LOS ANGELES — Paul Woodcrest told XBIZ he has grown up in the porn business.
The 27-year-old native of Southern California, who will celebrate his 10-year anniversary this June, took an interest in lighting and photography way before he stepped onto a movie set.
“Even when I was a little kid I remember I always enjoyed taking pictures,” said Woodcrest, who was born and raised in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., about 70 miles east of the San Fernando Valley. “I had no idea I would end up in the adult industry.”
Now as he reflects on his career behind the camera he said there have been so many shoots that he’s lost count.
“There was a time in 2008, which was the biggest year before we had that big industry dip, when I was working almost seven days a week shooting two to three scenes a day,” Woodcrest recalled. “I’ve been shooting four or five days a week since, two scenes every day, plus been on a million features.”
Without question, Woodcrest paid his dues. After years juggling assignments as a freelance production assistant and production manager, he now has established himself as one of the go-to directors at one of adult entertainment’s busiest studios, New Sensations/Digital Sin. When Woodcrest isn’t calling the shots for gonzo or all-sex movies himself, he’s usually doing videography and lighting for his director colleagues Eddie Powell and Jacky St. James on one of their latest features.
“New Sensations has always been my bread and butter even when I was freelance,” Woodcrest said. “I started with them and now I’ve been full time for about a year. I’ve also shot with Wicked and a little bit with Elegant Angel, DreamZone and Exquisite.”
As humble as he is versatile, Woodcrest revealed he got his start as a production assistant when a mutual friend introduced him to Brother Love, an industry vet who used to be a regular director at New Sensations.
The then 18-year-old Woodcrest had been taking various college photography courses when a buddy on his paintball team shared his hook-up. Not thinking it would turn into anything long-term, Woodcrest helped Brother Love do “the grunt work” for a couple years. He learned how to navigate a set and “just stuck around.” Woodcrest went on to become the top production assistant on New Sensations owner Scott Taylor’s movies, working in that capacity five days a week.
One of his fondest memories of being on Taylor’s sets came when he volunteered to shoot the third scene of a grueling three-scene day to give Taylor a break. Woodcrest said that Taylor even held the C-light over his shoulder while he was running the camera that day.
“And I’ll never forget that. The boss of this huge company holding the C-light for me while I was shooting,” Woodcrest said.
That moment also summed up the company’s culture, he added.
“There are no egos over here at all,” Woodcrest said.
Indeed, Woodcrest is quick to praise others and deflect attention, especially when it comes to some of his most high-profile titles such as “Meet Carter,” a showcase for Carter Cruise that won the 2015 XBIZ Award for Best All-Sex Release on Jan. 15.
“It wasn’t me, it was all her. She’s an amazing performer,” Woodcrest said. “When she first got in the business we shot her in a one-off movie and everyone who was there that day said to each other, ‘Wow, she definitely has a lot of potential.’”
Woodcrest said that Cruise, the 2015 XBIZ Best New Starlet and Best Actress winner, set the tone in her first scene of the movie that carried through the entire shoot. “In every scene she tried to outdo herself, and that’s what made the movie great.”
Other titles such as “Meet Dakota,” “Daddy’s Little Doll,” “Interracial Family Affair,” “From Both Ends 2,” and “Watching My Hotwife” demonstrate Woodcrest’s consistency and range. He has amassed more than 100 credits as a director in recent years while shooting scores of other scenes for various titles as a co-director or videographer.
But Woodcrest pointed to the occasions when he teams up with XBIZ Award-winning directors Eddie Powell and Jacky St. James on features that the chemistry of the crew cannot be understated.
“I don’t think there’s a better team in the business right now as far as the way we work,” Woodcrest said. “I think it’s because we all do have our own specialty. Jacky works extremely well with the talent, helping them with their acting and making sure the lines are correct. And [Eddie] is another technical guy like me. People say we’re interchangeable the way we shoot. We’ve worked together for 10 years.
“I feel we get the best work done when we’re on a feature and I can concentrate on lighting or camerawork. I’m much more prone to doing technical work.”
Lighting is key to everything, Woodcrest noted, adding that it’s his favorite part of the filmmaking process.
“With lighting you have to be able to adapt and adjust on the fly,” he continued. “Unless you’re in the same room a million times, lighting changes throughout the day, throughout the seasons. You’ve got to be able to use natural light or accent what’s already there, whether it’s by helping out the window or helping out the practical lights. Or making something look not lit even when it is heavily lit.”
Woodcrest added, “That’s one thing that I really like about New Sensations. They really, really light well. Scott’s always been open to doing really cool lighting and letting me work outside the box.”
The director at press time said he was in the midst of shooting a new fetish-themed movie centered on “sensory deprivation” with scenes involving blindfolds, lack of hearing, loss of touch, ice, heat or vibration.
“We’ve only shot two of the four scenes so far. When we were talking about it, it was really just trying to take away a sense so that that other senses were heightened and try to capture that on camera,” Woodcrest explained.
So far Woodcrest shot Sara Luvv with James Deen and Dahlia Sky with Ramon Nomar.
“We’re trying to keep things different and fresh without changing up the formula too much,” Woodcrest said. “We kind of have a formula that seems to work, and definitely a look. We want to keep it moody, keep it pretty, keep it elegant and keep that New Sensations vibe going.
“What we’ve been doing lately has a lot of feel and a lot of mood to it, even if not a lot of dialogue.”
Woodcrest concluded that what he enjoys most about his career is “freedom.”
“Scott allows us to try things and he always wants us to push more of the technical aspects,” he said. “A lot of the companies are set in their ways. We’re always pushing and because of that a lot of happy accidents happen.
“I think I’m pretty ingrained in the business now. I don’t think I’m going away for a long time. People seem to be liking the stuff I’m doing. I was happy to settle down here for the past year because I did do a ton of freelance work.”