FLESHBOT EXCLUSIVE: Interview And Sneak Peek With “Sweat” Film Director Noel Alejandro
JUNE 1, 2018 | POSTED IN EDITORIAL FEATURES BY
You read that correctly! Our corner of the dark web has been illuminated by the talented and visionary director Noel Alejandro, whose new film “SWEAT” is now available for streaming. Alejandro has made a name for himself by exploring gay erotica through an artistic lens – effectively blurring the line between porn and cinema, and his work has been featured in publications such as i-D Magazine and Kaltblut. Alejandro was kind enough to answer a few of our burning questions about his process as well as about the insanely hot short film “SWEAT,” so without further ado, check out the Fleshbot exclusive interview with Noel Alejandro below, as well as the sneak peek trailer for “SWEAT.” And don’t forget to check out the full movie here. (All images from SWEAT)
Was there a specific “ah-ha” moment when you realized you wanted to focus your work on blending cinema and erotica?
Yes, when I started working for Erika Lust as her video editor and editing her films. I realized the wonderful advantages of adult cinema. On the one hand it gave me the option of being able to earn money from the beginning (with a little ingenuity and knowledge in the field) and on the other the advantage of breaking molds and changing things since porn needed (and needs) a lot of reinvention, since most of the porn that is produced is done without any artistic vision or sensitivity. It fascinates me to see how the biggest studios of American porn make the films that I least emotionally connect with. Making movies for different adults is a way to change things, to naturalize sex and especially sex between men. Did you know that most of civilization still believes that sex between men is bad? I receive emails from people thanking me for normalizing gay sex and for making them see that it is something beautiful and natural that they should not be ashamed of. I believe in the porn that I do as a tool to make the gay community visible and to defend our rights.
How important do you feel it is to redefine what we consider to be “porn” and what we consider to be “art?”
I think both are quite clear concepts but they have always worked separately. I guess when people watch porn they often do not need other encouragement. For example, I am satisfied that the chemistry between the actors is real and intense but every time there is a bigger demand from the public that asks for a more intelligent adult cinema, more worked, with emotional stories and with an argument that allows them to connect with the protagonists and get carried away by a beautiful arc of emotions that culminate in a good sexual act, intense, naturalized and beautiful. When we talk about art we speak in my opinion of “communication”, a message that the author wants to transfer to the viewer by any way, and porn can be a beautiful and powerful way to convey these emotions and messages. I chose to do porn because I realized the immense possibilities it offered to give free rein to my creative needs and how badly the genre has always treated. For example, speaking about the subject of pornography with someone, you will see how fast the easy jokes and teasing towards the genre begin. I get mad when people around me start to ridicule what happens in porn, this is due to the way the genre has been treated so far, without any touch or sensitivity. Any scenic representation performed in porn is seen as parody. I think we need more artists behind the scenes.
What inspired the plot for SWEAT?
When I wrote the story I remember that I had been reading that day some negative reviews towards Amarna Miller, who is a friend of mine and belonged to the adult film industry a while ago (she has now embarked on a different path), some people on the Internet criticized her supposed harm to feminism for representing scenes where some violence and sexual desire are mixed, and accusing her of damaging the image and reputation of the feminism that she defends. This made me think about the limits that the people who work in this industry are locked in an implacable way, on one hand we are driven to tell stories and lead the viewer to new sensations and, more importantly, perform as artists and do what we want , experiment with different genres and break taboos and molds but on the other hand it seems that a movie with sex should be careful what issues it touches. Instead you won’t see anyone complaining that in a conventional movie there is some violence, or even sexual violence, so I felt discriminated against and I thought I wanted to claim my right as a filmmaker to tell any kind of story that I need to tell without giving up to do it through the pornographic genre.
What traits were you looking for when casting the actors for SWEAT?
They definitely had to be actors with a good acting talent. We rehearsed a lot and found the right attitude and atmosphere for each character and phrase and it was really fun, I remember Parker and Jesse taking it very seriously. Parker had his script paper full of notes and both paid attention to exactly what I asked. Jesse has something special in the look, I saw him in Refugees Welcome by BruceLaBruce for Erika Lust and since I saw him I knew he would do it well. And Parker already has a large filmography behind where his talent to interpret is clear.
