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July 07, 2016

On the Set: 'Missing: A Lesbian Crime Story'

This article originally ran in the July 2016 issue of AVn magazine. See the digital edition here. Canada-based Girlsway has selected a familiar location house for the production Missing: A Lesbian Crime Story, but rather than using the well-exposed marble-floored living areas, they’re shooting in the house’s garage, a claustrophobically small space made more crowded by light stands supplementing the translucent panels in the garage doors. Screenwriter and co-director (with Stills by Alan) Bree Mills is in constant motion, checking costumes, pep-talking her performers, setting up shots and conferring with her co-director. She stops for a moment to talk about the production. “Missing is actually a continuation of the same narrative that we’ve been building over the last couple of features we’ve done,” Mills says. “All the work that we do fits in the universe that we’ve created, and the features are the big comic-book stories in that universe. Missing picks up about a year after the events in The Turning, and about six months after Project Pandora, which we just released.” Mills continues, “It’s about this post-apocalyptic society where there was a lesbian epidemic and it has been controlled by a right-wing organization called AWAL—the Association of Women Against Lesbians—led by a woman named Anita Sharp. The real goal of this movie is to introduce Anita’s character and set up AWAL as the real arch-nemesis of the MANTIS organization that we’ve been building over the last couple of features. It’s by far our most ambitious project to date, in terms of the scope and the cinematography. It’s a new level for us. We’re blasting the color saturation in post and it’s a 2.35 widescreen. “In all of my movies I try to pay homage to one cinema genre and this one I’m going to play off elements of true-crime and crime-thriller type films,” Mills reveals. “But instead of a detective movie I wanted to spin it with a journalist who’s uncovering acts behind these cases. When people watch it they should see the standard elements of a crime thriller, with our own twist. All of our films are filled with Easter eggs and interconnected story lines, but this will hold up as a stand-alone.” Mills’ ambitious plan for Missing is to shoot the equivalent of a six-episode feature series, with each episode running 40 to 50 minutes. “I always approach our projects less as a movie and more as a TV season. We typically release our content on all major platforms where people can pay for their porn. We have it on our membership site, and each episode will come out each week like a TV show. It’ll be available on VOD for people who want to fast-track and see it all at once, and it’ll come out on DVD as well.” Mills grins when asked about the cast: “We have an all-star cast for this one. The lead role of Lara Bradford, our investigative journalist, is played by Riley Reid. For this role I imagined playing her in a very different way from how people usually see her. I styled her after a sci-fi show called Orphan Black, about an edgy alt-girl protagonist. She’s got a leather jacket, combat boots, ripped jeans, dark makeup. It’s a different look for her, and the range of her acting is something nobody’s ever seen her do. It’s a challenge for her, acting-wise, and she’s done an amazing job.” The cast also features August Ames, Allie Haze, Kenna James, Kendra James, Cassidy Klein, Karla Kush, Sara Luvv, Karlie Montana and Reena Sky, with cameos by Adriana Chechik and Cherie DeVille from previous episodes and Mills herself in “my Hitchcock cameo.” As part of the larger multi-movie scenario, the big reveal in Missing is the identity of the Real Villain, which Mills requests not be spoiled in this story. The onscreen reveal is in the first part of a dramatic, swooping single shot where the camera follows The Villain through her lair: The garage filled with naked women is less an orgy than a torture chamber. Stills by Alan, wielding a camera, says, “It only gradually becomes apparent to us how fucked up this room is. At the end, you’ll say ‘Wow. That’s horrible.’” One girl is tied in a corner, her hands high above her head. One sits despondently in another corner, whimpering, bound into immobility. One is tied to a chair, a tube stuck to her thigh leading to an IV bottle. In the middle of the room, on a tarp, two dead-eyed girls, legs intertwined, bang their crotches together, lost in heir own world. Beyond them, two more nude bodies cross each other on the floor to form an X, discarded, lifeless, abandoned. The floor has stacks of labeled jars each filled with a clear sci-fi essence that the Villain is draining from her victims. The ambitious hand-held shot is laid out: it starts by focusing on the Villain’s shoes as she enters the room, then the camera dramatically swoops up to reveal her face. The Villain struts over to the despondent girl, fingers some sweat off her, licks it from her finger. The hand-held camera, simulating a Steadicam with a V-shaped handlebar-like grip, will keep up with the Villain as she surveys her domain, with a grip nearby carrying a fill light to provide constant illumination. The Villain steps over the X and goes over to the bound girl in the other corner, licking her cheek as she cringes away. She stops at the girl in the chair, sizes up the IV, purrs “Almost ready.” Chilling. The only sounds in the room besides the clack-clack of the Villain’s shoes are the low moans of the performers. She looks at the two girls scissoring and snaps, “Stop that!” They stop at once, or try to, because the tarp is slick with glycerin, simulating sweat. The Villain picks up a labeled jar, murmurs something about the porn star pictured on the label, then drinks it greedily, the excess running down her chin. That’s the plan. On the first take, a tech kicking over a stack of jars while walking backwards wasn’t in the script, but it happened anyway. The tension broken, laughter fills the room. Mills lets it run for a moment, letting the players relax, before starting again with a cheerful “Back to one.” Which elicits more laughter from the performers — because none of them moved during the shot. The six episodes of Missing: A Lesbian Crime Story are airing biweekly on Girlsway.com through August 12. The full movie is also available on select VOD platforms and on DVD. To order Missing and other Girlsway titles from Girlfriends Films Distribution, email ddiamond@girlfriendsfilms.com. Pictured above, Allie Haze, Riley Reid and Karla Kush in a still from Missing: A Lesbian Crime Story (Girlsway/Girlfriends Films).

 
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