Our new film Houseboy is a departure from the usual videos on Dreams of Spanking - and most other spanking sites. This is our first attempt at a cinematic short film, aiming for a higher standard of cinematography and storytelling than we are usually able to achieve. I wasn't planning to shoot this way from the start - it came about from a convergence of factors that created the perfect opportunity to try something new.
Casting Tai Crimson
It started last year, when I met an enthusiastically kinky and ridiculously cute young person from San Francisco. He was gorgeous, he loved spanking - he could certainly take it - and he expressed an interest in shooting for Dreams of Spanking. He wasn't old enough at that point to perform in porn, but I said that once he turned 18 I'd be very happy to work with him. We made plans to shoot together when he was next in the UK - which happened to be May 2015, less than a week after his eighteenth birthday. How's that for a coming-of-age celebration?
I normally prefer to work with kinksters who are a little older, simply because I value emotional maturity and experience in the people I shoot with. I think the common fetish for "barely 18" performers in porn is partly based on the idea that young performers are vulnerable, and so it's easier to take advantage of them and push their limits. I find this sleazy and totally unethical, and I'd always much rather work with older players who know their own minds and are able to look after themselves. It's important to me that the performers I hire can take responsibility for their own limits and communication, are experienced enough players to know their bodies and their preferences, and are secure in their decision to appear in fetish porn - because once you've done it, there's no going back.
When I met Tai, however, he exploded all of my preconceptions. Although a teenager, he has a rock solid sense of his kinky identity, and he's been exploring his interest in private for years. He is calm, confident, intelligent, self-reliant, and very emotionally mature. So at eighteen and a few days, Tai officially beats Talia Lane to the position of youngest performer on Dreams of Spanking - and yes, we do have his ID on file to prove it!
We put a date in the diary, and meanwhile Tai and I exchanged emails discussing his interests and preferences. But by March this year, when I needed to start firming up plans, I already knew that ATVOD were investigating Dreams of Spanking and that I was likely to have to stop updating the site for a duration of several months while my appeal was underway. I had lots of scenes already shot starring Fauni, Mike, Talia and David and others which I wasn't going to be able to publish, so there was absolutely no point spending money and energy shooting more material that might never see the light of day.
Towards a cinematic style
Meanwhile, I'd attended the British Fetish Film Festival in February and the Berlin Porn Film Festival last October, and I'd been thinking an awful lot about shooting styles, production values, and the budget and time constraints under which I was shooting.
Over five years I have developed a shoot style that produces one 10-15 minute spanking film per hour, in a remarkably stress free environment, with plenty of breaks. This is based on improvised scenes filmed live by one or two handheld camera operators, with perhaps some close-ups or cutaways to enhance anticipation in the build up to the spanking scenes, but otherwise shot with as few cuts as possible - unless the performers themselves need to cut. Lightweight, consumer-grade cameras make handheld shooting manageable without the camera operators getting too tired, and using auto-focus allows us to get visual variety by roaming around the scene shooting different angles, rather than stopping the action to reset each shot.
This non-disruptive shooting style allows the performers to get into an immersive scene space and stay in character, which helps the roleplay flow more smoothly, and also helps the bottom stay in their headspace and makes the spanking itself easier to take. It's a system that Nimue and I have got down to a fine art, and I was pleased that we'd reached a point where we could create nice-looking films within budget, while maintaining a relaxed and fun shoot environment for everyone involved.
The downside of this low-key shooting style is that the resulting films would never achieve the cinematic quality that I was seeing at the film festivals I was going to. I'd had a couple of films rejected from international festivals, presumably because the videography, audio quality and storytelling wasn't up to scratch. I found myself wanting to level up, and see if with a bit more money, time and effort, I could raise my production values and put Dreams of Spanking on the map as a credible producer of cinema-quality films.
So rather than hire Tai for a day shooting a number of improvised ten minute website updates, I decided to use him to do something different. I booked amazing boudoir photographer Matt Christie to help out with the videography - he'd expressed an interest in shooting video last time we shot together, he has a commercial-grade camera and he also had access to an amazing location perfect for the scenario I had in mind.
I started penning ideas for a single 10-15 minute short film. Not five films, or six films, or seven. Just one.
