You Tell Me Why Not, Part 2 (Director’s Bio)

Is there anything more embarrassing than writing about yourself in the third person? Yes there is. Writing a narrative of your accomplishments in the third person. Peggy’s away for a couple of days, which means I have no proof reader. Help!


Tony Comstock began exploring his ideas for a new approach to erotic cinema in the mid-nineties. Working with his wife Peggy, the two began shooting unreleased studies with friends and acquaintances to work through both technical and creative questions about how love-making could be captured in a way that was realistic, arousing, and cinematic.

The resulting short films were promising enough that in the Summer of 2001, Comstock directed his first film intended for commercial release, “Marie and Jack: A Hardcore Love Story.” Finished in late 2001, “Marie & Jack” received an indifferent welcome on the film festival circuit, and was rejected from every festival it officially entered in 2002. But it was invited to two festivals devoted to erotic and sexuality themed films, where “Marie & Jack” received an enthusiastic response from both audiences and judges.

Convinced this enthusiasm was evidence there was an audience for his work, Comstock spend 2003 marketing the film directly to independent video stores and book stores. At first the reception was cautious. While store owners and buyers were personally enthusiastic about “Marie & Jack”, they were unsure there was a market for a documentary-style short erotic film, especially when majority of the 28 minute running time was taken up by a talking-head interview. But in the Fall of 2003, San Francisco sex writer and educator Violet Blue named “Marie and Jack” to her Top Five Erotic Films of 2003, and by the end of the year, the commercial response was strong enough that pre-production was begun on a second film.

“Xana and Dax: When Opposites Attract” was shot in January of 2004, but a seemingly small cinemotography decision delayed its release until Spring of the following year. In the hopes of achieving a more cinematic look, Tony chose to shoot “Xana & Dax” in a 30fps progressive format, rather than the 30fps interlaced format used on “Marie and Jack”. The full ramifications of this choice did not become apparent until editing, when he realized the cadence and motion signature of the progressive format was completely different from either the traditional video or film, and his natural instincts on how to cut the film were all wrong. But after more than year of on again/off again struggle, “Xana & Dax” was release in the Spring of 2005, and has gone on to become Comstock Films highest grossing film to date.

2005 also saw new production. Not completely satisfied with either 30p or 30i video, Comstock worked with his long-time cinematographer Kiko Martin on a hybrid approach for these next films; shooting Super16 for the lovemaking portions, where exposure latitude was crucial; and 24fps progressive video for the interviews, where lighting could be more precisely controlled. Working closely with New York’s Magna Sound, he also developed a pulldown-free telecine process for the transfer of these productions’ film footage into the digital editing environment. This allowed Comstock to integrate both the loving-making footage and interview footage in a native 24fps post-production environment, rather than the industry-standard witch’s brew of field interlace and interframes usually needed to accommodate mixed media production.

The first of these productions, “Damon and Hunter: Doing it Together” was released in the Spring of 2006. That Summer it was invited to screen in the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, where it was named Best Documentary. From there the film was scheduled for two showings at Sydney’s QueerDOC Gay & Lesbian documentary film festival. But the film festival was unable to secure a waiver from the Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification (the OFLC objected to the explicit depictions of oral and anal intercourse and mutual mastubation,) and the screenings were ultimately cancelled. “Damon and Hunter” returned to New York for its home town premiere at the 2006 CineKink Film Festival, and finished the year by being named to several Best of 2006 lists, and receiving a GayVN Award nomination in the Best Alternative Release category along side the documentaries “Gay Sex in the 70s” and “That Man Peter Berlin.”

January of 2007 saw the release of “Matt and Khym: Better than Ever”, featuring a couple together nearly 20 years. Post-production work on the upcoming “Ashley & Kisha” distracted Tony and Peggy from the festival submission process, but even with no festival exposure, in a few short month “Matt & Khym” became Comstock Films’ fastest selling title to date.

And “Marie & Jack” the too short, too talky, too tender film that everybody loved, but nobody thought would sell? It’s in it’s fifth pressing, and available everywhere from Good Vibrations to Blockbuster Video.

“Ashley and Kisha: Finding The Right Fit” is the fifth installment in this ongoing exploration into love and sex and cinema, another declaration that sexual pleasure is a wholesome, joyous, and necessary part of love; and that the camera has no magical power to transmogrify it into anything less. Asked why he continues to devote his energies to the marginalized and marginalizing subject of sexual pleasure, Comstock borrows from Kisha’s testimony in his latest film:

“It needs no explanation,” says Comstock. “You watch these films. You tell me why not.”

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One Comment

  1. Posted May 15, 2007 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Tony, who is this biography for? Where will it appear? Because I think if it’s going to be distributed to the general public then you need to cut back on the technical detail.
    Also, I would leave out the bit about indifferent responses to Marie and Jack and concentrate on the positives.

    Also, perhaps you need a couple of paragraphs at the start about who you are, not just what you do. What’s your background, where do you live?

    Just some quick thoughts.

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