Women are so very special, so special that it is beyond description. I want to be known as the man who brings out the best in every woman he shoots, who somehow shows you more than you can see on your own.

XBIZ: And what about our responsibilities to one another, to our chosen profession?

FISHER: I think the most important thing for our industry is protecting our rights as artists. I pray for more men like Larry Flynt and the countless attorneys who provide their services free of charge to help the cause. They are real heroes. I firmly believe that child pornographers and pedophiles should be hunted and prosecuted to the fullest extent, but the government keeps confusing normal adults with sick perverts. We are adults who enjoy nudity and pornography. We are not perverts.