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Interview-Transcript Jennifer Lyon Bell

Für eine Untertitelung und Übersetzung unserer Videos auf unserem neuen Video-Channel (Vimeo und Youtube) fehlen uns leider (noch) die Kapazitäten, und in der Text-Box unter den Videos ist nicht genug Platz. Deswegen könnt ihr hier das Interview nachlesen, erstmals nur auf Englisch –

Interview with Jennifer Lyon Bell

Question 1

Lux
How did you come up with the idea to do Porn?

Jennifer Lyon Bell
Well, I guess two reasons: One is, when I was in High School, I guess, I just felt really comfortable talking about sex, so people would often come to me with their sex-questions and my mom had told me, that if I had any questions, or my friends had any questions, she would find me the answer without judging us. And so I let that be known and I really liked being able to help people that way. And, you know, us being able to support each other. So, I feel like that’s kind of related to my decision to do porn, but also, when I first saw porn, I thought it was very exciting on principal and I liked the idea of women being able to see something that really turns them on, but even though it was a little bit of a turn on, for the most part I did not like what was out there and I kept waiting, like year after year, like looking to see what’s available and I rented porn all the time and I just never saw something that really worked for me for more than two minutes. So, I’d looked for the two minutes that worked for me and thought this is ridiculous. Eventually, I thought, if no one else is going to make what I like then I should make what I like. And maybe other people would like it, too. And that has turned out to be true.

Question 2

Lux
How did you find your actresses/actors for it?

Jennifer Lyon Bell
There was nobody who worked in this area. I was completely figuring it out myself, so I did a lot of postering. This was 2004, there weren’t so many internet places you could go in The Netherlands, where I live, there wasn’t a big actor website. There were fewer places where you could post to find theater or film actors. There was one, a film site, I posted on, but I did a lot of physical posters and took them to film schools, theater school, dance schools, circus schools, performance, art training places, because those were the kind of people that I was looking for. And I said: Hey, if you feel like your art could accommodate what we’re doing here then give me a call. And I really got great responses. Because, I was also shooting in English, I also posted on some expatriates websites and I’m sure most of the people on expatriates websites were like “What the heck?! What is it that she wants?” But that was really important that I’d be able to do it in English. But I got some great responses. One of the things that I learned was that people from the trained theater or film community have already thought a little bit about porn and how they don’t want to do it sometimes, so there were a lot of people who saw my ad and specifically did not call. But people who were performance artists or dancers, they were much more flexible about what they could accommodate with their performance, so that was really exciting to see. I was very happy with how it turned out: one ballet dancer, one mainstream theater performer that worked out really good.

Question 3

Lux
I think in Berlin a lot of productions are low budget or no budget. How did you do your finance for your first projects?

Jennifer Lyon Bell
I had had a previous career. I worked in advertising and I saved up a little money, when I moved to The Netherlands and I basically used my savings to do it.

Lux
Like all the others.

Jennifer Lyon Bell
Yeah, I mean, I have to say, being a filmmaker right now is the worst. I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody getting involved in film, if there is anything else they could do. Only if you have no choice at all and this is like your true love, which this is for me, and you can’t do anything else, because it’s difficult right now. Distribution has changed, piracy is taking a huge bite out of all kinds of films, but particularly out of porn and erotic film, so it’s a really difficult time, but I’m completely independent right now, so it’s really challenging to make ends meet and get people paid on my films, because I really would like to pay everybody on the production, even if I have to ask them to take a rate that’s lower than they would normally take for a commercial service, like sound post production or whatever. But I try to pay everybody. I definitely pay the performers and I just try to make it work.

Question 4

Lux
How much is one porn production?

Jennifer Lyon Bell
Well, I mean, it really varies, but thousands and thousands of Euros. ‘Silver Shoes’ should have cost well over 50’000 Euros but I got so many discounts from people who really believed in this project, so they were willing to do stuff for cut rates. But it was still thousands and thousands and thousands of Euros. I would like to say, right now, a lot of porn, particular the alternative performers, are starting to talk publically about, kind of putting a meme out there, in the world, that, if you like alternative porn please think about paying for it, because we totally understand how tempting it is to download stuff illegally, but we’re not big companies. Often, we’re just one person, like me. So, if there’s performers you like or labels that you like and you do like their work, consider buying some of it, even buying DVDs for gifts or whatever, just to keep us afloat, because there’s nobody who’s going to step in and save us if we go bankrupt and I already know some people who’ve had to stop because they just couldn’t make it work. And so many mainstream porn companies won’t represent us either, because we’re not fitting in the traditional genres or we have body types that they are not interested in and we have to work twice as hard as anybody else. So, yay, pay for some alternative porn!

Question 5

Lux
How is your kid dealing with the stuff you do? You talk about it at home?

Jennifer Lyon Bell
She is really little. She’s still four. She knows about basic sex education, she knows parts of the body and how babies are made. Mainly through this great Cory Silverberg book called “What makes a baby?” which is a new queer and trans friendly book about baby-making. It’s really nice. That’s actually her favorite book. A lot of the ideas that I have around sex-positivity are grounded in a book like this and so I can build as it comes up. At this age, she doesn’t know about sexual feelings, but she does know about romantic feelings, because that’s a feature of all movies that she looks at. She is starting to connect the dots a little and she knows that mama makes movies that are for grownups and she doesn’t question that. She knows there’s plenty movies for grownups that she has no interest in. My hope is to raise her with the values that are important to me, which are about appreciating your body and having joy in the things that you could do, at sports and getting your back scratched by somebody who loves you. And that when she’s older and she does start to have more of sexual feelings, that she’ll be able to have a nice, appreciative relationship with her own body and respect for her own body and that will really serve her when she starts negotiating with other people for stuff that she likes.

