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DIRECTORS CHAIR: an interview with de-railed filmmaker Quinn Cassidy

de-railed collaborator Quinn Cassidy answers our spotlight interview via video. (Thanks to volunteer @vian_yo for the transcription.) Listen or read what Quinn has to say about the bike and maintenance education-inspired film, and then watch de-railed for yourself!

 

 

Hi, Pink & White. This is interview number two, so three, two…

[Quinn counts down from three on fingers.]

Hi, my name’s Quinn Cassidy. I’m a Bay Area-based sex worker, sex performer, independent pornographer, and student at a local college. I, last year, helped produce a film – an erotic short called de-railed – which is now being hosted on Pink & White: Video on Demand, which you can find at PinkLabel.TV. Pink & White has asked me a few questions about the production of the erotic short, and I’m here today to answer them. Great; let’s get started.

Question number one: how did de-railed come to be, was it a collaborative project, and how did the idea originate? Well, de-railed is a film about a master bike mechanic and a bike novice. The novice comes into the shop and learns how to align his derailleur and, in the process, befriends the bike mechanic, and they engage in – you know. Well. [laughs] The porn framework, as it goes, the narrative porn framework is lead-up lead-up lead-up, and then…they fuck, you know? [laughs] So yeah, they’re working on the bike and eventually they get a little more enthralled with one another than the bike itself, and you can imagine the rest, so check it out to see the whole story.

The reason that there’s a bike involved is because de-railed originated as a production for Bike Smut. Bike Smut is a travelling erotic film festival that focuses on the intersection of bicycles and sexuality, or “bike sexuality.” It’s the lovechild of Poppy Cox, who is a sex worker who travels the world – I don’t know if she’s necessarily based out of anywhere – and her partner and dear friend Reverend Phil. They’ve been working on this project for quite some time, and Poppy came to me looking for me to produce a boy-on-boy action scene for Bike Smut. When she came to me, I was a little apprehensive because of where I was at in terms of school – finals were coming up, there was a lot of stress on my plate – but it was something that I really wanted to do, and I decided to take it on. Poppy and I met up at one of my favorite brunch places in Oakland, and we started hashing out the ideas: what we wanted it to look like, what the concept was. She basically convinced me to take on this project, and I was really happy to do so.

We hashed out the idea of the mechanic and the novice from experiences that I’d had in the Bay Area myself. Being a cyclist and a bike mechanic novice myself, I had gone to a number of Bay Area bicycle resources. Here in Oakland we have the Bikery, Spokeland, a number of other places, and of course there’s countless bike co-ops and shops and workshops, et cetera, in San Francisco. Here in the Bay, we’re very privileged with a lot of different kinds of bike resources, which I was happy and excited to take advantage of. Having gone into these places, I would fall under the tutelage of bike mechanics that I often found very sexy [laughs] because there’s nothing sexier to me than competency [laughs]. Sometimes it was a little bit difficult for me to focus on the task at hand in terms of fixing the bike itself because the mechanics were so damn sexy [laughs]. So this is sort of the departure point, if you will, for the creation of de-railed.

So we hashed out the concept, and by the time we left that restaurant, we had some dates locked down, and the next couple weeks I met with – thanks to the magic of social media, found – Creamy Coconut, who wanted to help develop the project and produce the project.

Creamy Coconut is a Bay Area-based independent pornographer as well, and she came to my house and we developed a framework where Creamy brought a sort of educational aspect of the film, where – yes, we were going to have this aspect of teacher/student, but in line with that, in addition to that, we were going to incorporate the audience into a teacher/student relationship as well, where we actually have succinct direction on how to fix a bike derailleur.

Creamy Coconut’s trademark is surreal education, so definitely while everyone seemed turned-on, they’re learning a thing or two about how to fix their bike – so we were really excited to incorporate that into the creation and the concept of the piece.

