This interview originally ran in the March 2014 issue of AVN magazine. To see the rest of the print coverage of the AVN Awards Show, click here.
Wins for Best Romance Movie (The Temptation of Eve) and Best BDSM Movie (The Submission of Emma Marx) at the 2014 AVN Awards solidified the New Sensations screenwriter and director as a force in relationship-drive storytelling. Jacky St. James told AVN a little bit about her projects in 2014. [Note: St. James also just won two Feminist Porn Awards on April 6.]
Regarding The Sexual Liberation of Anna Lee, which released in March, St. James said, "It's about a sexually repressed woman who seeks help from two controversial doctors with an approach to therapy that is anything but conventional. I'm proud of this film because it touches on the idea that sexuality is defined by the individual and that there is no right or wrong way to express it. It stars Maddy O'Reilly, who has a beautiful, almost enchantingly subdued personality ... until you get her in the bedroom (and this powerful, sexual creature emerges). The cast also includes Steven St. Croix, Xander Corvus, India Summer, Jessa Rhodes, and Johnny Castle—all of whom help her along in her journey in different ways. It ranks as one of my more favorite love stories that I've written."
St. James added, "I am going to be directing a lot more this year. Most of my films will be for Digital Sin's Tabu Tales. The line centers around taboo story lines (primarily sex between stepfamily members). What can I say, I dig those kind of stories!!! There's something incredibly hot about taboo sex. Titles in that series include Keeping it In the Family and Our Father. I'm also going to be doing some other vignettes in a yet untitled series for New Sensations."
At a panel on "The Future of the Feature" during the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, St. James made reference to one of her movies being a "pain in the ass" to make. We followed up with her later, curious about which movie she was referring to and what had happened during the shoot. St. James confirmed the movie in question was The Seduction of Emma Marx. And regarding the shoot, she said, "Oh, where do I begin? I know I speak for Eddie Powell too, when I say that Emma Marx was one of the biggest headaches (and coincidentally biggest successes) of our careers. It was the only film I've worked on, where everything that could go wrong went wrong. Initially I had cast Remy and Xander in the leads. I actually WROTE the script for them. Shortly after the script was approved, Remy took a break from the adult industry."
When Xander also was unavailable, it was back to the drawing board: "We set to casting the movie. Richie was an easy choice early on—he knows how to act and he's got the right look. The role of Emma was more frustrating. We read about 18 girls, Penny being the last. Penny was EMMA and I guess it was a stroke of good luck that our original casting choices fell through, because I am not sure anyone would have done a more perfect job than she did."
St. James continued, "Next, finding the perfect location was a nightmare. We looked at countless houses, none of which fit the bill. FINALLY, after weeks of searching, I found our ideal home, booked the location, and ONE DAY before we were set to start shooting the homeowner backed out. He got a year-long renter and was unwilling to work around our four-day shoot schedule. So we were left scrambling to find another location and juggling the cast and crew's schedules all over again.
"Production was brutal too. Long, exhausting days. Over 112 scenes in four days is a lot to tackle—especially when you have a four-man crew (one sound guy, two camera guys, one PA). Post production was just as brutal and I was doing voiceover rewrites up until the film was done."
Finally, St. James said, "I got to a point where I threw up my hands and said, 'Well, we worked our asses off and it didn't turn out just as we'd hoped, but it is what it is.' I think when you're working as both a writer and director, you feel a greater sense of responsibility in having the film to live up to the vision you created in your head. I have extremely high standards, so I usually am always kicking myself in the ass. 'Why didn't I do this? Why didn't I do that? This could be better. That could be better.' Trust me, I'm still self-flaggelating over acting decisions I made in high school plays! At the end of the day, you really have to just work your ass off and do the best you can do given the circumstances. We always do do that, and Emma Marx happened to turn out better than any of us expected. I am really happy for that. I'm happy for every single person who worked on Emma Marx, brought their A game, and kept a positive attitude the entire time. You win some, you lose some, you love some, you hate some—but if you do what you love, that is what matters! And even though I'm always grappling over how I could have made something better, I absolutely love everything about my job—even the self-flagellation part."