Developing the story
With Tai, I had an articulate and gorgeous masculine-of-center performer with a submissive streak a mile wide, who loved being spanked. I thought about the films I was seeing at festivals, and the lack of beautifully-shot female/male BDSM films shot from a female perspective, with a male submissive who is both beautiful and interesting, and not just a cipher propping up a sexually objectified female dominant. Instead of this I wanted to make Tai the lust object and protagonist of the film, focussing both the lens on his body, and the story on his character's journey.
I started with a fairly traditional plot - a young man applying for a submissive role in the household of an established mistress. I brainstormed ideas for visual storytelling, thinking about ways to focus the storyline on the tension and anticipation Tai's character feels before he takes the plunge towards fulfilling his submissive desires. I considered ways to create an interesting power dynamic between his character and mine. I quickly realised that I'd need a third performer, another submissive serving the mistress - someone to make his arrival at the house feel more formal and more intimidating.
I'd already talked to my friend Eliza Grey about having her on set as a shoot assistant, helping out behind the camera (she had planned to be with us on our shoot in November, but had sadly been unable to make it). I realised she'd be perfect for the role of a bitchy receptionist, enhancing Tai's nerves before his interview with the Madame... and once I'd cast Eliza, the rest of the story fell into place.
Writing the script
Ten days before the shoot, I was hurrying to finish the script on my laptop on the train. I'd never written lines for characters to say before, and I was finding it surprisingly difficult. I'd write a line, then agonise over it. What if Tai doesn't feel comfortable saying that? What if that's not what Eliza would say? I've always made a political point of not putting words in my performers' mouths, and suddenly that was what I was literally doing. At the same time I was all-too-aware that they were going to need to memorise their lines, and time was running out.
I closed my eyes, wrote some lines telling myself they were only placeholders, and sent it off with an apologetic email saying this was a very rough draft, and inviting them to make any changes they wanted. But my anxiety proved unfounded. In the end, bar one wording change, that script was the one we used - and Tai and Eliza rocked it.
Working with a storyboard
A week before the shoot I was on D's sofa after a fetish party, scribbling a 'storyboard' in biro on A4 paper from his printer while my friends chatted around me. After writing the screenplay I had a strong visual image in my mind's eye of what most of the shots would look like - now it was just a case of creating a visual reference so I could communicate my ideas to Matt on the day. I'd visited Matt's location a week ago, so the rooms were fresh in my mind. It was a useful exercise to think through camera angles and compose the shots, but I'm pretty sure it was the crappiest storyboard anyone has ever worked from. The most hilarious of my terrible stick figure drawings was this sketch of Eliza being spanked over my knee and feeling sad about it:
Professional production all round, innit.
The day of the shoot
The shoot day approached. I bought food and props, looked up travel options, packed suitcases, selected implements, printed scripts and release forms. Shortly before the day I realised that I'd inadvertently booked our shoot on the same day as the London Marathon, and the location we were using was only one block away from the route. That meant that not only would transport potentially be disrupted, but the exterior shots would all have a huge amount of background noise. Still, at this late stage there was nothing to be done about it. I booked an 8am taxi, the traffic at that hour was fine, and I was on set at 9am. Matt and I drank coffee and looked through the storyboard, then Tai and Eliza arrived - and it was all go.
Shooting from a script was a totally new experience for me, and a steep learning curve. I'd worked out the best shooting order, shooting the story in as close to chronological order as possible while minimising room and lighting changes. After that it was just a question of staying calm, following the callsheet and taking it one shot at a time.
I was using an external mic for the first time, and was grateful to have Eliza helping out and sharing the responsibility for making sure the mic was a) close enough, b) not in shot, and c) recording each time. She was also an absolute star helping out with moving lights, checking camera batteries and memory cards, making tea and tidying up behind us. A+++, would work with again. Plus it turned out she could seriously act...
It was a full day, perhaps a bit too full - nerves started to fray after a few hours, and everyone was feeling tired by mid-afternoon. The shoot would definitely have been easier with more camera crew or fewer scenes to fit in. After a few hours, Matt noticed a round smudge in the middle of the lens, and wiped it off - but of course there wasn't time to go back and re-shoot the shots we'd already done. By the time we came to shoot the confrontation between Tai and Eliza in the kitchen, everyone was so tired that that scene took about seven takes. Some of the shots ended up out of focus, and we got through so many cans of tonic that I was worried we'd run out!
