As we continue to navigate the pandemic, we're thinking about how to produce new spanking content while keeping our cast and crew safe. Is there such a thing as a COVID-safe set when you're shooting spanking porn?
Towards the end of last year, we spent three days filming. One was during the November lockdown and the other two were just before Christmas when we were in Tier 4. Even during lockdown it's legal to travel for the purposes of work if you absolutely can't work from home. My job was to comply with the guidelines to make our indoor workplace as safe as possible.
What does it mean to run a COVID-safe porn set?
Firstly, it means being careful with our behaviours and activities in the days leading up to the shoot, and being transparent with each other about our risk exposure and activity level. Fundamentally, how much activity feels okay before the shoot is up to the cast and crew. This isn't about me prescribing an organisation-wide policy, but about fostering communication between the people who are going to be sharing space, so that everybody in the room is comfortable.
It means preferring to work with people who drive rather than take public transport, to minimise risk exposure.
It means maintaining social distancing wherever possible. When somebody is over your knee of course this isn't possible, but the rest of the time we can maintain a safe distance. Crew can distance from performers.
It means ventilating the space. That might mean having a window open at all times and cranking the heating up to compensate. And we can open the windows wide between scenes to blast as much air through as possible.
It means people wearing face masks if they feel safer doing so.
Face masks in porn
This is a controversial subject. I did a Twitter poll a little while ago asking how people felt about seeing face masks in spanking videos, and I was actually reassured to find that the majority of respondents felt that safety was sexy, and that they were happy to see facemasks in a porn film, because then they can feel comfortable that the performers aren't being placed in undue risk, and are only having as much contact as they're comfortable with.
However, I know for a lot of people, porn is an escape from the real world. I understand if viewers don't want to be reminded about the pandemic when they're watching a fantasy. I also know that for many viewers facial reactions are important, and face masks can make a scene less erotic.
There's no pleasing everyone, and I suspect preferences will vary from scenario to scenario as well as person to person. In some films, a face mask might be a lot less intrusive; in others it might feel more of an impediment, depending on where the emotional charge in the scene comes from.
Dreams of Spanking is founded on principles of consent and performer-centric production ethics. We also try to make films which are aligned with our values in one way or another. I think we have a role to play in modeling good practice. I wear my mask when I'm going to be in contact with people outside my bubble: if I ever go to the shop or if a tradesperson has to come into the house. We won't beat this virus until everyone takes the same level of care. Porn is fantasy, yes, but it can also play a part in normalising mask wearing and making it sexy.
Plus, facemasks open up possibilities for all sorts of hot scenes. How about medical scenarios featuring sexy nurses? Or historical scenes set during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic? When the masks are part of making the setting more believable, it can add to the fantasy rather than intruding on it.
We need to talk
What safety protocols are needed on a given shoot is really up to the people who will be taking the risk. There are lots of things to consider.
I won't shoot with anyone if they've shown symptoms or been in recent contact with someone who has. But other considerations are up to the performers. How vulnerable or susceptible do they feel they are personally, and how at-risk are the people in their bubble? How immune are they - have they had COVID? Have they had the vaccine? If so, how recently? Finally, how big is their bubble, and how porous is it? Can they name everyone in it? Do they know the risk exposure and activity level of everyone they share contact with?
For example, two people who both work from home and socially distance in all other situations will present a lower risk to others than someone who's got a child in school or nursery, or a key worker who can't socially distance at work. COVID safety isn't about me as the director laying down the law, but about asking everybody involved in a shoot to be honest with each other and make an informed decision.
It's similar to the conversations we have before having sex. Before having sex with someone new, or directing a sex scene, the people involved need to talk about their sexual health history, and share any relevant information about their risk factors. They might talk about previous infections, recent sexual activity, and the date of their last negative test result. Armed with this information each individual can then make an informed, consensual, risk-aware decision about how to proceed.
As we navigate this pandemic, we need to talk to each other. This is true in every scenario where we might share air, not just porn sets - but as directors and producers, people making porn have a special responsibility towards the people we employ. As adults we're allowed to take risks if we all agree, but it's crucial that this is done consciously and intentionally - and when money comes into the equation, especially during a time when sex workers are struggling for work, there's a power balance to be aware of. I don't want anyone to feel pressured to shoot in an unsafe way because they feel they need the money. So my job is to create a permissive space which encourages and normalises strict safety protocols, so that performers know that they aren't under pressure to take undue risks.
