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Porn School: Where amateurs fear to tread - By - April 1, 2015 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Porn School: Where amateurs fear to tread

I've always preferred the role of director/creator. Even as a kid, I insisted on being choreographer and overall visionary of the pageants and plays we produced for our neighbors and parents. I'm convinced that my backyard rendition of The Lion King rivaled Julie Taymor's.

As an adult, not much has changed: I still like to be in charge. So this year, I've dipped my toes into behind-the-camera work, producing and directing the occasional Harry Potter- or Game of Thrones-themed fem-dom clip at GirlBullies.com.

But I started producing and directing in earnest this year with fellow performer Maxine Holloway and local director Aja of Ajapopfilms. Our porno-pop music video, Homance, recently garnered a 2015 Feminist Porn Awards nomination. But my behind-the-camera work is shaky — my co-producer at GirlBullies is always keen to point out the pair of dumbbells I insisted it was fine to leave in the shot of the first clip I directed. They look terrible, and totally distract from the shot, but we all have to learn somehow, right? It's easy to make a lot of mistakes along the way, as there has been no handbook for DIY erotic content — until now.

Writer and award-winning feminist porn director Madison Young, who has directed over 40 erotic features, will release The DIY Porn Handbook: Documenting Our Own Sexual Revolution this winter. In the meantime, she's already passing her DIY porn knowledge on to students at San Francisco's first Erotic Film School. Students went through a three-step application process to gain admission to the three-day course, and some students traveled from as far as our nation's capital.

The curriculum included keynotes from local performers like Jiz Lee and Maggie Mayhem, as well as field trips to The Upper Floor at Kink.com to see how the big studios make the magic happen. The 2015 class matriculated March 15 at the Center for Sex and Culture.

Over three days, students produced, shot, and edited a short erotic film. Their efforts resulted in Fleur de Les, a sexy short starring me and Missy Minks as strangers who meet inside a library, reach for the same book, touch hands, and share what one of the students called a “psycho-sexual, erotic, Lynchian fantasy.” It involved a lot of red velvet, glass dildos, and pouring lube onto a lily.

“Would it be possible for you to squirt into the lily?” the student director asked Minks as she approached orgasm next to me, sprawled out on red velvet, a white trumpet lily perched inches from her vagina.

“We are at a really exciting moment in film history,” Young says about why she decided to start the school. “We have greater access than ever to technology and equipment to create film and tell our stories.”

Most of the porn I've done has been independently made by queer and feminist directors like Young, who have gone the DIY route and learned hard lessons along the way, like remembering to charge the extra camera battery, in case the first one starts to die just as your models are getting ready to climax, and always remembering to bring makeup sponges in case someone gets her period.

Young emphasizes treating the models with respect, ensuring they have positive experiences, and getting all their needs met — from choice of lube to dietary preferences.

During the shoot, the students switched roles every six minutes, so each student walked away with at least a few moments of behind-the-camera time — setting up shots, adjusting lighting, and capturing footage. There's a lot to balance.

Now that the first edition of the Erotic Film School has wrapped, the students have begun submitting Fleur de Les to different film festivals. Application forms for the 2016 Erotic Film School will go on the website (eroticfilmschool.com) within a week. Young's handbook comes out just in time for the holidays, so those who don't make the cut for the film school can still learn all the secrets of making your own porn, so everyone across America and beyond can learn how to make sure their own “psycho-sexual erotic Lynchian fantasy,” is always free of dumbbells.