LOS ANGELES — Paul Deeb told XBIZ that he may be new to the world of adult filmmaking, but artistic endeavors are far from foreign to him.
“My recent history has been all in the visual arts as it pertains to large, installed pieces, corporate pieces and public art pieces,” Deeb said. “The last piece I did was a 6,000-square-foot ceiling sculpture in Phoenix.”
Now he’s undertaking a different kind of project as the director of “Marriage 2.0,” the working title for the first movie from LionReach, a new studio helmed by Magnus Sullivan and Ilan, the co-owners of Gamelink.com.
Deeb this week in San Francisco is continuing the principal photography on “Marriage 2.0,” which stars XBIZ Award-winning performers India Summer and Ryan Driller.
Sullivan and Ilan created LionReach to produce original features in a collaboration with Adam & Eve, which last week teamed with Gamelink to launch AdamandEveTV.com. The new membership site offers the best content from Adam & Eve Pictures’ library and soon will feature LionReach productions.
Deeb, an accomplished artist and musician with more than 25 years experience in the visual arts, produced and directed a few erotic short films during the past two years but had been considering leaving the realm altogether when Sullivan approached him.
“[Magnus] saw a film of mine in a festival and contacted me and we sat down and had a talk,” said Deeb, a native of Baltimore who now is based in the Bay Area. “A few days later he sent me the initial version of the ‘Marriage 2.0’ script and we started working on it collaboratively. It’s been an interesting genesis.”
It was Deeb’s award-winning short “Trains” — starring Lily Cade and Dylan Ryan — that caught Sullivan’s attention. “Trains” made use of multiple film aspects, monochrome and color footage, while also combining documentary and erotic video styles. It won the 2014 Feminist Porn Award for Sexiest Short, 2014 Cinekink Award for Best Experimental Short (in a tie with “Dear Jiz”) and the 2014 East Bay Briefs Audience Award.
Deeb also produced and directed “Mistress” and “The Accidental Bear,” both of which were showcased at the 2014 Seattle Erotic Art Festival in May.
“The films that I’ve been making are very graphic,” he said. “There is nothing that they shy away from. But I don’t use five minutes of footage when five frames is appropriate.”
Deeb continued, “From the very first meeting with [Magnus], I could tell he really wanted to do something that was genuinely different with a profoundly positive message.
“So many of the more artful attempts at making movies in the adult realm center on a broken personality that is enduring some sort of torment psychologically. They are fundamentally dark stories. He wanted to present a message and tell a story concerning modern relationships and modern sexuality that was profoundly reassuring and positive. I responded to that.”
Both Deeb and Sullivan say that LionReach is striving to not only film compelling visuals, but also convey a feeling.
“The thing is there’s so much concentration in terms of the way an adult film is made on what the sex looks like and very little attempt at trying to convey what any of it feels like,” Deeb reasoned.
The competition, they believe, is mainstream TV and not other porn studios.
“There is a renaissance going on with television now with series like ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Mad Men,’ and HBO’s ‘Girls’ and ‘Game of Thrones.’ This is the competition,” according to Deeb. “The average viewer out there now has a very sophisticated sensibility for storytelling. And for adult entertainment to compete and thrive, the quality really has to be stepped up.”
With that in mind, Deeb said one of the goals for “Marriage 2.0” was “to integrate the sexual action into the narrative in such a way that the sex scenes are supportive of the narrative and are important to it.”
He is working closely with seasoned adult videographer Alex Ladd, who is the director of photography for “Marriage 2.0.”
“Alex has a genuine eye for composition and a mind for photography and making images that are beautiful, thought-provoking and tell a story,” Deeb said.
“After talking to him for five minutes, I knew that I was talking to someone who had an eye for aesthetics. We formed a bond within just a few minutes of talking to each other.
For a lot of the footage, Deeb said he operated the second camera under Ladd.
“I’m going to edit the piece and score it as well,” said Deeb, a classically trained musician who plays piano, clarinet, saxophone and guitar. He’s also starting to teach himself the violin.
Deeb said that he already had completed one full week of production prior to what they planned to film Thursday and today in San Francisco. There will be one final day of shooting on June 25, he noted at post time.
The cast of “Marriage 2.0” not only features India Summer and Ryan Driller but also Nina Hartley in a supporting role as Summer’s mother. Dylan Ryan, Andre Shakti, Beretta James and Jack Hammer, among others, also appear. In addition, Deeb revealed that several non-adult performers have cameos, including sex expert Emily Morse and author Chris Ryan.
“Ryan Driller and India Summer were both really wonderful to work with,” Deeb said.
“Marriage 2.0” is slated for release this fall.