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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Research, O What Strange Paths Thou Shall Lead Me Down

Any writer worth their salt spends a good deal of time doing research on the topics their story is exploring. Of course, this is only my opinion as I'm sure there are the rare types of writers that just hop right into their story and what comes out is gold. I'm not that type of writer. The world is full of critics who are just dying to make you look stupid in the goal of making themselves look smart, although they themselves have never and will never create anything in their lives. They feel better about their sorry lives by trying to make the artist feel bad. Critics and their useless diatribe is a different topic for another day. My point being, if you've done your research, you are more entitled to defending the way you have presented your story.

My current film is dealing with a fictional character who was a very sought after male porn star at one time in the 1970s and 1980s, during the so-called "Golden Age of Porn." This is the father of three sisters, a man who is much older now, but loved his job of being an entertainer in one of the most economically stable forms of mass entertainment there has ever been. As I have watched maybe three adult films in my entire adult life, I can't just jump into the world of pornography without trying to have some understanding of it. So, let's just say my research for this film has been quite interesting up to now. I watched Debbie Does Dallas quite recently, and had a few good chuckles, along with some "crap that's nasty" eye shielding moments, and was humming the music to the film the next day. I did not expect that part. I understood more about how people around this time period took care of their bodies, and what was considered sexy. Body hair was apparently quite popular when Debbie Does Dallas was being made, as were visible bikini tan lines on what I would consider a "normal" female body (no amplification/reduction of parts.) In contrast to what porn stars look like today, it's a night and day contrast.

It's extremely difficult to do internet research on pornography without being bombarded by sites assuming I'm a horny male and trying to get me to use my credit card. I often wonder how professors whose careers are about pornography studies (yes, it does exist) deal with this. One has to be very careful about what they are typing in the Google search text box. I am also having a difficult time trying to locate more confessional biographies about what it's like to work in the adult film industry. The people that work here are still people, and have lives outside of their work. I'd love to know more about what drew them into adult films, why they continue to do it (beyond the money, at least for the women), the pluses and minuses, how they've dealt with raising families, or their parents' and friends' perceptions of them. Most people on the internet, I've noticed, go one way or the other when talking about how they perceive porn stars: either find it extremely shameful and chastise the adult film star or they glorify it in the sense of something like this (albeit with typos): "Yeah, man. I'd totally date a porn star. That sh*it is hot."

I'm following a male porn star on Instagram, (and the only reason I am on Instagram, my iPhone already consumes too much of my attention on a daily basis) and am delighted by his photos of himself with his two young children, doing normal dad-kid activities like going to a park and eating ice cream. This is the stuff that I also must understand when crafting my script about three sisters and their porn-star father. My fictional characters had moments like this real life porn actor. But as sex is such a huge and tricky topic for American culture, especially when it comes to art trying to make a statement or show it, something simple like a man and his three daughters becomes highly complicated when the man is an ex-porn star. There is just so much conflict suddenly. It's my job as a director to try to understand all sides of this life, and avoid stereotypes as much as possible. This is a tricky task, as my research has already shown me that getting a honest straight forward picture of this world is not easy.

Up next on my film queue: Deep Throat.

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