To the cine-snob, there is no place for pornography in the discussion of indie film. To anyone with even a passing knowledge of film history, there would be no independent cinema without our barely-clad brother and sisters in the skin flicks.
As an industry, porno has enjoyed a truly pioneering effect which is rarely noted. After all, the adult entertainment industry always existed as independent productions, working far beyond the studio systems. Historically, the porn business set the groundwork for non-theatrical distribution channels, guerrilla marketing, breaking on-screen taboos (especially the unapologetic depiction of interracial and same-sex couplings), and challenging the status quo on censorship long before so-called serious filmmakers bothered to get agitated. More recently, adult filmmakers were the first to embrace DV technology for shooting films, the first to use the Internet for the promotion and marketing of new titles, and the first to encourage a new wave of DIY filmmaking under the appealing moniker of “amateur porn.” Indeed, adult films are very much an integral part of the ebb and flow of the indie film world.
One of the most successful and popular creative artists in today’s adult indie cinema is Nick Harmon. Self-proclaimed as the “Greek God of the New Millennium” (a tribute to both his Hellenic heritage as well as his athletic physique), the 34-year-old Harmon has been starring in adult films for the past decade and moved into directing-producing-writing duties for the past two years. With 30 films under his belt (when he’s wearing a belt, of course), Harmon has enjoyed an extraordinary level of commercial success which very, very few indie filmmakers could even dream of sharing.
On-screen, Harmon essays the persona of the take-charge, no-nonsense tough guy who can solve any problem with a maximum of attitude and a minimum of clothing. As a performer, Harmon’s appeal is truly universal–while the majority of his films are designed for a certain ten-percent of the male population, a considerable slice of his audience comes from admiring women.
Behind the camera, Harmon is a laser-focused and imaginative entrepreneur who built a worldwide distribution channel from his web site Nick Harmon.com and enjoys sales and fans from all over the world. A truly creative marketer, Harmon recently successfully experimented with a new concept in filmmaking: a personalized, customized 30-minute video which follows the plotlines and/or fantasies provided by his audience. It won’t be difficult to imagine other filmmakers, either in adult or mainstream channels, “borrowing” this idea in the very near future.
Harmon spoke with Film Threat from his studios in Virginia Beach, Virginia (not too far, strangely, from Pat Robertson’s tele-theological operations) on his unique position within the independent film world.
[ To the jaded observer, skin flicks seem like endless variations of a single theme. As a creative artist, how do you manage to keep your productions fresh and original? And why do are your films primarily short subjects rather than features or featurettes? ] ^ I try to keep my films somewhat short and to the point. I don’t particularly like the long drawn-out scripts or the films that look like they were rehearsed a dozen or so times. I want to give my customers the fantasy that they’re looking for and to create films as life-like and as real as possible with out losing the interest of either the models on the set or the viewers watching at home. As a film producer, I manage to keep my films fresh and original by staying current with the many requests that I get from my customers and from my strong desire to follow through and produce a great film.
[ What is the production process like for a typical Nick Harmon film? Specifically: what kind of budget, schedule and pre-production/post-production issues are you working with in a typical film? ] ^ The production process at this stage of the game is to keep it simple. There is too much going with so many distractions on big sets that sometimes models can lose interest and the crew could get tired. I try and create the most realistic and exciting film where the energy levels are at there highest. It’s not necessary to have a big budget, but to have the best fantasy and make it come to life on film. Great films can cost a lot less if they are well-organized and thought out. When I write my scripts for the films, I know exactly what I want!
[ You have enjoyed considerable success through the Internet marketing of your films. What is the nickharmon.com web site traffic? ] ^ The traffic on my adult-based website (under 18 web surfers are not allowed) is about 30,000 hits per month. Video sales have been progressively very good, and I have all types of people (men, women, gay, straight) purchasing my selection of fetish, muscle, and wrestling videos. There are also lots of international orders going out monthly.
[ Internet marketing is still a very new concept to many aspiring producers and distributors. What lessons have you learned from selling your titles via the World Wide Web? ] ^ The first thing that I learned was make sure to give the customer what he/she wants. Stay current and be creative at all times. Remember that the customer is always right. And stay very loyal to your following.
[ Do you market your films off-line, too? (i.e., trade shows, retail and catalog sales.) If you have, can you tell us about your efforts here? ] ^ So far because my responsibilities with the company are so diverse, I have not had the chance to market the films outside of the World Wide Web. But I welcome the opportunities to expand and market my videos elsewhere.
[ Are you inspired by the works of other filmmakers (from both mainstream and XXX channels)? ] ^ I am not so much inspired by other filmmakers who got me into filmmaking today. Instead, my interest is to be admired and photographed and to continue to work through the ongoing channels of the adult entertainment industry which lead me to produce my own films.
[ Your personalized video service is a unique idea. How did that come about and what kind of response have you gotten to date? ] ^ My personal video service is very unique. I think everyone is so different, it’s difficult to ever imagine creating a film to satisfy everyone. The concept was actually introduced from customers who just simply asked if I could make them a custom video for their own viewing pleasure, and through an old friend that thought it would be a great gift idea for someone’s birthday: “Nick Harmon at your doorstep!” The response has been overwhelming.
[ In several films, you've played a police officer (albeit one who spends a lot of time excessively out of uniform). Have you received any comments from real-life cops on your work? ] ^ I love playing the role of a bad-boy cop. I have a few friends that are police officers. I share my experiences with them and they share their fantasies with me.
[ Have you aspired to cross-over into mainstream filmmaking? If you have, are there any projects on your horizon? ] ^ I have done some mainstream filmmaking but I prefer to make my own where I call the shots. It’s simply the way I prefer things. You will find a lot of model and actors quitting after years of hard work from long hours on the set. My work seems to cum naturally.
[ Nick Harmon can be reached via e-mail at NickHarmon2001@aol.com ]
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Posted on September 6, 2000 in Interviews by Phil Hall
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