It's not possible to live a completely risk free life. Following the government guidelines isn't enough to stay completely safe - early years childcare settings remain legal, although they are a significant transmission risk. For myself, my policy is to only take risks that are essential or extremely valuable - wanting to see my friends isn't sufficient reason, but keeping my business above water is. All of us need to inform ourselves about how the virus spreads, and be upfront and transparent with other people about the choices we're making. Who have we seen lately? Have we gone to the shops? Have we sat indoors with someone and talked? What are our childcare arrangements? Who's come to the house lately? Who have the other people in my bubble seen? If performers are going to be working together, all this information needs to be exchanged.
Testing and self-isolating
One option we're considering going into 2021 is suggesting that performers test and self-isolate before shoots. But this is a big burden. Tests cost £100, and in order to give a useful answer you need to isolate for three days before taking it, and then continue to isolate until you get your result and go to the shoot.
If someone lives alone or in a closed bubble, self-isolating might not be a big deal. But for someone who's got a child attending school or nursery, or one member of the bubble works outside the home, it might not be possible. And the expense is a significant one, whoever pays it.
So with all that in mind, as we continue to shoot in 2021 we may sometimes need to mask up.
Does this mean that everything we produce this year will be masked? No. Does this mean we'll stop shooting entirely? Also no. We're planning to shoot, and in a way that keeps our cast and crew as safe as possible. Yes, we have already shot some face masked scenes, which you can expect to see over the coming weeks. Depending on who we're shooting with, sometimes it will be necessary, and sometimes it won't.
Let us know your thoughts! Do our safety precautions sound good to you? Is there anything we haven't thought of? And how do you feel about the idea of face masks in spanking porn? Our first scene with masks comes out this weekend, and we look forward to hearing what you think!
Lana Moon and I have been friends for many years, and we've been talking about shooting spanking films together for a long time. When we decided to make it happen one of the circumstances we needed to navigate was chronic illness. Due to her health Lana can't always predict when she's going to be at her best. I wanted the shoot to be a fun experience, and that meant building in a degree of flexibility. It proved a good exercise for me to stretch myself in the art of relaxing and going with the flow.
We ended up postponing our November shoot two or three times - for my reasons as well as Lana's. Between my kid getting sick, her kid getting sick, and her health needs, it felt like one thing after another. But thanks to the history and trust between us I knew we'd get there eventually. Luckily during lockdown none of us had much else going on, so rescheduling a couple of times wasn’t a problem. I felt very grateful that David Oak, whose house we were shooting at, was so understanding about the changes of plan.
It was a very different way of working than I'm used to. Uncertainty makes me anxious, so I tend to be hyper-organised. I plan in advance exactly what's going to happen, and then I try to stick to the plan as much as possible. But I realised that putting a date in the diary for a month's time was bound to end in failure. Instead Lana and I exchanged daily texts, checking in with each other and pouncing on an opportunity to shoot when one came up.
I ended up packing my shoot bag three times before we actually got there. But in a way, the extra time was good: it gave me the chance to chase down a couple of extra props and costume pieces which made some of the scenes even better.
On the appointed day, Lana and I stayed in close contact. She was feeling good the night before, and that morning said she was a bit wobbly, but game. I got my makeup on, had breakfast and loaded the car before receiving a very upset voice message from her that her health had taken a sudden turn for the worst, and she wasn't sure when she was going to make it.
I tried to think. Should I go ahead to the venue and shoot some solo content, in the hopes that she'd be able to join us later, or stay at home and get some other work done on the basis that the shoot was probably cancelled? I spent some time drinking tea, calming my nerves and thinking it over before deciding to go, and give it a try. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be me and Dave all day or whether Lana was going to be able to join us at all, but either way I hoped we could create some good content.
Dave and I started off shooting a solo film commissioned by a viewer via our customs website. I'd been planning to shoot it by myself the next day at home, but since we had time I thought I'd take advantage of Dave's help with camera and lighting. This worked out really well - the result is a lot better than I could have achieved by myself. That film will go up on Dreams of Spanking in due course, and it's a must-see for fans of curvy bottoms in tight pencil skirts. It's also got some fetish content which I'd never done across before - I love this about shooting customs! - such as humping and grinding on furniture. I'm not even sure if there's a category for that on Clips4Sale, but I found it surprisingly erotic!
Once that was done, it was time to improvise. I was still hoping that Lana would arrive, but she hadn't been able to leave yet. Dave and I decided to use some of the costumes I'd packed, and come up with some new scenarios we could shoot just the two of us.
I had some Victorian-themed costumes with me, so I got dressed up as an old-timey strumpet working in a bordello, revealing far too much thigh and even more cleavage. Dave has a really cool leather saddle in his playroom which is mounted on a stool - just about the right height for straddling the saddle and bending over (funny coincidence, that). "I don't have a plot," I said. "You've got the costume, you've got the saddle - sounds like a scene to me," he said.
