Some of the behind-the-scenes stories about Raging Stallion’s Focus/ReFocus are as intriguing as the movie itself. RSS exclusive editor Andrew Rosen (who also directs movies for the studio), filmed interviews with the cast and compiled those and outtakes into “DVD extras” for the double-disc set. In the vignettes, performers reveal what they know about the film noir concept (only a few didn’t know anything). Some particularly interesting footage provides rare behind-the-scenes glimpses of directors Ben Leon, Tony DiMarco and Chris Ward.
The film’s characters are named with nods to classic Hollywood noir from the 1940s and ’50s. Joe Wilder (played by Cole Streets—who Ward said is the best actor he’s ever worked with) is a sly reference to director Billy Wilder, Phillip Stanwyck pays homage to Barbara Stanwyck’s turn in Double Indemnity and Marlowe is an obvious reference to detective Philip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s The Maltese Falcon.
Before RSS began filming Focus/ReFocus, the cast was asked to watch movies like Seven, Memento, Chinatown and Basic Instinct in order to get a feel for more contemporary noir.
Ward, a noir fan, shot an R-rated version of Focus, intending to make the film festival circuit. He said he intended last year to produce a non-explicit version of the multi-award-winning cowboy epic To the Last Man, but removing the explicit scenes left the story thin of anything except murder.
Focus/ReFocus’ behind-the-scenes disc reveals how the directors chose the best cast members based on the massive amount of dialogue in the film and the emotional highs and lows required in some of the scenes. Ward said they hit the jackpot with Streets and David Taylor (who has a mainstream soap opera role on his resume). Cute Steve Cruz plays a version of his funny, real-life self (a famous porn star). Some of the new guys admitted to taking acting lessons on their own in preparation for the weighty, complex script, but most of them credit the directors and the relaxed atmosphere on the set for the apparent ease of their performances.
Some of the street scenes echo classic noir shots. The climax occurs in an apartment overlooking San Francisco’s Castro Theatre, which the studio rented specifically to film the scene.
Ward said he purposely gave the stars of To the Last Man smaller roles this time around, even though several of them demonstrated significant acting chops in last year’s blockbuster. Ricky Sinz and Scott Tanner appear in cameo roles in Focus on purpose.
- Director Jett Blakk, who I believe is one of the most creative gay porn directors working today, told me Dink Flamingo has declared “story porn is dead.” (Maybe he should see Focus.) As a freelancer, Blakk said he hopes that’s not the case, because he always has stories in mind for his work. Blakk also said he already has achieved his New Year’s Resolution of getting RedDevilMen.com up and running. That, on top of losing 40 pounds and squeezing down five belt notches (since he was diagnosed as diabetic last year), are great ways to begin the new decade.
- Here’s an unusual contest: “Be Jake for a Day.” Popular “daddy” performer-director Jake Cruise said if he could become a niche sensation, anyone can—and he’s determined to prove that. The contest sounds like some sort of My Fair Lady bet is going on behind the scenes, but Cruise is willing to take any eager guy and turn him into a star. Men of any race, any body type, any penis size and any age (older than 18, of course) may apply by completing an essay about why they want to take Cruise’s place. Cruise said when he started in porn, no one wanted to see “a middle-aged guy having fun with hot men,” but he proved wrong the naysayers. So, now he’s willing to share the wealth. If you’ve appeared in porn within the past 10 years, you don’t qualify. Winners will be ferried to Los Angeles or Miami to shoot the scene of their choosing.
- Collin O'Neal is an expert at personally identifying (wink, wink) new guys to perform for the masses, but since retiring from performing he hasn’t indulged that passion for a while. His latest find, cute Latino model Samuel Lupon, intrigued O’Neal. He finally succumbed to curiosity during the second film for which he shot Lupon. The evidence—a peppy three-way also featuring Pedro—appears on WorldOfMen.com.
- Finally, my old friend and former GAYVN Awards judge J.C. Adams recently spent an enviable amount of time with the Bel Ami talent and crew. The first of the series of interviews he conducted while hanging out with the guys in Central Europe is on Bel Ami’s gossip site, iBelAmiNews.com. In the first installment of what apparently will be a series, Julien Hussey waxes eloquent about his eagerness to begin performing. The newcomer told Adams he was on the set and stripping down only a few days after his 18th birthday.
Photo of Cole Streets courtesy of Raging Stallion Studios.