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January 27, 2016

Taking One for the Team in 'Total Exposure'

This article originally ran in the January 2016 issue of AVN magazine. Click here for the digital edition. It’s a sad truth for many studios: Blockbuster shoots have gone the way of the dodo. “Larger projects died out because no one can afford to make them,” says Falcon Studios Group director Steve Cruz. “We still make them because we can still afford to make a few a year. I wish we could afford to make more, but the effects of piracy and free porn has really decimated my industry. It’s why so much porn today is amateur or shot in rooms with basic light—that stuff costs practically nothing to make. If we stopped making larger projects or gorgeously lit projects, we’d stop being Falcon.” Thankfully for fans, that bird has lasted. And it has allowed Cruz to draw on inspiration from his days in front of the camera. “I was excited to go away to gorgeous locations for weeks at a time to be a part of a bigger budget production. It was like going away to porn summer camp. The experiences I had forged lasting relationships and memories.” What better experience to draw upon for Raging Stallion’s Total Exposure, the studio’s two-part blockbuster that debuted late last year? “We wanted to make a movie about making a big porn project, and also tell the stories in the models’ own words,” says Cruz. “Something for the fans. The idea was something I wanted to do for years. When I got the green light from the studio to film, I asked Nick [Foxx] to join me because I knew he had the skill set to help make the project great.” The project is meant to be a realistic look into the lives of members of the Falcon Studios Group A-Team, an exclusive collection of the industry’s top talent. The project features the likes of Sebastian Kross, Johnny V, Boomer Banks, Austin Wolf, Andrew Stark, Sean Zevran, Nick Sterling and Jimmy Durano—all of them at a scenic, remote cattle ranch in a project that combines behind-the-scenes documentary with high-quality sex. In the editing process, Cruz referenced late ’80s/early ’90s concert documentary movies, where the stage performances were in color and the behind-the-scenes reality was converted to black and white to help visually organize the two experiences for viewers. They shot the sex scenes with their best equipment and idealized lighting, while the behind-the-scenes moments was a mixture of smartphone footage and hand-held professional cameras. “I really loved the guys interacting with each other a lot more off screen. It really was like porn summer camp,” says Foxx. “We saw some weekend relationships form, which led to impromptu pairings later … one surprising scene for me was Austin Wolf and Brian Bonds. It was an oral scene, but was so amazing and powerful it rivaled some of the full sex scenes. I also really loved learning more about these guys on an intimate level.” Foxx notes that the extended interviews and behind-the-scenes moments were the heart and soul of the project. “These exclusives have a lot of depth to them. We wanted to show that they’re not just these mindless sex performers,” he says. “Sometimes it’s hard for the guys to really open up. Steve and I interviewed the models that we are closer with to have (everyone be) more comfortable with us to get down to it. We also know certain things about the guys to probe a topic and see if they bite and run with it. But once the guys felt comfortable with us, they really just let it all out.” Adds Cruz: “You can’t have a movie like this without that footage. In the past we’d shoot hours and hours of this stuff and pack it on as DVD extras. I think fans of gay porn are fascinated with what it’s like to be on set. At least it seems that way by the number of requests we get from people trying to get backstage. So this is our open invitation to fans.” Cruz notes that he reluctantly agreed to conduct the interviews in front of the camera at the request of the executive producer, who felt that would be more personal (“I saw his point”). “We tried to ask probing questions like Barbara Walters or Oprah,” says Cruz with a laugh. “I’m half-kidding … I didn’t want to only ask the typical basic questions you always hear porn stars being asked. I thought if models had a chance to be themselves and represent themselves honestly, it might make them that much more attainable to the fans. Human is sexy. Some of these men are enterprising and exceptionally intelligent. They have a very unique perspective on life.” The director notes that they were more conversations than interviews, with questions tailored to the stars. Among the collective revelations: the mother of Chris Bines’ ex flittered cars in his hometown with images of his porn (“Crazy stuff,” notes Foxx); a lot have a love/hate relationship with social media; and among the group are geeks, gamers, talented artists, designers, world travelers, core members of fundraising communities and more. “I wanted the project to be about them,” says Cruz. “My favorite moments were learning things I never knew about these guys. I feel we connected on some human or deeper level with each one of the men, which made them that much more sexy. Each day I was just buzzing on that energy, the human connection we rarely get to feel shooting sex. And laughing…we spent a lot of time laughing.” Both directors say they were fully aware of not painting the performers in a bad light to “ruin the fantasy” for the fans—although for some fans, any behind-the-scenes footage can ruin it. “If you want to reduce your porn star to a living replica of a blowup doll, then these interviews will bore you, maybe even offend you,” says Cruz. “But if you power through on fast forward, there is so much hot sex in these movies you can’t be disappointed. Sure, too much behind the scenes can ruin the fantasy for some. But on the other hand, so much of our mainstream entertainment is reality based, it’s been that way for over two decades. Public interest in undeniable. Perhaps the success lies in a concise, quick-moving edit.” Thankfully, the two directors had each other to draw upon for advice. “Steve and I worked very well together,” says Foxx. “We split every scene down the middle and played to our strengths, combining our individual styles. That could sound like a total nightmare to some directors, but we really clicked. Steve loves wide beauty shots and still frames, I love getting up close and personal gonzo style.” Adds Cruz: “Nick is a blast to shoot with. I would say to him half-jokingly on set, ‘You complete me…,’ which would keep the laughs rolling. But it’s true. I like to shoot the cock sucking, he likes the rimming. We both took turns directing segments of every scene and shot it simultaneously, like a dance. He’s as capable and experienced, and a real joy to be with. It’s a true collaboration.”

 
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