Shooting The Perfect Gift: Hard Lessons Learned

Every movie you make teaches you something new. The shooting of The Perfect Gift–only my second video production–presented enough lessons to make me feel like a kindergartener taking Quantum Physics 101.

Lesson #1: Hire only professionals. (Text from SKINFLICKS is in italics.)

flyers and book cover 017(My business partner)Joe had written his swinger friends into the shoot…these sex party stalwarts became camera-conscious and couldn’t stay erect. Fortunately, the reliable Don Fernando stunt-cocked enough penetration close-ups to add hardcore to all the “sim” (simulated) action.

Joe’s excuse for his buddies was that they thought they’d be working with the dreamy-eyed star Dorothy LeMay, who’d cancelled due to vaginal injuries inflicted during a stage-show at the Mitchell Brothers’ O’Farrell Theater by Annette Haven’s over-zealous dildo work. Instead, the men were stuck with lanky, horse-faced Liza, another of the Bay Area’s Jill-of-all-sex-trades call-girls.

Lesson #2: For Every piece of Equipment have a Twin.

Shotgun microphones quit because of trampled cables. Our rich-boy videographer, Denny, hadn’t brought any backups….Torrential rains drummed the roof and windows, making audio–now recorded on weak in-camera microphones–unusable.

Lesson #3.  Pay Cash, not Promises.

Then Denny went on strike. He’d made a deal for six percent
of gross profits instead of cash. Now he concluded that the
miserable shoot would never make a profit and he wanted cash
instead. I was mad enough to punch him out, but I didn’t know
how to work his gear. We agreed to pay him cash.

Lesson #4: Realize that there are Worse Things than a F&*%ed-up Production.

On Sunday morning, something put the shoot into
perspective. In the continuing downpour, the 220-volt line
clamped into the main power box on the side of Joe’s house fell
off. The set went dark.

Standing in the water rushing down the steep hillside, I said a prayer.

Despite gloves and boots, the rain could create an unbroken surface of water from the box to my feet. A 220-volt zap meant instant death. I let the spring clamp snap onto the electrode and pulled my hand away just as a fat blue spark erupted. It felt wonderful to be alive. I wedged a bucket over the box to protect it.

Lesson #5: Choose Porno Business Partners whose only Interest is Making Money. 

Before I left for L.A., Joe made a comment that led to our
three-year business partnership. I’d complained about the hassles
of shooting porn, and Joe said, “I think you’re very fortunate. For
fifty years I’ve wanted to make pictures about sex.”

He had script ideas, a great location, and knew northern
California models. He wasn’t rich but had a few thousand to
invest. I had movie-making skills and access to distribution. We
discussed collaboration.

There was one caveat: Joe said, “If I can’t get laid out of the deal, then this venture isn’t worthwhile for me.”

Getting laid turned out to be the least of his problems.

Joe was finding that being a first-time porn director was like laying bricks during an earthquake; you put one up and two fall off.

And it’s even worse when you’re also trying to be an actor and have to get it up.

Next: Shooting The Perfect Gift, Part 2: Are things finally Going Right?  The House Built for Orgies.  Juliet Anderson’s famous BJ.  The Branded Slave Girl who freaks out Juliet.  And how to put your putz in porn but not your punum.


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David Blander

David Blander had had many careers. As a director, he made commercials for clients such as Magnavox, the State of Michigan, Clark Equipment and Amway. As a video engineer, his biggest accounts were the underworld porn kings who pioneered the home video revolution of the 1980s. When California legalized medical pot in 1996, he developed a trophy-winning strain that he distributed to northern California dispensaries—until Feds and local sheriffs busted his grow-op warehouses. Now retired, Blander is beginning another career: writing. Plato said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Blander’s professional history gives his life plenty to examine.

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