by L. Pete Morton
Director Robby D. (image courtesy of Digital Playground)
Those who pay attention to such things will have noticed that this column, irregular as it already was, has taken some time off. Though I rarely pay attention to it, I was made aware that some other EFC contributors questioned the inclusion of content about adult films on a website featuring legitimate film criticism (as an aside, the very title of this column is meant to evoke the consternation, confusion, and moral outrage some might feel about adult content in general and in intellectual, upright society in particular). I legitimately considered such an idea while my multiple other life pursuits piled up. That said, it is my belief that thoughtful, reasoned analysis and feature writing concerning the adult film industry absolutely has a place within the wider consideration of film. I feel the adult industry is closer to “mainstream” knowledge and acceptance than ever before. And, for an individual interested in cinema to simply dismiss a film because it has sexual content is an unwise proposition in and of itself. Yes, there is a lot of porn produced, and I would go so far as to say most of it is insubstantial. That said, there is porn that is well-made, interesting, dramatically viable, and legitimately funny, with scripts that are more voluminous than the thickness of a cocktail napkin.
Anyway, those who don’t care for this column, your concern is noted, but as with actual porn, if you don’t care for it, feel free to ignore.
OK, if my working thesis is that there is a craft to adult film, it only makes sense that I speak to a craftsman about adult film. The always-helpful folks at Digital Playground were kind enough to put me in contact with Robby D, the director of the lion’s share of that studio’s content. Personally, I appreciate that most of Robby D’s work has an easy sense of humor about it, and that he can showcase wild & crazy just as easily as soft & delicate depending upon the needs of a scene.
This interview took place before the 2011 AVN awards which, besides being an apparent playground for Charlie Sheen, also recognizes achievement in filmmaking for the adult industry. Robby D. directed some of the award-winning movies, such as BODY HEAT’s “Best All-Girl Sex Scene” and JACK’S POV 15’s “Best POV Release” to add to many other awards he’s already received for his work.
But enough intro, let’s let the man speak for himself.
Q: Do you have any formal film education?
Q: How did you find yourself involved in the adult industry? Was it a goal or just where you found yourself?
A: I just found myself here - I saw it as challenge because being an avid porn watcher - I thought what was out there was very mundane and repetitive. I thought it could be done better. So I set out to prove a point and started making porn for myself. This eventually led to me making porn for the masses.
Q: Do you see yourself moving into so-called “mainstream” film or television?
A: Yes. I already do work in mainstream film. I feel that it's just another avenue of cinematography. The color of the cat doesn't matter - as long it kills mice.
Q: You produce easily the lion’s share of content released by Digital Playground. How do you keep the work you produce feeling fresh and inspired?
A: I don't really produce - I direct. But I keep the work fresh by listening to our fans and trying to give consumers what they are looking for. We are always keeping our eye out for new talent and technology and new ways to shoot.
Q: Most of the time you write and direct your movies, but you’re occasionally brought on to act as DP for another director’s feature. I think specifically of the big-budget PIRATES movies that DP is known for. Is it enjoyable for you to work only as the DP when you are used to directing?
A: I was the camera team director for the Pirates franchise and of course it was enjoyable. Shooting is my favorite part of the job.
Q: You move fairly seamlessly from features to “gonzo” porn. Do you have a preference between the two? What make a good feature vs. a good gonzo movie?
A: A good feature contains a strong script and plot whereas a good gonzo is more "down and dirty" and interactive for the viewer.
Q: Speaking of features, Digital Playground has clearly positioned your BODY HEAT as their big player for the various adult industry awards this year. What was the genesis of the movie? Were you simply going for HOT FIREFIGHTERS, in line with TEACHER, NURSES, FLY GIRLS, etc.? What prompted the more serious approach to the material? It certainly can’t hurt that you now have Kayden Kross in your gun locker, as she’s one of the better actresses in adult.
