SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—Most movies shot at Kink.com's massive fetish complex in San Francisco don't end up in mainstream theaters. But About Cherry, a new independent film starring James Franco and Heather Graham, is about to become the big exception. Directed by author Stephen Elliott, the film about a young woman's ascent into the porn industry was shot over the course of several months in 2011 on a custom built soundstage in the Kink Armory on Mission Street. Additional scenes, featuring Franco and Graham, were shot in and around the Armory itself.
"When Stephen Elliott approached us about the project, we immediately said yes," said Peter Acworth, president of Kink.com. "We've had a long-standing relationship with Stephen, and we were happy to have the chance to support a San Francisco filmmaker."
To accommodate the film, Kink converted a Roman bath set into a soundstage where much of the movie was shot. But Kink's relationship with the film didn't end there—the script was co-written by Kink star Lorelei Lee, and the company itself eventually signed on as a minor producing partner. In addition, several Kink employees participated in the production of the film during their off-hours.
For Elliott, the relationship was a natural fit.
"My earliest desires were about being kidnapped by a biker gang of leather-clad women," said Elliott in an interview on BehindKink.com, the company's in-house blog. "I've only ever sexual fantasies associated with BDSM." Writing about his sexuality, he says, was a way to also a way to come out about it.
While this is the highest-profile film project that Kink has been involved with, it's not the only one. Last year, Indietro, an independent film produced by Kink, premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin. The company strongly encourages employees to use their time at Kink to learn filmmaking skills that are applicable outside of the Armory. As a result, many Bay Area filmmakers have worked, and continue to work, at the company.
"We're not just a member of the San Francisco fetish community," says Acworth, "We're also member of the San Francisco film community. About Cherry was a unique opportunity for us to help a local filmmaker tell a story about both."
About Cherry premieres at the Castro Theater in San Francisco, and nationally, on Friday.