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February 26, 2016

On the Set: Daniels and Corvus Are 'Beauty and the Beast'

This report from the set of Harry Sparks' productio of Beauty and the Beast for Exquisite Films appears in the March 2016 issue of AVN magazine. The movie will be released March 7. Mainstream studio spaces have a different ambiance from studios dedicated to porn production. Mainstream studios have foyers, green rooms, bathrooms and showers with privacy, makeup tables with mirrors ringed with lights, Y-shaped ladders on wheels, apple boxes, chest-high tech tool cases. Air conditioning. This particular mainstream studio, in a light-industrial manufacturing complex tucked away on a side street, is dedicated to effects shots, as demonstrated by the two-story high studio-spanning back wall painted a seamless flawless luminous green, the better to disappear and be replaced by CGI. It is here that Harry Sparks is directing his porn take on Beauty and the Beast, from his own script, based on the original fairy tale. “I’m not going back to Jean Cocteau,” Sparks tells me. “It has elements of that one, but I wanted to go back to the original. Darker than some of the versions since then. The version I’m using has Beauty and her two sisters and the father. They lost all their money, and when they found one of his ships, that’s his motivation for going out to the Beast’s lair.” Sparks is adding another twist by building a contemporary frame of the main character reading a book and imagining herself in the story. “It takes place in two different worlds,” Sparks says. “The first world is the real world, where she’s reading the book. As she’s reading it we’re seeing it through her eyes, in the fairy tale. And she’s playing her sisters as well. It’s not a parody as such, it’s the Beauty and the Beast story with stuff added. I’m calling it an erotic fairy tale.” Xander Corvus will be playing the Beast, hidden under a wig and a prosthetic brow, and Dani Daniels is playing Beauty. “I’ve wanted to cast him in my past two movies, but he was busy and it was hard for us. I’ve always wanted Dani to play Beauty, and now that they’re a couple in real life [at the time when the movie was shot in 2014], they have chemistry. When they came together, it just sealed the deal.” The cast also includes August Ames, Callie Calypso and Evan Stone. The non-sex dialogue scene set for today is a challenging high-wire act, as Daniels is called upon to play Beauty and her sisters in three repetitions of the same scene as veteran performer James Bartholet plays her father. In the first iteration, Daniels plays Beauty, holding a book and thoughtfully and compassionately responding to Father’s statements, leaving empty silences where the other characters will chime in. All on an empty stage, in front of a featureless green wall. After the first few takes, Daniels rushes off, changes costume, and plays Beauty’s sister, standing in a different position, slouchy, whiny, complaining. This is where the high-wire act comes in: Daniels has changed clothes, makeup and attitude, and has to play a totally different character in the same scene she just played. On the flip side of the same coin, Bartholet must give precisely the same performance as he did the last go-round, for continuity. Hit the same marks, give the same line readings, make the same gestures, look the same direction on each line, on each retake, in each closeup. Once Sparks is pleased with the second set, Daniels is sent to change makeup and wardrobe again and become the third sister, as Bartholet gets ready to reprise his role. On “Action!” Daniels takes on her new role as the third sister, and Bartholet is required to play the same lines, exactly the same way, again. It’s a masterful feat of concentration and skill for both of them, and will be invisible on screen once the background is added and the three sisters are composited together. “It’s a whole different level of acting when you have to work on a green screen,” Bartholet says. “A lot of times, you don’t have another actor that you’re playing to, because it’s going to be CG’d in, that actor or that creature or that situation. I had an earlier scene where I was walking along a perilous cliff, and I had to imagine looking down over this oh-my-gawd precipice. It calls on your imagination. It calls on your acting skills. “Dani was playing three different characters, so I had to play not just to the one sister, but to the other two sisters. You really have to do some acting. That’s why I’m always telling these kids to take an acting class because you can’t get by just being able to fuck any more. You can’t just go ‘I’m the pool boy’ ‘I can’t pay for this pizza’ and—scene! “You have to be able to act, too. You have to learn your craft.” After a long post-production period, the movie is at last ready to come out. The DVD release offers a second disc of special features, including a non-sex version of the movie, outtakes, photo galleries and more. “I’m preselling the title now. There is already excitement surrounding this release,” said Exquisite sales manager David Peskin. “Already pre-orders are coming in. There are some really strong pre-booked numbers. We’re going to begin shipping it on February 29 with a March 7 street date.” To place a wholesale pre-order, email Peskin at davep@expxxx.com or call (818) 576-9464.

 
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