When I started this, there were a lot of things I knew, or thought I knew, and a lot of things I didn’t know.
I knew I was going to be up against it handing off a fifteen-page script to people who aren’t trained actors. I knew that would be compounded by trying to shoot said scripts in a single day and in a single location, for an amount of money that would make even the most hardened indie filmmaker sweat. I knew that putting together a film crew would be tricky, considering the subject matter, and the fact that it has been a long time since I have stopped maintaining the network of young, open-minded creatives I once associated with. I knew it was going to be tricky, legally, as the grey area that the porn industry (and the entire sex industry) operates in within Australia keeps getting narrower and closer to black.
I figured it was going to be tricky, or at least expensive, to get a specialist entertainment lawyer to draft, or review, my likeness rights contracts and give me an honest assessment as to my legal rights and risks. I knew that the traditionally shadowy industry of porn might be totally impossible to break into, as other producers, both domestic and international, sought to protect their market share and their talent pool. I knew that the golden heyday of online porn as a license to print money was long dead. I knew that free streaming sites and torrent sites were the first stops for consumers looking to find even the most niche pornography. I knew that people only paid for porn that they couldn’t find on those sites, that it had to be of a quality, or content, or style that could appeal to a world that can get the latest tentpole superhero film for free two weeks before it comes out. I knew that, even without the added challenge of being a rookie producer, I had an extremely uphill battle ahead of me.
What I didn’t know, as it turns out, was that the terms of service of nearly every film industry freelancer website in the country flat out precludes companies in the adult industry from using their services. I didn’t know a large-scale selection of new laws passed in the US were going to aggressively excise the sex industry from its traditional online spaces and send it even deeper underground all across the Western world. I couldn’t have possibly foreseen that right at the time I was looking to court actresses and actors, they would be being “shadow-banned” from Twitter and having their client networks closed off to them; that, rightfully so, their feelings of trust and safety would be at an all-time low as they were backed into a corner by zealous legislators and law enforcement across the globe. I didn’t know that Craigslist would purge its personals section completely, in response to the almost certain future misuse of the just passed FOSTA, and that Backpage.com and Cracker.com would be seized by the FBI, shuttering them globally.
I also didn’t know that porn producers already established in the field, who make content both locally and for large international distributors, would be extremely generous with their time, knowledge and resources to ensure that this greenhorn producer is on the right track. I didn’t know that the producers already working placed such a great value on ensuring that the “ethical porn” industry in Australia. I didn’t know that when I put out my feelers into the broad network of Australian sex workers on social media, that almost immediately my DMs would be lit up with messages of interest, support and excitement. I didn’t know that the avenues for distribution and release were so vast and so global, because I had blinkered myself somewhat by only think about English speaking countries and markets. I didn’t know that the porn industry had moved from talent agents (almost entirely non-existent in Australia) to a social media network where it has become kosher to contact a potential actor or actress directly.
I didn’t know that I could go to Netflix and watch multiple documentaries and series about the modern state of porn and the history of the industry. I didn’t know that women like Michelle Flynn, Madison Young and Erika Lust have written thousands of words and given talks and shared their thoughts and their expertise and their passion on why porn and the porn industry can and should be better.
I knew that this was what I wanted to do. I knew that, for as long as I could remember, I wanted to write and direct thoughtful, contemporary films. I knew, from the moment a friend of mine jokingly suggested it after I finished my film school education, that I should make porn. I knew that there was a place for thoughtful, well lit, beautifully shot and cleanly edited porn. I knew I had to make it; and now I knew that I could.