IXFF Filmmaker Interviews! Part One: Benjamin Williams and Zan Christensen
We caught up with a couple of finalists for the Good Vibrations Indie Erotic Film Fest, and asked them about their films that will be premiered at the short film competition at the Castro Theatre on September 23rd (for more details and tickets, visit www.gv-ixff.org). This is the first filmmaker interview in the series, and today we visit Benjamin Williams and Zan Christensen from Seattle, Washington. Their film, “THE FILTH ELEMENT will be making its San Francisco debut next month at the festival.
How did you find out about Good Vibrations Independent Erotic Film Festival?
Benjamin: One of my actors, the fabulous performer Sylvia O’Stayformore, showed our film to Peaches Christ, blessed be her name, and she clued me in to her hometown erotic film festival. (There might have been threats of violence involving high heeled boots should I fail to submit our movie.)
If this is your first film, did it come out like you anticipated?
Zan: I helped a little on Benjamin’s first sci-fi porn extravaganza\’a sendup of David Lynch’s “Dune” called DOUCHE: DRY AND SANDY\’but THE FILTH ELEMENT is the first erotic film I’ve worked on in any major capacity. We had a great collection of really talented people working on it\’onscreen and off\’so I knew we’d make a good film, but the end result by far exceeded my expectations.
What do you hope audiences will get from your work?
Benjamin: A lot of laughs and a tingly feeling in their pants.
Who are your stars, and how did you meet them/invite them to participate?
Benjamin: Everyone who worked on this movie either helped out with the first film or were friends of theirs. For DOUCHE, it was a great mix of friends, Craigslist ad respondents, and local Seattle performers that didn’t mind me cold calling them and pleading that they be in my movie.
Were there any funny or unexpected moments while filming?
Benjamin: Oh, definitely. Sylvia is an amazing singer and comedienne but, bless her heart, not an expert at memorizing sci-fi dialogue. We’ve got a hilarious string of takes of her monologue which tries to explain the plot of the original “Fifth Element”. To be fair, that might stump just about anyone.
Zan: The whole gag reel is hysterical; combine sci-fi and sex acts and you’re going to get a lot of crazy outtakes. I particularly like Christopher’s reactions as he’s covered with cold alien spooge.
What is your favorite sex toy to use in a film?
Zan: We got to use a variety of awesome dildos in THE FILTH ELEMENT, but they didn’t make it inside any of our cast. Strictly there for looks! My favorite was the big, black one, for pure heft.
Benjamin: The black one! Yes! You don’t see it for long, but it’s a cone-shaped monster that gets alarmingly wide at the base.
What advice would you give to first-time erotic filmmakers, or filmmakers in general?
Benjamin: Communication is key. You may know exactly what you want in your head, but you’ve got to be able to get that idea across to your actors, the camera person, and especially the post-production folk. Be as up-front about what you want as you can.
Zan: Start with something bite-sized, then work your way up to a longer and more elaborate piece. And with festivals, you can never be sure whether your effort will make it into the show, so make sure you create something that can have a life beyond that venue.
How does the film you submitted reflect your views on sex, and was there anything you learned in the process of making the film?
Zan: Sex doesn’t have to be all intense and serious; you can find time to laugh and have fun with it and still have it be hot and steamy.
Benjamin: You definitely learn how to manage your time and other people doing projects like this. It’s crazy trying to schedule and coordinate that many gay men. It’s like herding cats, I swear!
What projects are you working on now/next?
Zan: I just launched a publishing company called Northwest Press which publishes queer graphic novels and comics collections. The first project is TELENY AND CAMILLE, Jon Macy’s graphic novel adaptation of the erotic Oscar Wilde novel. It’s a major work\’240 pages of breathtaking artwork\’and I’m so glad to be helping Jon reach an audience for it. You can find out more about it (and read the full first chapter!) at NorthwestPress.com.