Editing the film
Still, despite all that, when I came to look at the footage I was pleased to discover that most of it looked how I'd expected. There were a few surprises in the edit - such as that moment when I realised the reverse shot in one dialogue scene crossed the line and was therefore unusable, and was suddenly grateful that we'd shot three angles of that particular scene, even though at the time it felt like overkill. It was a monster of an edit, but satisfying too, sorting through all the footage, plugging it into place, and seeing how the scenes I'd envisioned in my mind played out on camera.
Choosing the music was another daunting prospect - I knew I wanted to avoid re-using the same creative commons soundtracks that you hear time and time again in indie porn, and that meant spending money. But how to start looking? First I worked out where music was needed - in the intro sequence, the montage, and the closing credits, which meant I needed two or three pieces in total. Then I did a rough edit of those sequences so I had a vague idea of how long the music would need to be. After that, I set a day aside to browse SoundDogs, typing in different keywords and playing pieces with my eyes closed, visualing the film, until I hit on a genre that felt right. I realised that for this story my usual taste in piano and cello-dominated classical and film score music wouldn't work - Tai's character needed something moody and masculine, guitar-led, energetic and driving. Finally I whittled down a selection, downloaded some samples and started laying them over the edit to see what worked.
Primarily, this film was intended to be screened at film festivals - which meant that the narrative would have a different structure than standard spanking films. In a film intended for someone to watch while having a wank, you need a carefully paced build-up and pay-off that sustains uninterrupted shots of climactic spanking action for long enough for the viewer to reach orgasm. In a longer film, there might be two of three of these build-ups and climaxes, separated by character-driven story. But at a film festival, the audience are watching to have their minds stimulated, not their genitals. Fast-paced editing is preferable, providing lots of new visual information with every shot. Explicit sequences need to be edited down to the bare minimum necessary to develop the characters and progress the story. So that was a new challenge: cutting the 15 minutes of high quality spanking action in, for instance, Tai's audition scene, down to the three minutes earmarked for it in the festival edit. The only way I was able to do it was by promising myself that I'd release the full, uncut scene as an extended edition on Dreams of Spanking later. But meanwhile the deadline for the Berlin Porn Film Festival was June 30th, so I had to get the shorter edit finished first...
In the end, thankfully, it was finished in time to submit to Berlin, and I'm hopeful that they'll accept it. I'll be submitting it to various other film festivals over the summer as well. I'm really happy with the finished film, and completely honoured to have been trusted with Tai and Eliza's porn debuts - and thrilled that they had a good time.
And that's a wrap!
It was a really long shoot day. We finished the scheduled shots around 7pm, 10 hours after I'd arrived on set. But then we cracked open the champagne and ended up chatting and buzzing on a total high, which led to another two hours shooting performer interviews, and even a behind the scenes caning for Tai when he confessed he still didn't think he'd been spanked enough...
By the time we finally turned the cameras off, sat down for some supper and tidied everything away, the sun had gone down - and it was 11pm before I finally got into a cab. Matt and I had been on set for fourteen hours, Tai and Eliza for thirteen. I am so grateful to the three of them for their enthusiasm, dedication and professionalism. It was a long fucking shoot and everyone put in so much energy and creativity it was kind of overwhelming. Overall, this production cost ten times as much as an average Dreams of Spanking video, but even so I still came away feeling like I hadn't paid people enough for the amount of work they'd put in.
Overall, this was a very satisfying project, and I'm really happy to have it under my belt. But it also taught me a lot about the trade-off that arises when you move towards a more cinematic shooting style. My previous method gave my performers more breaks, less stress and a much more satisfying kink experience. Shooting Houseboy, we did the bare minimum of spanking needed to get the shots I wanted - and stopping to move the camera, check the focus and lighting, consult the storyboard every few seconds made it hard to get immersed into a satisfying spanking headspace. I'm glad I hadn't scripted any particularly hard spanking scenes, because I think severe corporal punishment would be much more emotionally and physically challenging to take in this context.