What are your biggest influences in film?
When I was a kid I liked American cinema and Spanish but over the years I have been emerging as a consumer only of European cinema with a few exceptions and directors for American cinema. My biggest influences, for example in the Spanish cinema are the melodrama of Almodovar, the surrealism of Agustí Vila or the exaggerated realism of Rosales. All of them always providing a clear cinematic language so obvious that you can feel that you are watching the film through the eyes of the director. I guess you have to have a lot of confidence in yourself as a director to dare to be honest with yourself and bring to the screen a story narrated in a certain way.
If you could cast any celebrities in one of your movies, who would they be?
I think that any actor can be perfect if you choose him for the right role and if you direct him in a concrete way. For this reason I’m a little reluctant to work with super porn stars, first that their rate must be exorbitant (I have not really talked about this specific topic with any of them) and then, as I always say, the point is to choose the actor for the appropriate paper and then rehearse with him until finding the right tone. Almost everyone has a role waiting for him that can turn him into a star!
Would you be offended if someone were to view SWEAT as primarily a masturbatory aid (for lack of a better phrase) instead of a piece of cinema, or would that only mean that the work was a success?
I mainly make movies for my enjoyment, and not sexual but sensory. When I shoot a movie I’m learning to make cinema, I’m becoming more and more aware of the work involved in bringing a script to the screen, which has been written from an idea. This process is what feeds my mind and makes me grow. When people buy my work is contributing to this process to be possible and I also think that if you are looking for simple pornography you could get it for free so in any case I feel blessed. Anyway many people write me to tell me that they have had a good time watching my films and it makes me feel good, knowing that I have caused that sensation in people.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about your work?
When you are dedicating your time to making films within the pornographic genre you can sometimes have the feeling that people are not going to take you seriously. Why would someone want to work in porn when they can be doing conventional movies … When I started in this business, I did it motivated by changing things from inside and because I was sure I could bring a different vision to a genre that has always been treated from the parody and the mockery, I felt that I could make people take themselves seriously again to sit and enjoy a porn movie, like what happened to me the first time I saw I want your love by Travis Mathews.
Do you base your films on personal experiences, or do you prefer to separate your work from your romantic life?
Everything I do is based on sensations and emotions that I have lived or that come to me through other films and I’ve wanted to include in my works. Many times the main characters of my films end up being a kind of self-alter ego that exposes my own fears and ruminations. It’s probable that I don’t get to show situations or sexual practices that I wouldn’t like to practice, if I don’t connect with what I do then I’m not interested.
How did you initially get your work out there and become recognized?
My first video was called HAIRY and it was a composition of details of my body. I put it on the internet in open and had many visits, so it occurred to me to ask for money as a tip to whoever was willing. As the video was republished in some blogs with a lot of circulation I had real people giving me money as a reward and made me understand that there was a business in this. The Internet is a tool which with everybody can make money with a little bit of ingenuity and patience.
What advice do you have for aspiring erotic filmmakers?
Often when they ask me what can someone do to become a porn actor I tell them that it is a very constant job and don’t shrivel up. Get rich if it’s what they want, of course there are superstars out there earning a lot of money but I would say to the aspirants that they should be satisfied with the fact that they can have a job which they will have enough to live but they will be able to travel a lot and meet many interesting people. My advice to those who start is that to write a lot to all the producers and directors, if they don’t have an answer, write them every week and always with a smile and showing the desire they have. Never get angry with a producer because he doesn’t answer an email, just insist with a smile. Be in the networks, if you are not in the networks you simply are not existing.
If we could have only one takeaway from SWEAT, what would it ideally be?
My favorite part is the fear felt by the protagonist to find out who has knocked on his door and entered his house has lied to him and is not who he says he is. That feeling of having put a person at home that has tricked him into entering and feeling real terror because you are completely in his hands.
In my films sex is anecdotal, the interesting thing is what happens before and after.