by Rich Moreland, October 2015
During my recent trip to LA, I was invited to a Girlfriends Films set by Dan O’Connell who founded the company several years ago. My visit with the crew and performers is in four installments, this is the first.
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Dropping in on a Dan O’Connell shoot is to be surrounded by pulchritude and comeliness, or for those who don’t want their vocabulary expanded, hot girls. When my associate (who is quite a looker herself, I might add) and I arrive, Dan is setting up a take staged in the front yard of the house he is using for this 123rd version of Girlfriends’ popular series, Women Seeking Women.
Vanessa Veracruz’s dark eyes and engaging smile greet us with a “Hi.” The starlet is playfully checking out the faces in the window. My guess is they are part of the story line because Dan likes to spin a plot around the sex. Later we’ll watch Vanessa kneel to pray wearing only her white lingerie for an interesting mixture of sex and religion Dan has in mind for the shoot.
What is striking about this moment (and what follows once we are inside) is how the girls hang around each other as if this were a sorority house. It’s obviously a relaxed atmosphere for everyone.
Leaving the heat of day, we go indoors and quickly meet cinematographer Mike Towers and once again offer a “hello” to Girlfriends’ favorite PA, Sabrina. She was with B Skow when we were on his set a couple of days ago.
Before pairing Dani Daniels and Vanessa in the first sex scene, a brief episode involving a phone call is shot. The crew films it with Dani sitting on a toilet and Vanessa on her bed. The set is really the master bath with an open door to the bedroom so communication is easy between Dan and the girls.
A break is called and Dani readies herself while Vanessa kicks back patiently awaiting the action.
Sabrina and Mike are setting up the lighting which includes Impact flood lights. They demonstrate for me how the lights can be angled to get the effect they are seeking.
No one is hurried, though everyone works efficiently.
The girls are all set, we are quiet, and Dani walks into the bedroom.
“After the first kiss, we’re not going back to the dialogue,” Dan announces softly, then follows with more direction.
He tells Dani to be considerate of Vanessa because of the prayer scene filmed just a short time ago. “Be tender with her,” he says. Then he reminds Vanessa that her character is unsure of what she wants “because of this religious thing” and instructs her to resist Dani’s advances.
Vanessa gets into her role with expressions of reluctance laced with conflicting desires. Doubt versus longing fill her eyes while she offers her submission to Dani.
The curvy lass climbs onto the bed and approaches Vanessa with hushed conversation and wanton looks. Kissing, a Dan O’Connell favorite, follows.
The performers’ caressing and mutual pleasure is so believable that I feel like a voyeur rather than a writer visiting porn set. By that I mean, I have willfully suspended my disbelief, the mark of a powerful scene.
Dani and Vanessa are established adult actresses who understand the dynamics of a girl/girl scene. Dani smiles sweetly, Vanessa rolls her head in ecstasy and the rest of the shoot moves forward with the gentleness Dan wants in this episode. He later explains that “taboo” drives this scene; it’s an internal struggle for Vanessa with her “inner demons pulling her into sex.”
Dani plays the aggressor to a tee, moving catlike over a shy Vanessa.
The actresses are facing Dan who is beside the bed which allows Mike to keep his position near the foot board. The boom tilts above the girls to pick up subtle dialogue.
The scene is like a well-rehearsed musical composition, moving to its conclusion with a kind of rhapsody that good porn is capable of producing, but rarely does.
When we’re finished, I corner Mike and Sabrina for a short course in lighting, learning about balance, shadows, and how to emphasize skin tone.
Dan interjects that “lighting is more important than the cameras you use.”
Cool. Makes a non-camera person like me want to take a pic or two.
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In part two of this day on the set, I get my first look at what sells a porn film, the box cover.