I hadn't realised it before, but shooting in a more amateur style results in a much more rewarding experience for the performers - with more opportunity for top and bottom to develop an in-scene chemistry, focus on each other rather than the camera, and time for the bottom to sink into a yummy submissive headspace, without constant distractions.
So what can I take away from this? Well, I've learned that shooting in a cinematic style is something I can do, and that's good to know. I've learned that it's hard work, at least ten times as expensive as my usual shooting style, and considerably more time-consuming to produce and edit. It's also exhilarating, exhausting, and very creatively satisfying. I'm glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and gave it a go, and I'm hopeful that the finished film will be screened in Berlin this year. But I've also learned that I don't want to start shooting this way every time. Perhaps I might be able to put out one cinematic film a year, but this experiment has restored my faith in my usual low-key way of shooting, which it turns out is preferable experience for me and my performers - and a much better environment to ask people to take hard spankings in. Our standard Dreams of Spanking shoots emphasise process over product, and trying something new has re-affirmed my faith in that process.
You can watch the long-play trailer for Houseboy below - and if you're a site member, please watch the full film and tell me what you think - and make sure you also check out the extended editions of Tai's and Eliza's spanking scenes, performer interviews and Tai's off-the-cuff behind the scenes caning.
My personal favourite, however, was the third photoset of the afternoon. Two topless girls in long skirts, velvet, mood lighting. Old books and ink, hand-lettered typography, words on skin. Adele and I have this kink in common. I copied out the first six lines of the Iliad onto her back in the original Homeric Greek, and it was the most peaceful, zen experience I have ever had on a spanking shoot. As the minutes ticked by, no-one spoke a word, PWP moved around us quietly snapping photos, I think she and I both entered a kind of subspace. There was an element of psychological bondage to it; she had to stay perfectly still, or the work would be ruined. And I entered a trance-like state as I lost all my awareness of the camera, and focussed on finishing the calligraphy as quickly and neatly as possible.
I don't know what story these images might tell. Perhaps we are lovers, or witches; perhaps I'm an artist decorating her for some sort of show, or perhaps she's my submissive and I've set her the challenge of stillness and obedience. Perhaps we are students in some strange alternate universe where punishment lines are written not on paper, but on skin.
When AJ sent me the edited photos to look at, my jaw dropped. They are heartbreakingly gorgeous, just as dreamlike and evocative as I had hoped. PWP did an amazing job with these photos, and AJ more than did them justice in post. As I emailed Girl on the Net to let her know they were ready for copywriting, the scenario started to take shape in my head.
This gallery is a visual poem; a lyrical, abstract dream sequence exploring the sensuality of ink on skin. Inasmuch as there's a plot behind them, it's this: Adele must lie still while I write the text on her. Maybe she's my lover and I just like setting challenges for her. Maybe I'm a witch using body-writing to cast a spell. Maybe writing lines on her is my punishment. I wasn't sure, but one thing was clear: if Adele moved, smudging the lettering, she would get a cane stroke for every error.
Girl on the Net took this idea and ran with it. I love the scene description she came up with.
Two topless women are engaged in a sensual game: one plays the canvas and the other the artist. Adele Haze lies on cushions, exposing her breasts and bare back - and it's the latter that her lover will write on. Pandora Blake uses black ink and a brush to adorn Adele with intricate Greek lettering.
As Pandora's calligraphy winds around Adele's gorgeous curves, Adele must stay completely still, hardly breathing to avoid nudging Pandora as she writes her lines. In a Victorian school, ink smudges would mean a punishment for the writer. Here, the responsibility to avoid error falls on the writing surface. Pandora weaves her spell in words, and the magic of the moment mustn't be broken. For each smudge, Adele will get a stroke of the cane.
When the text is complete – the first few lines of Homer's 'Iliad' – Pandora carefully examines her work, stripping Adele naked so she can admire the slick black script that covers her body. Afterwards Adele bends naked over the punishment bench in the Scriptorium, exposing every inch of her bare skin. Pandora's found some smudges, and every error earns Adele a hard cane stroke.
Each cold cane stroke makes Adele yelp, biting her thumb to hold back her cries. But after three strokes the punishment is over, and Pandora can step back to admire her work – the neat black lines of text curving round Adele's beautiful body, and the vivid red welts left by the cane.