 

 

In the next couple weeks, I wrote a script, I got a shot list together, found a location thanks to connections through Poppy Cox and Creamy Coconut. We found a warehouse, an art warehouse in Oakland called Flava Pack. We met up at Flava Pack the night before, set-up the set, got everything ready, and then the next day had everyone show up on set and busted it out in less than four hours. It was a really good experience.

In terms of collaboration, it was a collaborative project from the get-go. The impetus for the project was sparked by Poppy Cox, who wanted to see more boy-boy action in her film festival. She came to me, she lit the fuse, and then I was able to incorporate Creamy Coconut into the production. Creamy, as I said, brought an educative approach and also a pansexual approach in incorporating Poppy into some of the sex scene and, through that, making the sex seem really casual, really fluid, familiar, comfortable. And then, of course, through production and particularly through post-production, Creamy really took a lot of the reins, and between her and I, we were able to create something beautiful.

One thing I love about producing media is that it’s always a collaborative effort. You could never create a film just as a director, you could never create a film just as a DP or director of photography, you could never just create a film as a set producer, scene designer, or talent. It’s always a collaborative project from concept to execution to post to distribution and promotion. It takes a team. It was absolutely a collaborative project from the beginning, even from the impetus, of the desire of it to be created through Poppy’s request. So I’m glad she came to me that May in 2013, and here we are, a little over a year later.

Let’s see… How did we cast for the film, philosophies behind casting and performing. How we cast for the film – originally, we had an actual bike mechanic casted as the bike mechanic [laughs], and that’s Jessie Sparkles, who’s a friend of mine out of Seattle, Washington. He’s a sex worker, BDSM practitioner… [Quinn pauses and reaches for touchpad.] Oh, my goodness. [Quinn rises from seat and exits frame, then returns and with a wireless keyboard.] Sorry about that. The screen went blank, so let’s start over.

How we casted for the film – well, originally we had an actual, experienced bike mechanic casted as the bike mechanic. Jessie Sparkles, who is a sex worker out of Seattle, Washington, and a dear friend of mine, originally was supposed to play the master bike mechanic. He was coming down, we had it all set up, but unfortunately his travel plans fell through. But also, fortunately for us, having lost our bike mechanic, we looked for other performers who could fill the position. I tapped the Bay Area sex worker resources that I have and found Sebastian Keys.

Sebastian is a queer man, lives in San Francisco, is a prolific performer, has done a lot of work with Kink.com, he’s now a director for Kink.com – so he jumped on the project last-minute and was really excited about it, and we were really excited to have him because he’s just such a talented performer.

Between him and Joey Utah – Joey Utah was on-board from the beginning. He was actually at the brunch that I had with Poppy where we were actually conceptualizing the idea. He’s a friend of mine, a personal friend of mine and was doing a lot of performance for productions I was doing at the time. Between him and Sebastian Keys, when it came to casting, it’s really important for me to have mutual interest/attraction between the performers. We sent photos of each performer to one another, and they were down, they were on-board, they were really excited to perform together. From there, we locked in casting, and less than a week later, everybody was on set and ready to go.

In terms of performing or directing for de-railed obviously there was minute directing when it came to the lead-up to the sex scene, because there were lines, there was a shot list, there was a concept, there were motivations, characters, et cetera. From there, we needed the performers to take on the motivation of those characters. When it came to the sex scene itself, I incorporated – or utilized, rather – a performance style that is very common in the queer porn community, and that’s sort of a hands-off approach. The reason being that, while you can give a performer a character to step into with the motivation and a personality and lines, et cetera, a step-by-step approach, and they are able to develop or transform their concept of that character through their performance – when it comes to sexuality, I don’t really feel like the director has a place to dictate how a performer’s able to perform their sexuality because the director can’t have a concept or develop a concept of what the performer’s sexuality should be.

When it came to the actual sex scene, we did what I always do on set, which is have the performers take five or ten and have a conversation about their turn-ons, turn-offs, what they wanna do in the scene, how they wanna fuck, what they’re feeling in that moment, how they wanna come, if they wanna come – all of these things that really they have agency around and the director does not.

