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January 19, 2017

Dana Vespoli Recounts the Election in ‘The Candidate’

This article originally ran in the January 2017 issue of AVN magazine. Click here to see the digital edition. Pictured: Uma Jolie, Brandi Love and Bree Daniels. Attendees at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo can find out more about the Best New Starlet nominees at a panel discussion at 3:30 p.m. on January 19 in The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas. Writer/director Dana Vespoli is in post-production with her “political thriller” The Candidate, starring Sweetheart Video exclusive g/g contract performer Brandi Love leading a cast that includes Julia Ann, Penny Pax, Kira Noir, Karlie Montana, Bree Daniels, Casey Calvert, Lyra Law and Uma Jolie, with Alec Knight and Brock Doom in non-sex roles. “It’s a political thriller, following up on Lefty, which is the first episodic feature we shot for Sweetheart,” Vespoli told AVN. “We were brainstorming another episodic type of thing that would resonate with viewers. We talked about the election and how we were bombarded with stuff in the news—you couldn’t get away from it—so we discussed doing a political thriller. We have Brandi Love under contract and she’s this very elegant, sophisticated woman. I came up with a treatment for something that could sort of mirror our election—there’s a female candidate who’s a Democrat and a male candidate who’s a Republican. They’re coming up against each other and there’s quite a bit of intrigue. “There’s a tragedy that happens in the story—that I won’t reveal—a tragic situation happens that brings the two opponents not together, but to an understanding,” Vespoli continued. “There are two stories happening, it’s not just her story, it’s Alec Knight’s story as well. He doesn’t have sex but he has a lot of things happening, He has a daughter who’s a closeted lesbian who’s secretly liberal. There’s also a controversy that comes out of Brandi Love’s past that’s used against her.” The four-day production worked from Vespoli’s 30-page script. “The story is told in five segments, all 40 to 60 minutes, and each builds to a cliffhanger,” Vespoli said. “Each new episode starts ‘Previously on The Candidate...’” “I was fortunate enough to be around when Dana was describing the script she was working on,” Love told AVN. “Just from listening to her describe the concept, she could see it in my eyes: ‘Please, dear God, tell me there’s a part for me.’ It’s enthralling, it’s controversial, it’s unique, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. So lucky for me that she invited me to be a part of it.” Love said playing her character was a challenge, because “it was different from my own personal beliefs. When I read it, I thought this is going to be funny, because my fans know me pretty well and I’m not shy about my opinions. I thought it would be fun from that perspective to see me play that role, and then I had to jump into owning the role, because I knew my fans would naturally not believe it. “Playing the lead is a lot more work. Feature films are a lot more intense, and there’s the pressure of knowing that you’re the lead. But those are the type of situations that I thrive in,” Love said. “This particular character was out of my comfort zone, which made the movie that much better, because I was forced into becoming what I call ‘a natural actor.’ I had to remove myself from my beliefs and my personal philosophy to really capture the role. Not only did it make the movie better, but personally I think we can all become so polarized when it comes to politics and this particular role forced me out of my box, really allowing me to thoughtfully consider the way the other side feels. It was awesome.” Vespoli told AVN that she was casting the production in her head as she wrote the script. “Brandi Love was easy, she’s our contract girl. Alec Knight is a very strong actor. Julia Ann, similar to Brandi, quite an incredible performer. Very good actress. She can memorize anything super quickly. Penny Pax: another strong actress, another strong performer. Casey Calvert. It was very easy. I tend to write for people, and I try to write dialogue that suits them. Everybody’s got a strength; I try and think in terms of that. “I’m pleased with it. I’m always hyper-critical, as I’m watching I see things I could have done differently, or expanded on, but we’re given a budget and a time frame and we work within those parameters. Overall I’m quite pleased with it. The performers were fantastic.” “I really hope people watch it with an open mind,” Love concluded. “I think they will be pleasantly surprised by the outcome and by the characterizations of the politicians themselves. I’m not going to say it’s the perfect ending, but it’s the ending all of us would appreciate.” The Candidate is scheduled for release January 23 from Sweetheart Video, distributed through Mile High Media.

 
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