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June 03, 2016

David Lord on 'Casual Encounters' and a Life in Porn

This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of AVN magazine. Click here to see a digital edition of the magazine. CHATSWORTH, Calif.—When Ron Jeremy penned his autobiography, The Hardest (Working) Man in Showbiz, the book’s title gave a nod to the adult star’s most famous attribute. For director David Lord, remove those parentheses and you’d have the story of his life—because this is a guy who truly works hard. Lord’s 76 directing credits on IAFD.com don’t give the whole picture. Sure, some of these are elaborate productions that took considerable effort to make it to DVD, such as his biggest movies for Adam & Eve Pictures: 9 1/2 Weeks: An Erotic XXX Parody (2014), Grindhouse XXX: A Double Feature (2011) and Killer Bodies: The Awakening (2011). But there’s also his uncounted behind-the-scenes work on countless other movies, including production manager duties on many of Wicked Pictures’ biggest movies—such as last year’s winner for Best Drama, Stormy Daniels’ Wanted. On set he is a commanding presence, barking orders and tossing out sardonic asides, and his easy competence comes from his deep roots in porn. With a résumé that stretches back to the 1990s, he probably knows as much about DVD production as anybody in the biz. But sharing that history was not why the director had stopped by AVN earlier this year. He was there to talk about Casual Encounters, his most recent movie for Wicked Pictures. “There are the few movies in your career that you’re really proud of,” he said, and “Casual is probably one of my best movies I’ve ever made.” Lord explained, “I was given a challenge [by ‘the Steves’ at Wicked] to tell a story without any dialog. … I got past the ego and bitchiness and said, ‘All right, let’s think about this.’ And that’s how [Casual Encounters] came about.” Lord realized, “Most of our conversations aren’t conversations anymore. So how do I tell that story? I tell it through social media. I tell it through texting. I tell it through emails back and forth to people. And that’s what tells the story, in combination with the visuals. ... There are only five spoken words in the whole movie.” The movie is stars Wicked Pictures contract star Jessica Drake as Julie, who answers an ad in the “casual encounters” section of a website. That decision is the key to unlocking another side of her sexuality. Moving beyond the constraints of traditional relationships, Julie seeks to experience sensual pleasure on her own terms.  “It’s a different take on storytelling,” Lord said, “and I got to do what I love to do, and that is get my shots, make it pretty, set up these scenarios that are in my head and try to re-create it for everyone else to see.” Of one scene involving public sex in a dark parking lot lit by car headlights, he said, “Like the car scene in this, I’ve had in my head my whole life I’ve been watching adult. I think I saw something similar to it in a movie years and years and years and years ago.” In the end, he and his fellow cameramen got that shot. And even though he worked with multiple cameramen, largely due to Drake’s very busy travel schedule for personal appearances, the director kept a consistent look throughout. “My vision was clear going into it. Literally, everything was premeditated.” Lord continued, “When you’re watching your movie in your editing bay and you’re jumping up and down and pumping your fists, going ‘Yes, Yes, Yes,’ that’s where I’m at with this movie. It’s everything I wanted it to be.” He shares the credit for this end result. “I can’t say enough things about my crew and cast. Jessica really killed it in this movie. Really trusted me. … I really respect when people stretch beyond their comfort zones. She really pushed herself. When you see that big scene with the cars, it was about 30 degrees in the middle of a canyon.” Going back to Lord’s IAFD.com credit page, it also doesn’t reveal when Lord’s adult career really began—and he got started young. A Southern California native who moved to the San Fernando Valley at age 13, Lord first tried to get a job in adult when he was 15, “but they’d caught me after three days,” he said. “I was always a worker. I always wanted to work.” Eventually, he got his foot in the door. Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Lord played in bands—and like all of his fellow musicians, he did telemarketing. “Whether it was pens or toner, you sold shit. Telemarketing—it was what you did. Especially if you had long hair and you were in a band, it was what you did. Like your day job. “I was looking in the LA Weekly and I saw an ad: telemarketing adult videos,” he continued. “I answered the ad and it was Arrow Film and Video, with Lou Peraino, the last of the Mohicans, and Butchie and Tony and all those guys. Deep Throat. And he hired me. He hired me to sell videos. And at the time we were selling Betas and small box and big-box VHS. And that’s how I got in.” After that Lord bounced between Western Visuals and Arrow most of the time, but he also worked for Scott Taylor at New Sensations, for Caballero, and also for Private, where he—and the industry as a whole—moved from VHS to the next big thing. At Private he sold CD-ROMs (“games and picture sets and all that"), but then, “I saw DVDs on the horizon. I’m a dork, I’m a nerd—I loved shit like that.” So Lord got into producing DVDs rather than selling them: “getting the masters, getting photo sets, figuring out how many extras I can come up with, what the functionality of the medium was, and how to get maximum benefit.” “Most people remember me when I was at Private USA and I started doing DVDs. ... I was kind of the grandfather of that technology in that era,” he recalled. Lord also produced DVDs at Wicked Pictures for several years. “We did some great stuff over at Wicked. We were the first dual disc. I actually did the first-ever script-to-screen, where you can read the script and click it and it’ll jump to that point in the movie. We did a follow-along, which I believe was one of the first comic book follow-alongs, where it was the panels of the comic book—one of Jenna’s movies. You could watch the comic book and then flip the angle button and go to the movie. ... And getting the actors together for the commentaries.” And because he’s a self-confessed workaholic, that led to spending time on the weekends and on vacation shooting behind-the-scenes footage. “That’s me. Work work work work work. And then I started learning how to use the camera. Jonathan Morgan, actually, gave me my first couple of gigs: ‘You work for free, I’ll fucking teach you how to do it.’ And sure as shit I did. So thank you, Jonathan Morgan, for getting me into the other side of the industry.” His first directing credit was on Evil Angel’s Vault of Whores in 2005. “That was right at the beginning of my career.” Asked about his cinematic inspirations, Lord said, “I’ve worked with some of the big heavy hitters, Brad Armstrong, Axel Braun, older guys like Nick Andrews and Michael Raven. Old-school stuff would be, like, New Wave Hookers, and the Andrew Blake stuff was really pretty important for me. Tony Scott did a movie, Domino. I love Domino. The visuals in it are just insane.” But he’s not all about visual pyrotechnics. Sometimes he goes for depth. “I did 9 ½ Weeks ... one of the first movies of my own that ever actually invoked an emotional reaction. At the end, where she walks away and he’s counting and he has his head turned, and she goes downstairs and puts the watch on the ground, gets that strength to just walk away from the abusive relationship. What is the Yiddish word? I was all verklempt. It’s like, ‘Ooooh it’s so sweet.’ It’s the first time I’ve ever felt an emotion other than arousal in an adult movie. Ever ever ever ever ever ever. So I was very proud of that.” In addition to his work behind the scenes on big Wicked and Adam & Eve movies, Lord also directs for Devil’s Film. He likes directing, but he also enjoys the lighter duties involved with producing. “I took some time off, honestly, and just wanted to work. I didn’t want to have to write. Because I usually write and do my own art direction ... it’s not just the four days or three days or two days I shoot; it’s a longer commitment. ... But I’m getting that itch again.” On top of the movie work, Lord has two other enterprises. “The Custom Culture Tattoo in Reseda and the Chop Shop in Woodland Hills are both mine. Both wonderful businesses and I’m very proud of those.” Musing on his career, Lord said, “Through all of this I’ve stayed pretty consistent, and I think that is because of the fact that people know they can depend on me and I don’t half-ass shit. I might not be the smoothest person in the world—I could probably have some more tact and have a filter—but I’m getting that with age.” Above, left: David Lord on the set of The Key; photo by Glenn Francis. Right, Jessica Drake in Casual Encounters (Wicked Pictures).

 
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