As a director, I had agency around what kind of shots we needed, I had agency around what the characters were like prior to the sex scene, but when it came to the sex scene, really the ones who are doing the directing in terms of the performance are the performers. In terms of practical directing during the sex scene, obviously the director and the camera people, the DPs, have agency in terms of, like, “Okay, can you guys turn this way in order to get this light source on you,” or “maybe move this hand so we can get the view of the lens into this particular position,” but in terms of the acts that the performers are doing, it’s really up to them, their agency and their consent.

From there, we had spectacular things born out of that performer-induced sex scene – or performer-directed sex scene, rather – such as the kicking of the bicycle pedal when the wheel starts spinning when Joey Utah’s being fucked, and his leg goes up on a bicycle and he starts kicking, and the wheel starts spinning with the same momentum he’s getting fucked with. That was totally improv; that just happened on set. And that’s the beautiful thing about not directing a sex scene, is letting the beautiful things from chaos spawn out of the moment, things that people couldn’t even imagine or dream up. These are things that the performers feel naturally in the moment or get an idea of in the moment.

Also, Joey Utah has Tourette’s Syndrome in real life, and that was something that of course we didn’t want to hide because that is a really authentic or real part of his sexuality on a daily basis. Tourette’s is in line with adrenaline levels, so when he’s having sex his adrenaline spikes and it dives and it does all these crazy things like it does in all of us, but through Joey that comes out through tics. So when you’re hearing him say “no, no, no, yeah, yeah” [laughs] or when he’s snapping and his hand flies off, these are visceral sparks of energy that are authentic to Joey’s sexual experience in his everyday life. These are the things that we wanted to highlight but also not fetishize or tokenize. They’re just an authentic moment of this person’s sexual experience and human condition, and they’re something that should be respected, documented, and given the space that they deserve.

That’s our philosophy that we did in terms of the sex scene, and it produced something absolutely fantastic. In my own personal opinion, I think that these moments of chaos and doing a documentary style and being able to capture these moments – even if it means a little bit more stress in terms of the person who’s shooting – is absolutely worth it in terms of the performers’ consent and experience. It tends to be less pressure for the performers, so it’s better for the performers and, honestly, in my opinion, I think it’s better for the content. I think it feels a lot more visceral, a lot more tangible for the viewer, and the things that are able to develop, like I said, out of those unpredictable moments are really astounding.

Where has de-railed screened? de-railed has screened all over the United States, thanks to Poppy Cox, Rev. Phil, and Bike Smut. They’ve gone from city to city, coast to coast, and through the heartland of America [laughs] showing this hardcore gay porn scene, and I’m so grateful for it. Creamy Coconut decided to submit de-railed to CineKink in 2013, where we won the Bring It! Award, which is the audience choice award. I was a little surprised [laughs] and very honored and very grateful to Creamy for taking that on, the submission. Now we’re so honored to have it on pinklabel.tv, Pink & White: Video on Demand, and hopefully it will continue to go other places. I think we’re going to be sending it to a couple more erotic film festivals and see where it goes.

My work – well, right now I am in the final year of my time in college [laughs], so I’m not producing a whole lot of content, though a little bit here and there. I shoot freelance work for alternadudes.com and dirtyboyvideo.com, so if you wanna see any of my freelancing work you can log onto those sites, check it out. I also have a short film, a kinky erotic short that I’m filming in Seattle this summer which will hopefully be accepted and debuted at HUMP! Fest 2014 this coming November, so keep an eye out for that.

My name is Quinn Cassidy: you can find me on Twitter at @xquinncassidyx; you can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/quinncassidy510; you can find me on Tumblr, quinncassidyblog; and find me all over the internet fucking [laughs], which I love. Thanks for watching, and check out de-railed on Pink & White: Video on Demand, PinkLabel.tv. Thank you.

[Quinn pauses and types.]

All right, that should be good.

Read Creamy Coconut’s Interview, and watch de-railed on PinkLabel.tv.

Posted June 28, 2014

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