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10 Years of Love, Marriage, and Filming People Having Sex, Part II

In Part I we learned how, after a disappointing evening with a couple of porn tapes, Tony Comstock begin to conceive of a different approach to challenge of capturing sex on film, and how he and his wife began to align their various personal and professional resources to begin exploring new possibilities.

HOW MR. AND MRS. COMSTOCK MET, MARRIED,
AND BEGAN FILMING PEOPLE HAVING SEX, PART II

The next step was to begin shooting studies or test shoots to begin to figure out what did and didn’t work. We began posting ads on various places where liberal couples congregated, the offer was simple: Let us film you making love, trust us to take the tapes away to edit, and in exchange you’ll get a professionally made, explicit, documentary-style film of the two of you having sex. No release necessary because we’re not going to sell or distribute these in any way. Of course there were a lot of “lookiloos”, people who thought it would be fun to chat with us about it, but were never seriously considering taking their clothes off, but amongst the lookiloos we began to find couples who took what we were doing seriously, and were exited at the prospect of being filmed while having sex.

The first time we actually “did it” was a little surreal. Leading up to the big day, we had met with the couple twice to make sure everyone was comfortable and on the same page. When the day came we set up a simple lighting scheme, told the couple “ready when you are”, and hit the ‘record’ buttons on our cameras. Tentatively the couple started to kiss and caress, and we began to move around them, looking for complimentary angles. At first Peggy and I were nervous, and so were they, but pretty soon they either forgo about us and the cameras, or maybe they were even getting off on the cameras, but whatever it was, they were digging each other, and we were getting great footage. When the shoot wrapped they thanked us for helping them have a new and exciting sexual adventure and we thanked them for being so generous and trusting. We packed our gear and the next day I began paring away at the roughly 90 minutes of footage (2 x 45) hoping to find the vision of sex that I wanted to see.

I worked on it on and off between paying gigs for the next few months. When I was done we had a seven minute vignette that used all the standard editor’s tricks – moving off a shot before it gets boring, fake match cuts to compress time, reaction shots, etc – the kind of things we expect when watching everything but porn. It wasn’t perfect, but it was so much more appealing than anything I had ever seen. There was plenty for us to improve on, even with our fledging technique, the raw footage we were capturing was hotter than anything in porn, and the way we were capturing it let me put it together in a way that was more crafted than anything in porn. I knew we were on the right track.

Over the next several years, we continued to shoot ‘studies’. We shot him on top, and her on top, and doggy style. We shot spooning and reverse cowgirl. We shot oral and anal and fisting. We shot nearly everything a man and woman can do together without props. And after each shoot we’d “debrief”, analyzing how we moved and communicated so we could be in the right place at right time to capture sex in a way that was completely explicit without seeming forced or faked. (We actually had a pair of those little wooden drawing manikins that we’d put in various sex positions and figure out where we needed to be to get the coverage we wanted!)

Beyond technique talked about how to relate with couples to make them relax and feel confident and exited to be with us, but also comfortable that their boundaries would be respected. With each couple that we shot and edited, we learned more about who to be, how to be, and where to be to make the kind of sex films we wanted to see. Of course making each little film was a lot of work, and there came a point where we wanted these films to be seen by the world at large, by people like us who weren’t the least bit squeamish about sex, but just didn’t find that porn had much to offer them.

By this time our work had a pretty solid reputation and it was relatively easy to find couples who wanted to test with us, and why not? All the fun and excitement of starring in your own porn movie, but your porn movie will be lovingly shot and edited by an ernest young couple instead of a nasty pornographer. You don’t get paid $500 bucks, but you don’t lose you anonymity either; if you’re a teacher or a politician, or just a regular (but very sexy) couple who’d rather not have the notoriety of being pornstars.

But at a certain point there just wasn’t that much left to learn by continuing to shoot tests. To take the work to the next level was going to take an investment of time and money I just couldn’t justify spending on a “hobby”, no matter how passionately I felt about the work. If we were going to continue, the idea was going have to prove itself commercially, and the first step in that process was finding real couples who were willing to sign a release. But as we began looking for people who were willing to take the risks of appearing in front of the public, naked, having sex, it was like starting over…

In Part III I’ll tell you how we transformed a curious hobby into a commercial undertaking.

-TC

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