A: I was told to do a firefighter themed movie by Joone (ed: one of the owners of Digital Playground and a director, as well). I knew it had already been done before and I didn't want it to be cliche. So Body Heat has many intricate elements including several subplots to compliment the story line, drama, suspense, romance, tragedy and of course, smoking-hot sex scenes. I'm very, very pleased with the results.
Q: It’s obvious that most of your work has a sense of humor, and even though most of BODY HEAT is fairly straight as a drama, you do manage to work in some humor. Please give me your thoughts on making humor work in adult films. As most actors will tell you, humor is tough to pull off.
A: Dude seriously - it's porn - if you can't have fun with a porn movie then you where can you? Life is a funny experience and it comes naturally. It's harder to reach for drama than comedy.
Q: Clearly, BODY HEAT is one of your strongest movies. Any others you are particularly proud of?
A: Fly Girls, Teachers, Nurses...I'm proud of the entire vocational series. But I think Jack's Playground is the best thing ever.
Q: Admittedly, I prefer features to gonzo work, but at least most of your gonzo movies at least have scenes that are tied together thematically. Do you know which movie will feature which scene when shooting it most of the time? What makes the cut for “Jack’s Playground” vs. “Control” vs. “Bad Girls”?
A: Jack's Playground is humorous, Control is strictly to arouse your sexuality and Bad Girls is primarily to showcase our exclusive Digital Playground contract stars doing gonzo scenes.
Q: Obviously, part of your job is showcasing the DP contract girls in your work. How do you pick which performer you want for which part? And how do you cast other female performers around them?
A: Each girl brings her own characteristics to a role. I capitalize on their acting strengths for different characters. The way she portrays herself dictates what scripts they can handle. I also choose actresses based on their potential, popularity and consumer demand.
Q: I’d love to get your specific thoughts on some of the performers you work with on a regular basis. I’ll provide a name, and just give me your thoughts on them as performers.
A: Jesse Jane: Bubbly, charming and charismatic.
Katsuni: Seductive, intelligent and highly sexual
Kayden Kross: Stunning and dramatic.
Riley Steele: Adorably cute and irresistible.
Stoya: Formidable and delicate.
Raven Alexis: Diligent and smart.
Q: You utilize a lot of the same male talent in all your films as well. What are you looking for in a male performer, besides the obvious requirement to perform physically on camera?
A: I work with actors based on their ability to get along with me and the crew and for their chemistry with the DP contract stars.
Q: DP is a company that has been shooting in HD for several years now, and is actively re-releasing their back catalog in the Blu-Ray format. Do you prefer shooting in HD? What are the pluses and minuses for you?
A: For me personally, I don't have a preference. My emphasis isn't really on the technical advantages of HD. Format is not as important as the story and the execution for obvious reasons. What matters is the attractive female that is in front of the camera.
Q: Adult film is being hit just as hard as mainstream film, perhaps even harder, by online piracy. As someone invested creatively in the business, do you have a strategy for keeping adult film viable and something consumers actually want to purchase?
A: You have to gear your product towards the demographic of couples and consumers that are still willing to purchase a quality adult film product and prolong the existence of our industry. We firmly believe at Digital Playground that our porn is worth paying for.
Q: Thank you for your time, and let me leave you with three words: Kayden Kross: Scream. Three more words: More Stoya, please.
A:You'll be happy to know that Stoya is back and stars, along with our other exclusive Contract Stars, in the next big Digital Playground blockbuster "Top Guns" premiering March 2011.
Thanks to Robby D. for taking time from a breakneck schedule to thoughtfully answer some questions. Some of his recent movies besides the award-winning BODY HEAT are THE MASSEUSE and BAD GIRLS 5, and TOP GUNS will clearly be another adult film with mainstream appeal.
To the lovers and haters alike, I hope to be back soon, and, if plans come together, I hope to continue speaking with noteworthy people whose fingerprints appear on adult film in one capacity or another.
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=3150
originally posted: 01/24/11 20:15:50
last updated: 01/25/11 04:05:49