Noel Alejandro makes us Sweat
Bringing the psycho-drama of French cinema to gay porn.
Filmmaker Noel Alejandro makes gay porn, but it’s a world away from the type of porn that most of us are used to. Alejandro creates moody, narrative-driven encounters. These are encounters between attractive but every-day guys where the sex is explicit, but it’s sex that also feels real, and very authentic.
Alejandro’s latest production is Sweat.
I caught up with Noel Alejandro for a behind-the-scenes look at Sweat.
What was the inspiration for the story of Sweat?
I was completely inspired by Funny Games by Michael Hanneke?—?I wanted to take that story and give it a twist. I often like to take stories quite cliché?—?both in porn and outside of it?—?to give them my own version, reinvent or put them into a context in which everyone could imagine what will happen, but in the end hooking my audience a little with a different approach.
I watched the film thinking that it was going to be some locker-room or team sport kind of fantasy, but it’s a bit more psychological than that. It reminded me a little of the films of François Ozon. Have you been watching a lot of French cinema?
I really like François Ozon, I’ve seen a lot of his films! I found Une nouvelle amie very interesting and quite Almodovarian. I haven’t yet seen his lastest film, but I can’t wait. I love French cinema, it’s one of my greatest inspirations. I love the films of Martin Provost, and?—?although it’s sounds super-trendy?—?I completely worship Truffaut’s movies. I think the Dardenne brothers are also among my favourites.
What was your casting process for Sweat?
For this film I was very clear that I needed actors from the industry with a special talent for interpretation. So I looked into the filmography of Erika Lust and Bruce LaBruce and discovered Jesse Charif?—?a handsome and special young man, his penetrating gaze captivated me immediately. In Refugees Welcome, by Bruce LaBruce, he transmitted so much dread?—?in the fight scene and at the end of the story?—?that it was clear that he should be the protagonist of the story. Parker Marx was one of my top picks from the beginning?—?not only is he a beauty, but he had all the talent required for the interpretation of the role. I contacted both and they accepted immediately, because they liked the project.
How much rehearsal goes into a scene like this?
The connection between the actors is essential?—?not least because this is a film with natural sex.
For this film we had a full day of rehearsal, plus some previous meetings. We don’t rehearse the sex.
Where did you film?
Finding a good location to film isn’t easy. This time I was lucky, a photographer friend of mine recommended me to some friends of his who were interested in the idea.
We did a survey about porn recently, and a lot of gay guys are looking for porn that feels real and authentic but doesn’t compromise on production values and delivers some sort of narrative. You really seem to have nailed it with this one. Does feedback from your audience help shape the films that you make?
I receive a lot of encouraging emails from my audience, telling me that they like my work.
Some people feel that I haven’t met their expectations of what an erotic film should be, but I don’t follow rules?—?my heart guides the process.
What do you hope that people feel when watching Sweat?
I make my films for my enjoyment?—?I try to make people connect strongly with what they watch, and I’d like people to want to watch it again, and to explore my filmography and discover other stories I’ve made.
I’m going to be filming two more pieces this summer, so I hope that everyone will be looking forward to seeing those.