We shot a POV scene with me telling my best friend (the camera) about the young stableboy that I had a crush on, gossiping about my fetish for all things equestrian, and my fantasies involving horses and saddles and stableboys. While I was waxing lyrical about how erotic I found all this, I was mounting the saddle and grinding against it. I guess that furniture-humping custom film had put me in a lewd mood!
I ended up self-spanking using a riding crop, swishing onto my bottom, my thighs and my breasts while mounted on the saddle. I was having so much fun that Dave and I were inspired to keep going.
We set up cameras on tripods, and Dave put on a waistcoat and played the bordello owner who comes in and catches me messing around. At this point we both put on face masks, since we couldn't socially distance. We decided not to labour the point, and just imply that this was during the pandemic in 1918 or something like that. I really enjoyed Dave's performance as the sleazy brothel owner who takes advantage of his position and inflicts the punishments which he caught me fantasising about.
He gave me a really hot whipping with the riding crop on my breasts, inner thighs and bottom. At this point I enjoyed a tantalising personal discovery - although my nipples have been uncomfortably sensitive to touch while I've been breastfeeding, it turns out I still I really enjoy having them hit with the riding crop! This was a lovely little gift to take home with me - the joys of having a job where I can be sexually self-expressed. It's so lovely to be able to explore the things that turn me on at work, to write my own scenarios and play with the people I want to play with - and even discover new things about my body and pleasure.
I wasn't ready to take the corset off yet, so we filmed a sequel with the same characters in which my Victorian wench character gets herself into more trouble and faces a more severe punishment. It included this porn career first: the first time I have ever 'lacquered' a leather saddle by carefully rubbing my cunt juice into it with my fingers! Needless to say, I got a hard thrashing for being so naughty.
I think the fates smiled on us for being so resourceful - Lana arrived at 3pm! She was utterly determined and did incredibly well to get herself there, despite the many obstacles in her way. I had to leave at 5pm because of my childcare arrangement, so we had a couple of hours and we were keen to make the most of them.
Lana threw herself into the roleplay. I've had a look at the footage and I can't wait to share these scenes with you. She's a fantastic performer, charming and funny with a beautiful body, and she can take a hard spanking too.
We picked out two scenes to shoot that day, and planned to get together another time to shoot the rest of the films. The first one was a political satire called The Party Whip. Lana played an MP who had defied the whip and voted against party policy in the House of Commons, and I played the Whip who summoned her to my office for the traditional whipping due for this violation of protocol!
Despite the political scenario, I wanted this to be a comedy, and to avoid reminding viewers of the more upsetting issues happening in politics at the moment. The Dreams of Spanking crew had fun brainstorming ideas for crazy legislation, and we settled on a law that exists in one of the southern states of the US, which limits the number of dildos owned per person! It was the perfect choice, and gave Lana the opportunity to passionately defend the right of the individual to own as many dildos as they want. A worthy cause!
We had great fun with it, and Lana looked utterly beautiful during the punishment, outstretched on the dining table with her bottom in the air.
Finally, we filmed a caning scene with Lana on the receiving end. We'd planned a scene for both of us getting spanked together, but it needed both of us to have unmarred bottoms. I was quite marked from the thrashing I'd already taken that day, so instead we did a sequel.
The setting is that Lana and I are going out with Dave's two nephews. We're really hankering for a spanking and trying to get our boyfriends to spank us. They're oblivious and not particularly interested - but Uncle Dave, who we're staying with for the summer, is. The two of us just keep on getting into trouble with him, and he keeps on finding reasons to punish us. It's a traditional uncle/niece dynamic with a fun, consensual twist.
In this episode Lana is home late during lockdown. She's in trouble with Uncle Dave for breaking the restrictions and missing the dinner that he's cooked for her - and when he tells her off, she just gets naughtier and naughtier. An over the knee hand spanking isn't enough to rein in her sassy behaviour, so he bends her over for the cane.
At the end of the day, despite the day's uncertainties I felt very satisfied. Although the day hadn't gone to plan, and I hadn't managed to shoot the six scenes I'd planned with Lana, we had a successful day and filmed some hot additional content. Plus I got to be spanked more than I'd expected, which was no bad thing!
Lana and I planned to reconvene to shoot the other four scenes, as soon as a good opportunity came along. That day came along quicker than I expected. I'll tell you about that in a separate post - and meanwhile keep an eye out for Lana's first official Dreams of Spanking release. I'm really happy to welcome her to the cast!