LOS ANGELES — A beaming Steve Orenstein presided over a private screening of Wicked Pictures' new sci-fi feature "Horizon" Wednesday night at the Landmark in West L.A.
The lounge of the upscale multiplex was filled with porn stars, press and well-wishers eager to see the highly anticipated sex adventure that releases Sept. 30.
Lead actors Jessica Drake, Kaylani Lei, Kimberly Kane and Misty Stone took center stage, along with male co-stars Rocco Reed and Bill Bailey.
“This was a new experience for us,” said Orenstein, the Wicked Pictures president. “We had to deal with things we don’t normally deal with” (extensive CGI work, for one).
He’s optimistic about its market success, counting on a crossover audience of sci-fi fans. The main selling point may be its technical achievements; it’s the first adult film to be shot on the latest Red Epic digital camera, the most advanced of its kind. Orenstein said that of new Hollywood releases, only Steven Soderbergh’s "Contagion," shot with the same system, has similar 2K resolution (way above Blu-ray).
That makes it a first for adult. And — it’s not a parody. The story and script spring wholly from the brain of writer-director Sam Hain.
Hain, just 26, has been one of the most talked-about, up-and-coming adult directors, thanks to two volumes of the award-winning "Sex Files: A Dark XXX Parody" and "Star Trek The Next Generation: A XXX Parody" for Revolution X/Digital Sin. Lee Roy Myers, the movie’s producer, has been another breath of fresh air with his sitcom parodies for various companies.
On Wednesday Myers was talking just the way a producer should, calling "Horizon" “the biggest adult movie of all time. Big in terms of scope, in terms of quality.”
Hain, long-haired and super casual in jeans and flip-flops, actually is industry-born and raised — the porn equivalent of a red-diaper baby. “My family owns one of the largest adult bookstore chains,” he said. “That’s how I got involved in the business. I’ve known [New Sensations’ president] Scott Taylor and Steve Orenstein most of my life.”
Horizon’s budget, he said, was around $200,000. “We crammed everything into six shooting days — it would have cost twice that much if we hadn’t.” They shot on soundstage sets with one day’s location in Death Valley. After shooting wrapped in May, there were four months of post-production work, including six weeks at a SFX facility in Calabasas, Calif.
They were lucky to get an Epic Red camera, since many of them — 50 in all — had been deployed to New Zealand for "The Hobbit." He was also thankful for the Zeiss Master Prime lenses, which have “extremely low light capabilities” (crucial to certain "Horizon" scenes), “something that hasn’t been seen in adult.”
He’s not shy about his ambitions for "Horizon:"
“It will definitely have mainstream potential.” He and Myers want no less than to “bridge the gap between adult and mainstream.”
Hain’s work has been distinguished by award-worthy acting. In "Horizon," working with some of his favorite actors (Kimberly Kane, Rocco Reed, Xander Corvus) and for the first time with Wicked’s contract girls, he said he got “the best acting in any of my films. There’s nothing wrong with any of the acting — this is the first film I can say that about.”
Jessica Drake, looking ultra-glamorous in a black sheath dress, called Hain “an absolute visionary. A narrative director — he doesn’t get that involved in the sex scenes. He’s great on character development and emoting, and he gives really good feedback.”
She herself has been having “an amazing year.” Besides starting her own sex-ed series, "Jessica Drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex," she has another big feature, Brad Armstrong’s "Countdown," awaiting release. She’s also doing a weekly Internet podcast with comedian Rick Bailey called "STFU" [Shut the Fuck Up] (STFUShow.com). In January, Drake will co-host the 10th anniversary XBIZ Awards in Hollywood with Kayden Kross.
And in "Horizon," playing the captain of a doomed spaceship, she gives what may be a career-best performance.
At the post-screening Q&A it was Wicked director Armstrong who gave the first shout-out to director Hain, loudly praising the quality of the film as it appeared, in 2K resolution, on the big Landmark screen. “That looked like a real movie!” The applause from the rest of the audience seemed to indicate they all felt the same way.
Pictured from left: Kimberly Kane, Alektra Blue, Jessica Drake, Misty Stone and Kaylani Lei. Photo courtesy of PacificProDigital.com/EMMReport.com.