Creators, Star Discuss ZT's 'Shades of Scarlet'

CHATSWORTH, Calif.—Zero Tolerance Entertainment has high hopes pinned on new erotic drama Shades of Scarlet, its most ambitious production since 2008's Roller Dollz (which was co-produced by Adam & Eve Pictures), and as such one the company is backing with an out-of-the-ordinary, multi-faceted promotional campaign.

Arriving next week (September 16, to be exact), Scarlet was written and directed by AVN Hall of Famer Mike Quasar and stars veteran performer Karlie Montana in her first-ever leading role. A not-so-veiled riff on Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie follows Montana's Scarlet, a sheepish office worker, as she finds herself unexpectedly pulled into the BDSM-tinged world of her favorite author, erotic novelist Roz Collins. 

Scarlet will initially be released in a twin DVD set along with 2012 instructional video Dr. Ava's Guide to Sensual BDSM for Couples as the companion disc. Then in January, ZT plans to re-release the title with cross-promotional offers for the Scarlet line of BDSM implements (from Adam & Eve) used in the movie, including leather cuffs, collars and blindfolds. That phase of the campaign will be unleashed just in time to capitalize on the February debut of the big-screen Fifty Shades of Grey adaptation.

"The chance to do this was really great, and we didn't want to skimp on it, and Mike we think knocked it out of the park," company marketing and sales vice president Marcus West told AVN. "It really pushed the envelope for the work we do at ZT, and we like it a lot."

Added Quasar, "It's like a really exciting movie. Most people know that I shoot just an astonishing amount of pornography, and it would take, short of one of these young ladies offering me some sort of oral pleasure, it would take lightning to get me to actually give a shit and go, 'Hey, my movie's really good!' But this one is actually really good!"

As to the similarity between Scarlet and Fifty Shades, Quasar did not mince words: "I like to think that this movie isn't going to be nearly as insulting to human intelligence as the actual film. When that movie comes out, it's going to be just a whole boatload of shit. Because the book is just unreadable, so I can't imagine that the movie is going to be much better. I honestly think this movie is better than that movie, and I haven't even seen that movie."

Montana expressed equal excitement about the project, and the opportunity it gave her to display her mettle as a leading lady.

"It was nice to do something with a rhyme and reason behind it," she expounded. "With a lot of Zero scenes, it's like 'You guys are just going to enjoy having sex,' which is great, it's fun, but it was nice to play a character. This was the first time I actually got to, like, have a script and really play a character and evolve through the movie and whatnot."

Quasar gave his star glowing marks, offering, "She was actually very good, which was apparent immediately, because you don't book talent based on their thespian skills—you look at her and you go, 'Oh I want to put her in a movie,' and then you hope that she actually can spell. I think for some reason, and I don't know why—I think Karlie might agree—that she's somehow under the radar. And I don't understand that, because when I think of women that I'd be willing to jeopardize my marriage over, she's definitely right up there."

Aside from the acting spotlight it gave her, Montana said Scarlet provided her a chance to expand her horizons in the fetish arena as well. "The stuff I've done fetish-wise has always been very light, so this was probably the most I've gotten to do with fetish," she reflected. "So for me, once I got to read it, I liked how I had to like expose myself to it and then in the end I'm getting banged out like crazy. I even tapped out in the [closing] scene once. I was like, 'Yo, yo, I need a second, I gotta breathe.'"

"It got very real," Quasar agreed. "And more importantly—because I think most people know that the majority of what we shoot is just dreck, but that's fine—this movie was actually, for one brief moment, I was like, 'OK, it's a time before porn was free, when I can actually shoot something that I'm excited about, and they actually gave me some money, and I can put people in it that I want to shoot, not just people that'll work for fuckin' Best Buy gift cards.

"When I started cutting it," he continued, "I was just like, 'This is the coolest thing I've ever done.' And I've been doing this for 25 fucking years. I don't know, just we're all very excited about it."

Shades of Scarlet also stars Skin Diamond, Romi Rain, A.J. Applegate, James Deen, Tommy Pistol, Derrick Pierce, Anthony Rosano and Mr. Pete. View the safe-for-work trailer on YouTube