Okay, so I’ve often said that there are only two requirements to be a porn director: A camcorder and a thumb. This assertion is only partly facetious; I suppose reasonable eyesight (you’d have a hard time shooting sex if you were legally blind, I think) and enough attention span to not forget what you were shooting might help (although, according to Steve Holmes, this last doesn’t much impair Chico Wang).

I think attention span was what killed Buck Adams attempt to prove my “camcorder and a thumb” axiom nearly a decade ago when he shot Monkey Gangbang, one of those projects that left the uninitiated with a sense of confusion as to whether it was the stupidest gimmick they’d ever heard of or a brilliantly subtle exploration of the meta-relational aspects of our vaguely sexual connection to our primate ancestors.

Anyone who knows Buck at all can answer that question in a heartbeat (hint: GIMMICK!).

During this shoot, Buck hired three chimps from an animal trainer, put them in a studio with a group of performers who were fucking in a pile, and gave BetaCams to the chimps to shoot the scene. No, really.

One chimp ran away with his, the second thought it was a great toy and spun around with it for a while before dropping it, and the third smashed it to the ground, shattering the lens. So I guess you need slightly more than a thumb and a camcorder. But not by much.

Yesterday, a gonzo company rented our place for a single scene. Normally, this is pretty painless. They show up, fuck for an hour and leave. However, yesterday, the actual director of this video was sick or hungover or couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed or whatever the fuck. So he sent his assistant-chimp-in-training to shoot the scene for him. That’s right, kids. The director — a big name in gonzo — called in sick.

So, The Chimp shows up, nervous, jabbering a mile-a-minute about how he’s not sure what to do, yadda yadda yadda. Being gonzo, he’s got one guy to help him who also doesn’t know Shinola from aspartame. He’s only been lighting for Big Gonzo Director, not “usually” shooting camera (i.e. “I’ve only ever shot BTS). His lighting kit consists of three 4×8 Kinos, the LitePanel they use for C-light, and two DeSisti 575 HMIs that started life in the hands of Sony Pictures and have now made their way onto a porn set.

The Chimp doesn’t know anything about lighting (neither do I, for that matter, but I know I don’t know anything) beyond the one setup he’s been taught by Big Gonzo Director, which is to point the Kinos directly at the action, and bang the HMIs off the ceiling. This, I’m sure, gives Big Gonzo Director the bright, flat, uninteresting “work shirts aisle at K-mart” look all the gonzo boys think is so luscious.

As I watch, astonished and amused, The Chimp proceeds to point his HMIs towards the ceiling. Of our warehouse. Bare wood beams 18′ up rather than the flat, white ceilings of the shag-n-stucco valley houses The Chimp is used to shooting in. But it’s what he’s been trained to do, so he does it, and then wanders around the hot zone where the sex will happen, confused as to why it doesn’t look right.

“Not gettin’ much bounce there, are ya?” says I.

“Yeah…” says The Chimp in response, picking a flea from his furrowed brow and crushing it in his teeth. He looks at me.

“Dude, it’s kinda… dark.”

I shrug and walk away, laughing and crying inside all at the same time, a million different thoughts about artifice and skill and the ruling fist of money all screaming at me. Eventually, when he’d been punished enough, I took pity on The Chimp and lit his scene for him (so not my job, but he reminded me of Roddy McDowall). And then I told him what he should have them fuck on (he hadn’t thought of that… he thought he was going to shoot the entire scene with the girl standing). And then I set up the camera for him. And then I gave him a few bottles of water for his talent because he had forgotten to bring them.

Afterwards, The Chimp comes up to me to tell me how “fucking sick wicked” (is that good? I’m almost forty you little simian) the scene was and how great it’s going to look and he wants to shoot the two other scenes that are left for this movie and he’s going to send me a copy when it’s edited and then he’s gonna cure cancer and on the first day he created the Heavens and the Earth…

And thus, with both a bang and a whimper, another porn director is born unto the world. And I was there to bear witness.

Whatcha think?

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