On the Set: Axel Braun's Project 12X

This article originally ran in the May 2012 issue of AVN magazine.

LOS ANGELES—In a former restaurant-supplier warehouse in downtown Los Angeles, director Axel Braun is in the middle of what he is calling “Project 12X”—the simultaneous production of four hardcore parodies: Avengers XXX, Iron Man XXX, Thor XXX, and She-Hulk XXX for his Axel Braun Productions and Vivid Entertainment.

“We were pleased with the success of Star Wars XXX,” Braun says as wrestler-turned-performer Chyna walks by, wearing nothing but hair curlers and eye make-up in preparation for her full-body green paint job to play She-Hulk. “We thought it was going to be big, but it exceeded our expectations. In four days, the trailer got half a million hits on YouTube.”

The set is filled with industry veterans, including director of photography Eli Cross, production designer Kylie Ireland and behind-the-scenes cameraman David Lord.

Braun prefers to make original stories with his comic book characters instead of remaking entire movies. “I take some elements from the original but I’m not going to rip off the movie,” Braun says. “I’ll use some elements—for Spider-Man we took the upside-down kiss and made it an upside-down blowjob—but if you know the characters, you can do it.”

Much of the activity today is pickup shots for Iron Man XXX.

“I had to wait for the armor,” Braun says. “The important thing for the comic book movies is that the audience doesn’t feel cheated. The comic book geeks are a very powerful community, and I’m a part of it. I’m a fan myself, and I don’t want to see something that was thrown together at the last minute with Halloween costumes from Wal-Mart. I like to keep my storyline inside the comic-book reality. There will be gratuitous sex because we are shooting porn movies, but it will be justified by the history of the characters.”

More than once, Braun’s “legendary attention to detail” is mentioned. About 20 times more than once.

“It’s difficult to get the sets and costumes right because we don’t have Hollywood budgets,” Braun says. “Building sets is an ordeal, and we worked for two weeks on the LandSpeeder. It was beautiful. But when we tried to move it, it weighed 5,000 pounds. It’s on eBay now. It’s so heavy we don’t want to move it again. The proceeds will all go to charity—the Axel Braun Charity for Maintaining the RV,” he adds with a laugh, gesturing to the massive jet-black RV with a red and white ABP on the side.

The legendary attention to detail continues into post-production.

“There is a lot of trial and error, but we don’t rush things out to be in time for awards or to get our money back right away,” Braun says. “Star Wars was shot almost a year ago and it wasn’t ready for awards season this year. Special effects had to be tweaked. Everything had to be perfect. For Superman we had 37 VFX shots. It was expensive and time-consuming. For Star Wars, we had 512 of those. That’s what we had to deal with.

“But the fan base has responded positively because every line reflects something in the Star Wars universe. You can tell it was written by people who loved the material.”

Braun is not resting on his laurels after Project 12X wraps: his future plans include parodies of Fantastic Four (“She-Hulk is going to lead into that”), Daredevil, The Dark Knight, Captain America, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

At the craft table, Ireland expresses some irritation at The Empire Strikes Back: “Fuckin’ Ewoks.”

The first of Braun’s four productions to be released is Avengers XXX, which comes out on Vivid.com on May 1 and streets May 8 (coinciding with the May 4 release of the mainstream Avengers).