If you read my January column for UPROXX, you know I got the honor of speaking with Girlfriends Films Founder Dan O’Connell about episodic adult film content (among many other things). But because of space, I had to cut some of the interview.
Following is our conversation in full, for your reading pleasure!
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Dr. C: What’s the appeal of producing series content? What are the biggest challenges?
DO’C: Our early movies contained scenes that were unrelated to each other, which is often referred to the “vignette” style, at least here in the adult industry. For every movie I’d do, I had to come up with four new stories, each having its own characters. This is quite taxing on a writer’s imagination, especially when one has just a few minutes to move two characters from a non-sexual relationship – often having just met each other – into a sexual one. At least for me, watching the hot house wife go down on the pizza delivery man is too simplistic, improbable and casual to be erotic.
I quickly figured that having one set of characters performing a single story line thru my movies’ four scenes would make my life as a writer much easier. And it would more closely reflect life’s realities in that there is most often a significant passage of time between people meeting and the first time they share sex. In addition, sexual tension and excitement greatly increase reality and eroticism when we watch the one character romance and seduce the other before they have sex.
From there, I quickly realized that a series concept – the same as what has been so successful on television – would further lower the burden of creating new characters and story lines. It would also provide a showcase for our best performers, allow their characters to evolve, add further reality, and increase sales as people become interested in the unfolding stories. I believe Girlfriends Films was the first to bring episodic movies to the porn industry. We have a number of such movie series and will debut a new one titled Wet for Women in a few weeks.
Dr. C: The Imperfect Angels series deals with some pretty heavy subject matter. What compelled you to go this route?
DO’C: Our Imperfect Angels series wasn’t our first to delve into heavy subject matter, but it did introduce a new level of character depth and the evolvement of a dark story. I’ve always felt that the best sex is often prefaced with a shroud of darkness around it. Personally, I don’t want to see sex woven around a comedy. I want it against a background of really deep emotion…the kind that sometimes comes with personal hardships or taboo.
I had two great actresses – Magdalene St. Michaels and Faye Reagan – who I knew could support a great story. Maggie is the married step-mom of young Faye. Both are lesbian virgins and impressionable. After about five of the movies were put out, Faye started to exit the industry. So, we had to kill her off. That provided some pretty dark moments. In any case, those two women gave me more inspiration and creativity than if I’d tried working with lesser talent.
Dr. C: Cheer Squad Sleepovers relies on a pretty conventional fantasy, one that could easily become gimmicky. How do you keep it fresh?
DO’C: We have a movie series – one which is more of a vignette style – with the title of Cheer Squad Sleepovers. It’s “Sleepovers” because we don’t have the budget or production time to show locker rooms or a background of gyms and stadiums, as one might expect from a series about cheer leaders.
There is a national obsession with cheerleaders in this country and it seems that everyone has a strong opinion about them. If you love cheerleaders, you want to hear all the salacious details. If you hate cheerleaders, you want to hear all the salacious details. Cheerleaders are sexy, pretty, peppy, passionate and, course, often prone to bad decisions. And that sells movies. Goooooooo GIRLFRIENDS!
But the story lines and dialogue associated with such themes are often goofy and gimmicky. They plague our industry and are a major reason why so many people ridicule porn. And I always keep in mind that if our last ten movies look like the ten before that, consumers will no longer buy them. So, we have to continually introduce new talent and story ideas. With Girlfriends Films on the cusp of producing its 500th movie, that can be a challenge.
I blew thru my personal fantasies in our first ten movies. So keeping things fresh and creative has been an uphill battle over the past 490 movies. While the bin of new ideas becomes increasingly smaller with each new movie, I realized a few years ago that creativity – at least for me – is a lot like working out and building muscle with weights. Being creative builds more creativity, thereby compensating for the diminishing inventory of new ideas. Also, my creativity in regard to character and story line is often commensurate with my personal fondness for the performer playing a the role I’m working on. For example, I love Heather Starlet. When I’m developing a character and story around her, it becomes relatively easy. And – although I always think that I’m doing it wrong – I often put the cart before the horse, selecting the performers and then writing the story around them.
Porn watchers have become jaded, developing a need for something that is more sexually stimulating than what got them off in the past. Some years ago I developed a movie series titled Twisted Passions that had stories more edgy than what we’d been producing. That was successful and I enjoyed producing such fare, so I got more edgy with everything we do at Girlfriends Films.
Our movies are sex-positive and show respect for the characters. At Girlfriends Films, we never show smoking, violence or sexual acts like baseball bats in vaginas. So, evolving our movies into the edgier realm must be done thru story line rather than weird sex. We were among the first companies to venture into the taboo, which often means themes such as older/younger pairings and step relatives. We don’t do match characters with the same bloodline, but having two step-sisters go at it will make for a lot of happy viewers. And I will say that I do prefer writing and producing these types of situations.
Dan O’Connell (R) and others from Girlfriends Films. Image via AVN.
Reprinted from UPROXX/FilmDrunk (1/13/15)
And ICYMI, you can read all my work featured on UPROXX/FilmDrunk com right –> here
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