Back in the 1960s through the ‘80s, we didn’t stand on our feet for 16 to 20 fucking hours under that unbearable heat all day and night just to watch people trying to fuck each other. We came to shoot film.
Some of us came to learn, but most of us came to show everyone that we knew our stuff. Believing that we could handle our action on the set far better than the next guy, all we wanted was a chance.
I can still remember those times when I was itching for that instant when I was allowed to yell “action.” All I wanted to do was direct movies. I didn’t know dick about real porn and real pornographers; I only knew that I liked watching porn ever since the ‘50s.
I studied the films of other directors in the game and often wondered just what it was that compelled them to go the distance with those silly-ass, scripted “adult features” that lured strippers, hookers and would-be actresses.
“Will you go naked and suck the lead actor’s cock?”
“If the script calls for it…if it’s part of her character, of course…”
These were the days when we traded our lives and souls for a small livelihood and a better life. A cocksucker got her rate kicked up to maybe $100; a decent first assistant cameraman could hold out for $60; and the shooter earned a hundred bucks a day.
If you got your ass booked on a five-day sex movie, you figured on short money but always one or two new contacts that were “moon-lighting” from the “legit” world. It was a guy’s best hope for an opportunity to show his stuff to somebody — anybody — who just might know someone who knew someone.
Porn — or “adult,” as we called it — was always ranked at the bottom; even a “splatter” show had higher status. When some guy on the crew was lucky enough to have caught even as little as one or two days working the sets of Serpico or The Godfather, our hopes and dreams were fired up. His stories were timeless and his phone number priceless.
But not me — I wanted more. I wanted to direct porn more than anything else. I wanted to become the next Alex de Renzy. I had directed a few soft-core adult films back the ‘60s and early ‘70s. And while I cut my teeth on such films as Lust Weekend, The bizarre Ones and Scorpio 70, I didn’t direct a real porn film until the fall of ’78.
Porn directors like Alex de Renzy, Henry Paris, Anthony Spinneli, Robert McCullum and others were way out in front of me. Even worse, McCullum and de Renzy did their own camerawork, and I didn’t have any real experience at shooting the camera. I was going to have to find another way to get there.
So I wrote my first porn script instead, and when I finished it I got lucky. I teamed up with Cecil Howard and I got my first real shot at directing a porn film. I couldn’t shoot the camera, but I could say “action” with the stuff I wrote as if I owned the world.
Babylon Pink was probably the lowest-budgeted porn film of all time, but I didn’t care. I was going to either kick ass all over the country with my kind of porn or fall flat on my ass.
Again, I got lucky. That little movie took money in so fast you couldn’t steal it.
I had a fifteen-year run, and by the mid-‘80s I had directed more “all-adult films” than any other player in the game. And I loved it. I even became best friends with Alex de Renzy.
My kind of porn… Back in those days, I believed that if the performers could reveal more about their sexual characters using my dialogue while they were fucking, instead of before, I had something better to offer the theaters.
I didn’t write plotted stories about “Who Killed Cock Robin” or whatever silly plot got stuck between the sex scenes. Instead, I wrote vignettes about sex. Then I had the performers act with my dialogue and fuck at the same time. Talk about being a control freak….
It has taken me twenty-five years to finally understand why I did all that writing, and controlled all my shots with my insistent ways of directing. It was because I didn’t know how to shoot the fucking camera.
When I first started, I didn’t know how to light or compose the frame. I didn’t understand the dynamics of the lens, or the reactions from different film speeds, or things dealing with depth of field, shadows and color; I was just too fucking envious to know it. I was too busy doing my job to do my job.
When video took over film, I had to learn how to shoot the camera my self, and it wasn’t easy. I was getting older, no longer getting enough of those fat bookings I used to get in the old days. Budgets were coming down and new directors were coming up.
“I have to direct today with just one fucking day to shoot it?”: Henri Pachard waking up.
“I get to direct today and I’ve got all fucking day to shoot it!”: New director coming up.
It’s video, baby; now anyone could learn to say “action”. I was over 50 when I taught myself to shoot my own camera. I had to, in order to make enough money to support myself and all those women I used to enjoy whoring around with. I was not only good at saying “action”; I was great at playing the role of “porn legend.” All it took was money, hope and dope.
Now I’m over 60 and I’ve finally discovered what it is about porn and me; and what it’s probably always been.
The best part about shooting the camera myself is that I own it. Right then and there, it’s mine. Not the property rights — the emotional rights. I could care less who profits from it.
When I’m shooting and my mind and emotions are open and trusting, I can become part of the relationship that evolves among the performers as the sex begins. It’s not all that frequent, but when it’s there, it’s an amazing experience.
When I’m just shooting and not talking, alone in the room with just those two fucking, it becomes another kind of human connection that can’t be compared with anything else. And although I’ve often felt this seemingly bizarre form of human contact for the last decade or so, I never knew why or how this actually happens when it does. But I think I do now: It’s a whole other kind of action that goes beyond things merely sexual.
It’s something that’s forever.
Henri Pachard is a veteran adult director as well as a masterful storyteller who graciously pens a column for AVNInsider each week.