I strongly believe that there's a need for more female gaze porn portraying the male body as an object of female desire. Not enough studios, even those ostensibly catering to women, provide a gender balanced gaze and show the men in the same light as the women. As a woman who is attracted to men, I can tell you that when I look at porn, I want the men to be beautiful and sexy, and I want the camera to linger over their physique, and show me their facial expression, the look in their eyes. I don't want to see faceless men or disembodied bums and cocks. I want men I can drool over: strong arms that make me shiver in anticipation, backs I can imagine caressing, jaws I can imagine kissing.
This is all the more important when it comes to submissive men, who are often misrepresented as the least sexy of kinky people. The reality couldn't be further from the truth - and no-one is better suited to demonstrating this fact than the drop dead gorgeous Will Savage.
The Baroness is expanding her household, and her girls are brought in to help initiate the new houseboy. The ladies inspect his physique and his capacity to take punishment without complaint. Amelia uses her skill with rope to bind Will in a flattering tie that accentuates his toned buttocks, and Caroline and the Baroness both take a turn spanking him with hand and leather strap to see how he reacts.
It seems that the new boy meets the Baroness' high standards, as finally she instructs Amelia to tie him to the coffee table as a decorative ornament, with his reddened bottom on display for all the house to see.
Ahhh, I love my work.
I was delighted when this scene was picked up by the female gaze porn blog Birds Eye View, which aims "to create a space that prioritises erotic female spectatorship, male objectification and female sexual pleasure" - exactly what I am trying to do with the male spankee material on Dreams of Spanking. I hadn't heard the phrase "female spectatorship" before, but this CFNM scene has it in spades.
When I was coming up with scenes for this shoot, I'd been obsessed with the idea of bottom bondage for months. I couldn't get out of my head the image of rope separating and sliding between my cheeks, perhaps a cunningly hidden knot pressing against my most secret place. I loved the thought of bottom bondage that looked like breast bondage, rope tightening around each buttock, compressing them until they swell and throb, and making them all the more sensitive to the attentions of a paddle or cane. Sadly, the latter is not physically possible - our gluteal muscles are attached to the body in a fundamentally different way to breasts, and there is nothing for the rope to tighten behind. But when I described my idea of combining bottom bondage and spanking to Amelia, she designed a beautiful, sexy tie that enclosed Will's toned buttocks, accentuating them and making them seem all the more vulnerable.
None of Amelia's rope experience had prepared her for the newness of tying a male body (there's that gender imbalance again!) but she confronted the challenge face-on... as it were. I will never forget the matter-of-fact way she knelt down in front of Will and said, "Right then: what are we going to do about your cock?"
Check out the full scene page for more hilarious behind the scenes moments - and even, in the members photogallery, some full frontal shots of the cock in question, bondage and all!
The scene ends with the lovely Caroline Grey taking a hand in the new houseboy's initiation, before the very well-spanked Will is securely tied over the coffee-table, as decoration for the Baroness' house. If the three of us look rather pleased with ourselves as we admire our new ornament, that's because we were enjoying the view immensely. Human furniture - and female spectatorship - at its finest.
Our latest photoset, Dominance and Submission, is from my shoot with D and Matt Christie in July last year. I'm remiss in still not having previewed the other scenes we shot that day, but I'm going to make up for it today by sharing a bumper load of free photos from this new gallery.
I wanted to create some iconic male dominant, female submissive imagery, exploring themes of clothed male/nude female, bondage, human furniture and objectification, erotic breast teasing and whipping, nurturing dominance, throat grabbing and breath play, as well as corporal punishment with leather belt and crop. The depth of my connection and chemistry with D provided the ideal opportunity for these explorations, and Matt's trademark evocative imagery bathed in warm, soft light perfectly set the scene. I love every single photo he took, and had difficulty picking out just a few for the thumbnails on the scene page. I'm so delighted with Matt's photography that I just can't resist the urge to show you more here.
Cuffed and collared, naked and vulnerable, she kneels and waits.
She kneels at his feet and he tells her to open her legs - wider - wider. She obeys. He squeezes her nipples and her breasts, wraps a cool hand around her throat.
