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Innerview: Robby D.

Digital Playground director bridges hardcore with mainstream

Innerview: Robby D.
VAN NUYS, Calif. - Robby D. has been identified with Digital Playground, as director and cameraman, so much and for so long that it may be hard to think of him as an entity of his own.

Yet his deal to shoot hard-edge gonzos for Digital through his company Handheld Pictures has had two immediate results. It has given Digital, better known for features and contract girls, a strong new presence in the gonzo market.

And, since he owns the movies, it has granted D. increased visibility as a member of the elite group of directors who have ownership deals with companies like Evil Angel and Jules Jordan Video.

With Handheld, the real Robby D. has finally been unleashed. As he told AVN, “We’re really going for the raincoater, and that’s what I am, through and through.”

He’s also a workaholic, responsible for from four to six movies every month, including his own. In person he radiates endless energy, zero pretension, contagious enthusiasm, and a deeply felt passion for porn. It was that passion that drove him into the industry in the first place. “I was such a fan,” he said. “I wanted to make a better product.”

He studied cinematography and directing at UCLA film school, getting a firm grounding in filmmaking techniques. Then he started calling studios for work, taking their rejections until one of the biggest, Vivid Video, decided to give him a try. Looking to expand their presence in the rapidly developing gonzo market, Vivid turned Robby loose on his own series: Action Sports Sex, The Watcher, Color Blind. He also directed a few small, higher-end features that attracted the attention of Digital Playground in 2003. His first project for the fledgling company, which was trying to establish a couples market, was a two-day feature, Suite 101.

Not long afterwards he created Jack’s Playground, which he’s still shooting, along with the spinoffs Jack’s Teen America, Jack’s POV, Jack’s Big Tit Show, et al.

Though shot in the classic gonzo style, these have not played to the same consumers as most gonzo releases, performing better with the college demographic.

“A lot of people like the Jacks,” D. said, “but they don’t like so much the character or the comedy. Guys just want pants around the ankles porn. Luckily enough, my own product, Handheld Pictures, is that now.”

His first Handheld movie was Control, released in early 2006. It’s now up to Vol. 6. After that came more series, all niche-oriented: Ass Addiction (anal sex), Cockasian (Asian girls), Hard Candy (young girls) and Throb POV. He recently started his first interracial line, Black Cock Slut.

They allow him to chart his own course regarding content and style. “With a lot of things I follow what the company tells me to do, or what the contract girl wants, or whatever,” he said. “But with my Handhelds, I’m listening to the consumer, and they’re opening my eyes to tons of new stuff.”

He and Digital co-owner Joone, for whom he worked camera on Pirates and the Island Fevers, mesh together well, though they come from different perspectives. D. summed it up: “Joone reads Maxim, I read Hustler. I love porn, and he loves mainstream. I’m lucky to be skilled enough to jump the tracks. He likes to use me and that’s great.”

He also shoots the ultra high-end creations of Celeste, his live-in companion.

“Working with Celeste is a dream come true,” he said. “She is the greatest stylist in the industry. Basically, she writes all the stories for the Celeste movies. She gives me the scripts and ideas, and I take it to set.”

It was D. who developed the distinctive slow-motion style of the Celeste releases, a technique he has abandoned because of negative consumer feedback. D. enjoys wearing all the different hats his job demands. “One day I’m Jack, next day I’m in Bora Bora for Island Fever, next day I’m on a pirate ship, next day I’m shooting for Handheld,” he said. “In one week I encompass all aspects of the adult entertainment industry as cinematographer and director.

“I’ve come a long way and, funny thing is, I don’t even feel tapped out yet,” he continued. “I haven’t seen any of my product peak — it’s growing every year and in different directions. I’m basically 24 hours a day, seven days a week in this business.

I’m learning all sorts of new things. I really don’t feel like I’ve even started yet.”

Visit digitalplayground.com and robbyd.com.

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