Question 6

Lux
Do you have a new project?

Jennifer Lyon Bell
I do! I kind of have ongoing projects, so right now, I have finished shooting a BDSM documentary, following the real life coming out story of a friend of mine, who is a feminist and is submissive and at first thought that that was not okay – to be a feminist and submissive – but then realized that that was totally okay, but because she was looking for a guy she didn’t know how to find a man-dominant that would be feminist and cool and give her exactly what she wanted in terms of the BDSM experience that she wanted. So we went on this journey together and we went to her first party and her first class and it’s a really exciting story. And at the end, she meets somebody and it turns out not to be a guy. The first half of the movie is kind of a classic documentary and the second half is an almost real-time experience between her and this woman that she found and it’s really touching. The only thing is it’s not done yet, so I’m trying to race a little bit of money so that I can get a great editor to help me with it. We have four years of footage that we’re trying to condense down into a watchable movie. But I’m really excited about that. It doesn’t really have a name yet. It’s the ‘Untitled BDSM erotic documentary’. And then I have a fiction film that I’ve been writing, which will be set in Amsterdam with a lot of exterior shots in Amsterdam, because it is the most beautiful city and I never shoot exteriors, because first of all the weather could get in the way but also because shooting explicit stuff, you want to not put people on film who haven’t agreed to be there. So, managing the environment is really complicated but it’s crazy not to shoot in Amsterdam. I’m really excited to do that.

Question 7

Lux
And do you do a Kickstarter or something maybe for funding the movies?

Jennifer Lyon Bell
Well, strictly speaking, Kickstarter and Indiegogo don’t allow projects like mine. It is possible to circumvent it by being very vague in your description as to what it is and hoping that Indiegogo and Kickstarter don’t notice and then just marketing it to your friends, telling them what the project really is. That’s a possibility for me. There are also a couple of crowdfunding platforms that are local to particular countries where they aren’t prejudice. The German one, because there was at least one project funded here and there is a Dutch one, which is a film-crowdfunding-site called Cinecrowd and we’ve been talking about doing some crowdfunding there. That would be great, particularly for this new fiction-feature, which will have a lot of exterior stuff and it’s going to be a big production. I really love to do it right. So, we’ll see.


Question 8

Lux
If you had a lot of money, what would you do?

Jennifer Lyon Bell
I would definitely be doing basically exactly what I’m doing now, just better and paying everybody more. Once, when my family members asked me, if I had all the money in the world, what would I do, I’d basically do this, just better, because I really love what I do. But in terms of what specifically, I really don’t know. I’d do this new film but I’d do it right. And really take my time with the casting, because it takes a lot of energy and time and money to go and meet people and try to find the correct people. It would be really exciting to have that. And it would also be really exciting to be able to work with performers from different countries on my schedule. Because, right now, if I want to work, for example, with a performer from Australia, like in ‘Silver Shoes’ – one of the performers, Liandra Dahl, lived in Australia – and I couldn’t fly her back on my convenience. It just wasn’t possible. Whereas, if I had all the money in the world, I’d be like: “Great! I like you from Spain, I like you from Australia, I like you from San Francisco, come right over!” And I think in a way that would be my biggest change to my production, because right now, the timing is very strange, because it’s based in part on the schedule of the performers and when I can get them. So, I think, probably the biggest change is I would have exactly the people I wanted, when I wanted them, if I had all the money in the world. Or, got an airline sponsor! Can we get an airline sponsor for the alternative porn and erotical world? I know I would really value that as would many of my friends. So let’s work on that!


Question 9

Lux
What are your criteria for being in your porn as an actress/actor?

Jennifer Lyon Bell
If you love your body and you love sex, I am totally up for working with you. I don’t have any criteria about what you need to look like. You don’t have to be cis. You don’t have to be skinny. You don’t have to be weight. You don’t have to be able-bodied. Whoever is syked about who they are and wants to be part of showing it as part of this piece of art, I’m totally up for it. As people hear more about Blue Artichoke and they see what I do, they decide, this is something that I believe in. I’m now getting more diversity in the people that apply and the people that have the chance to audition. But really it’s mostly about ‘do you understand what I’m trying to do? And are you willing to be vulnerable in this process, because this is not like making a different kind of porn or acting where you can just like be really good at the job but take a detached approach – you really have to put something of yourself in it or we’re not going to make anything good.’ I think I have a really good eye for casting. Sometimes I just have a feeling there’s something about that person that’s good. And I have to take a lot of risks. Like, on ‘Headshot’, for example, the guy that I worked with had never done anything pornographic before, he could have easily at the last minute said ‘You know what? This is not my cup of tea. It’s over.’ Everybody who doesn’t have porn experience could easily say ‘This isn’t for me.’ at the last second. And I would be out a lot of time and money. But, you know what, it hasn’t happened yet and I don’t know if I’m just really lucky or if my process is good but I think everybody so far is having a nice time. I hope that continues that way.

Thank you Jennifer Lyon Bell!

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