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March 02, 2017

Pryor, Calvert Present Private Screening of Indie Project 'Diminuendo'

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif.—AVN Hall of Fame director Bryn Pryor (aka Eli Cross) and performer Casey Calvert co-hosted a presentation Tuesday night at a West Hollywood screening house of their independent feature Diminuendo for cast, crew and invited friends and family. Co-written by the duo, with Pryor directing and Calvert producing, Diminuendo is set in the not-too-distant future and tells a dark tale of a self-destructive director who gets a shot to resurrect his career with a biopic about his own former lover, a deceased Hollywood star who killed herself the night she won the Oscar for Best Actress nine years earlier ... to be portrayed in the movie-within-a-movie by an A.I. robot created to eerie perfection in her likeness. The part of the director is played by recently passed Battlestar Galactica alum Richard Hatch, to whom the screening was dedicated with tributes beforehand from Pryor, Calvert and co-star Chloe Dykstra, who fills the dual role of the departed actress and her robotic reincarnation. A number of adult stars appear in the movie as well, most notably James Deen as the loathsome actor playing the younger Hatch in the biopic, but also including Ana Foxxx, Tyler Knight, Tommy Pistol, Xander Corvus, Derrick Pierce, Lily Lane, and Pryor and Calvert themselves. In addition, veteran industry director/cinematographer Hank Hoffman shot the picture. Bearing some distinct thematic similarities to DNA, Brad Armstrong's AVN Award-nominated epic of last year, Diminuendo actually grew out of an adult script, its creators revealed, by the late David Aaron Clark. "[Clark's] script was just about a director with a sex doll that he becomes obsessed with," Pryor told AVN. Clark intended to direct the project for the now-defunct SexZ Pictures, but "SexZ dropped it and I felt guilty because he had worked on it for like two months for no money, so I bought the script from him." That script was titled Doll Parts, Pryor said, and as an homage to Clark, Doll Parts appears as a working title for the script by Hatch's character in Diminuendo. It was about two and a half years ago, Calvert expounded, that she and Pryor took to reworking Clark's original concept as a mainstream script, but "it was still about the porn business. And James Deen actually came over to our house one night and said, 'No, you can't make it about the porn business, this has to be about the mainstream business,' and broke the story open. And we went from there." The actual shoot took place over six weeks between last August and September, and at this point, Calvert said, the movie only has some audio editing left to be tackled and is "about 92 1/2 percent complete. It's almost done." Despite not having the fully finished product in the can, she explained, "We scheduled this screening because we found out that Richard Hatch had cancer and was getting sicker and sicker very quickly, and we wanted to hold a screening for him before he passed so he could come to the screening. And then nobody, including Richard himself, realized how quickly he was going to get sick, and so Richard passed away about two and a half weeks ago." Fortunately, she said, Hatch was able to see the nearly-completed project while he was still here. "We took it to him on a tablet and he got to watch the movie before he passed," Calvert imparted. "He loved it, he said it was his best movie, it's his best work, and we're so happy that he got to see it. And then we decided that it would be the right thing to do to continue to hold the screening in his honor." As a symbolic nod to Hatch at the screening, the center seat was left open in the front row of the auditorium. For Calvert, who received a degree in film production from the University of Florida in 2012—a mere five short years ago—having now screened a full-length motion picture right in the thick of Hollywood that she produced and co-wrote is "very bizarre. I mean this is technically the third mainstream project that I've been associated with and gone to the screening of [she was also a producer on Pryor's Cowboys & Engines and X-Rated: The Greatest Adult Movies of All Time], but this is not a documentary about the porn business or a short, so it's a little bit bizarre for sure, but it's great. It's great that all these people came to watch my movie." Marveling that "not in my wildest dreams" could she have foreseen such a thing, she added, "It sounds stupid, but it's all because of porn. I moved to L.A. to do porn. Had I not moved to L.A., I would not be here, standing in this room after watching 300 people watch my movie." She also noted that the porn ties posed no obstacles on the project. "All of our regular mainstream actors knew exactly where we came from," she said. "Richard, especially, was fascinated. Richard thought it was great. We had nobody judge us. You learn a lot about making movies in the porn business—especially cheap movies." To that end, Pryor asserted, "I think we did great with the money that we had. Does it look like a $10 million movie? No. It was never going to. But does it feel like we had more than $350,000? Yeah, I feel like it does. And by the time we're done, it'll be better. So I think we did great with the resources we had." At the same time, he argued that making an adult move is a completely different animal from his experience making Diminuendo. "You can't really compare the two," he said, "just because what we did in adult, it's more like shooting reality TV. You don't have the time, you don't have the money ... [2008 AVN Best Video Feature] Upload cost every bit as much as this movie did, but I also had to have 16 sex scenes in Upload, and that eats a bunch of money, so we had a huge crew for adult, but it's nothing like this. It's not fair to compare the two." He continued, "The hardest part—and P.T. [Paul Thomas] talked about this one time when I interviewed him, and he's absolutely right—the hardest part is that adult is a purpose-driven medium. Thing one is make porn, not tell a story. It has to be. You're making a tool, it's a masturbatory tool. It might be nice to have a $69 chrome vanadium hammer with a lacquered hickory handle, but if you can't drive nails with the fuckin' thing, it's no good to you. Thing one is it has to drive nails. With this, we get to focus on thing one is tell a story." As to the plans for Diminuendo once the final polishes are made, Calvert said, "The next step from here will be hopefully finding a sales agent to help connect us with distributors so we can get the movie sold, and then also submitting the film to different film festivals and having a big premiere at one of those film festivals." In the meantime, read more about Richard Hatch's work on Diminuendo at HollywoodReporter.com, follow the movie on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and see a trailer here. Pictured: Richard Hatch and Chloe Dykstra

 
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