He arranges her on hands and knees and uses her as a footstool. She is aware of the weight of his feet resting in the small of her back; breathing in and out, concentrating on posture, poise, stillness. Back arched, bottom raised. When she feels the crop land sharply across her upturned buttocks she cries out. She flinches, she can't help it, but as soon as she realises it she arches her back again. Her bottom feels exposed, sensitive. The position is not easy to maintain as he whips her, but she does her best.
Cool hands soothe and squeeze her throbbing skin; their kisses are heated. She kneels to present her bottom again, offering herself to the belt, and he paints her cheeks red.
He does not need to use words to tell her she is his. Serene in her surrender, she lets him direct her, trusting that whatever she does, she will be safe with him. He plays her body like an instrument. Even the pain, when it comes, is a treasured gift, a sign of love.
I'm a little bit in love with the music in our newest film. I had a lot of fun editing this one, not least because that combination of powerful classical cello with more industrial rhythms is guaranteed to get me wet, regardless of whether it's accompanied by any sexy visuals. I don't know why, something about the vibrations perhaps. But it doesn't hurt that Amelia Jane Rutherford looks utterly gorgeous writhing under splashes of hot red wax:
The movie is called Pandora's Initiation, and is episode one of our new BDSM/spanking series, The Morpheus Club.
New slavegirl Pandora is nervous, untrained and intimidated by the experienced Amelia. She endures bondage, nipple clamps, humiliating inspections and punishment, culminating in a painful double caning.
So much happens in this 37-minute BDSM epic that there was no hope of me squeezing it all into the short scene description above. I decided to focus on my character's journey, but you only need to look at the tag list or trailer to get a sense of just how much else is packed into this movie. (The tag list is so long it almost breaks the page layout!)
Specifically, the scene description fails to mention any of Amelia's myriad kinky activities, including gruelling slavegirl postures, strapping, spanking, hot wax and a flogging on her back and bottom - all of which she submits to with sublime grace and poise.
This is one of my oldest fantasies. It's got a dark non-consensual edge (the implication that my character has consented to be enrolled in this establishment out of desperation, rather than because she is kinky) but otherwise it's absolutely classic. The idea is not original in the slightest: this scene has echoes in dozens of erotic novels.
I'm honoured to have had the help of the talented Hywel and Amelia in bringing this fantasy to life, and indebted to Hywel for his expertise behind the scenes, particularly in taking over the direction from me to allow me to concentrate on performance.
In our version of this classic concept, the Morpheus Club is an underground society with a faintly historical flavour. Members are kinky men and women with a range of tastes; all of them top, and some of them switch. Male and female 'pets' are recruited by fair means or foul - some are the equal partners of members who give full consent; others have less choice in the matter. Members have equal access to all pets, and training is undertaken collectively, but new pets are often mentored by their recruiter. As a natural consequence of the cast, this scene is pure M/F, but there's more to the Morpheus Club than that, and we'll see more of it in future episodes.
For me, the hottest parts during filming were the inspections, both kneeling before the Doctor, and exposed on all fours on the table with my new employers dispassionately discussing my body and reactions. That moment is the hardest part of this scene for my character, and undoes some of the confidence she gained during the bondage. This was the first time I'd played with Hywel (exciting!) and my nervousness about whether he'd find me pleasing was quite real. But I also had a lot of fun with the nipple clamps, slave training, picking things up in my teeth, and watching my handsome boyfriend flog beautiful Amelia. And, of course, the spankings!
Watching the finished film back, more things leap out at me. Amelia's hot wax sequence is one of the most glorious pieces of D/S play I've ever had the privilege to film. Her grace is just astonishing, and the genuine chemistry between her and Hywel is a joy to watch. Oh, and there are quite a lot of shots of both Amelia and I crawling on all fours with our bottoms in the air, which I hope some of you will enjoy.
You can find more of Hywel and Amelia's work at Hywel's bondage website Restrained Elegance, where Amelia is the resident slavegirl as her alter ego Ariel Anderssen. They have also made several bondage and spanking feature films which can be found at Elegance Studios. Their work is artistic, imaginative and beautifully executed, with the highest production values of any kinky studio in the UK. Spanking fans will particularly enjoy their domestic discipline movie Amelia's Sunday Spanking, which I've reviewed on my other blog here.