February 14, 2005 05:00am
How to Make Adult Films - From the Trenches
Source: Courtesy of Dave Cummings
by: Dave Cummings
I teach "How to Make Adult Films" in Los Angeles and San Diego for the Learning Annex, a fine educational organization that provides a variety of classes for adults in eight American and six Canadian cities. Students of the three-hour class span a wide age spectrum, and most are usually guys hoping to invest some money and make a Lot of profits while also getting laid and becoming famous. Rather than report sexual escapades since my last monthly column, let me instead tell you about a typical class.
To give you an idea of content presented, here is a copy/paste of the class description off of the LearningAnnex.com site:
San Diego Classes: Course 421GSD Section N Whether you want to make an adult video for profit or make sensual films for your private pleasure, come learn the ropes first-hand from Dave Cummings.
Learn about: * Selecting a theme, genre, objective, video length and content * Camera and lighting scenarios * Budgets, permits and locations * Production ins and outs * Casting and legal requirements * Editing * Packaging *Advertising * Marketing * Male performance aspects * Problem solving * What happens on adult sets. Materials fee $12.
Note: X-rated materials will be used in class. You must be 18 years of age or older to enroll in this course.
Dave Cummings, winner of the X-Rated Film Critics 2001 "Unsung Swordsman of the Year" award, is known worldwide among adult film consumers and insiders. A retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel, he is a Bronze Star Medal recipient from his duty in the Vietnam war.
Course 421GSD, Section N Thursday, March 31, 2005 from 06:30 Pm to 09:30 Pm Location: Hotel Circle Note: X-rated materials will be used in class. You must be 18 years of age or older to enroll in this course.Materials fee is $12.00
Us $ 59.99 / $ 54.99 VIP members
In order to get my classroom effectively set up and organized, I try to arrive at least an hour before class start time. Usually the Learning Annex provides upscale hotel meeting rooms, but sometimes we meet at places like the Hollywood Film School. Invariably, three or four of the usual 10-50 students also arrive an hour or so early and barrage me with questions about the Adult Industry, and their own specific ideas for what they want to do with the thousands of dollars they recently inherited from their long-lost uncle or grandmother.
Students get an extensive handout packet, an outline with space for them to insert notes, a Dave Cummings Production VHS or DVD, and examples of marketing and promotional materials. Because the class has so much to cover, I ask students to jot down and hold their questions so that they can ask them during the question & answer period if I don't automatically cover them in the presentation of the class---usually, because I present so much pertinent material, the students smile at the end and compliment me about having already answered their questions. It's a dynamic and extensive class, and I feel it is well worth the registration fee. For questions specific to individual attendees, I stay after class until each and every question has been answered, no matter how long it takes.
Some of the many things I cover are as follows. I brief students that the big porn profits and sales figures they see in the media are not actually indicative of what they can easily make in the present day supply-demand environment; I suggest that they might be a few years too late in beginning their filming career, given the glut of footage of the last few years from people just like themselves who have had a head start on them, and how many now are stuck with costly footage and no meaningful distribution means to recover their outlays of capital; and I opine that if they still want to pursue porn-making, I'll certainly give them a lot of useful info during the class. I go over basic definitions (they all seem interested to hear about fluffers, and they look disappointed when I tell them that fluffers are seldom used except for the large gangbangs); I define what encompasses a "scene", a "creampie", and an amateur/gonzo/wall-to-wall/feature/etc video and the elements thereof; genre's and the type of sex they might want to specialize in (e.g., general boy/girl, new young fresh faces, interracial, transgender, gay, fetish/BDSM, gangbangs, etc.); and, an examination of the number of scenes usually needed in different types of videos, length of scenes and the overall videos, types of filming such as cable versions versus hard core, etc. I discuss general actress/actress talent fees and other budgeting costs, crew composition, lighting and audio considerations, box cover photos and design/printing costs, dialogue matters, types and Adult Industry popularity of video cameras, supplies, catering, location costs and considerations, money shot matters, make-up, permit and legal requirements like the government's age verification and documentation requirements, monthly HIV/STD DNA testing matters, outdoors versus indoor shooting, where to find and how to book talent, Distribution and sales options, "wood" and/or money shot problems, management challenges for handling talent, considerations for open versus closed sets and whether or not to allow the husband or boyfriend of actresses to be on set (will it hold down her enthusiasm/attitude/etc, or will he be helpful and not under foot or disruptive?), impact of the Internet, DVDs versus VHS, shooting/production values, production "In's and out's", insider "secrets" and personal hygiene matters, "quiet on the set" discipline, sequence/techniques of shooting, packaging to enhance sales, editing matters, duplicating, DVD authorizing, advertising and marketing, income and revenue potential and sources, and a whole bunch of other aspects.
Unfortunately, in my quest to be informative/truthful/helpful, I also have to expose some myths to students, e.g., visitors to sets and the crew don't normally get sex just because there are adult actresses around, no more than seeing a porn actress shopping in the first aisle at the supermarket means a guy can easily sweet-talk or BS the young lady into a blow job in the parking lot; likewise, "auditioning" girls before booking them is a scumbag thing, not reality! Although people like different things, I urge class members not to automatically think it's always appropriate for them to edit-in loud or distracting music; instead, I suggest that many viewers might want to hear the actress's "Non-porn acting" natural pantings, breathing, sighing, moans (real ones, not fake ones!), whisperings, and the other sounds one normally hears during sex or love-making (yes, including slurping and squishing sounds during fellatio and intercourse). I also strongly urge students to realize that just because they personally prefer close-up shots (versus a wide-angle or a variety of camera recordings), short set-ups that visually-attuned guys often like (versus the seductive dialogue/flirting/touching/feeling/etc that females might prefer), or blondes, or tall girls, or sexy clothing and a slow/fast undressing of the actress, or reverse cowgirl or missionary position (versus a variety of camera-friendly sex positions), or natural breasts versus enhanced boobs, or a whole host of other preferences, it doesn't necessarily mean that everybody likes what they personally and specifically prefer, at least not enough to make their movies releases as profitable as possible! We seem to be a species of different sexual excitement triggers, and porn producers have to be cognizant that their way isn't the Only way! Lastly, I discuss how thousands of porn releases fall into the $10,000-30,000 range to produce, not the multi-millions that are spent on the 300-400 mainstream films each year, and that we need to always be realistic and remember that we're shooting porn, not "Gone with the Wind"! In this regard, I suggest that presenting sexual sights and situations that contribute to the viewer's quest to be turned on is indeed very important, in others words "whackability"!!!
The above doesn't cover everything I include in the class, but it gives you an idea. I thought and hope that non-Industry readers might find this of some interest.
Hang in there---nicer weather is just around the corner!