This article originally ran in the Spetember 2015 issue of AVN magazine. Click here to see the digital edition of the magazine.
MALIBU, California—When one thinks of epic adult movies these days, it’s hard not to think of Wicked Pictures director/performer Stormy Daniels. Of the 67 titles she’s directed so far, both Operation: Desert Stormy and Operation: Tropical Stormy stick out as major productions, though nearly everything she’s helmed has been ambitious and highly acclaimed.
Which brings us to Wanted, her most complex and elaborate production so far—a joint production from Wicked and Adam & Eve Pictures. The movie is set to street on September 16.
“We have now been shooting almost every day for the last week or so,” Stormy told AVN in an interview on June 27, on a set in Malibu. “We started on the 18th and we will be wrapping on the 29th, but there were four off days in there.”
The length of the shoot was complicated by the fact that the cast and crew spent most of the time working outdoors in 110-degree weather.
“We did three days in Agua Dulce, two days here in Malibu; our hottest day was when we were a couple of miles outside of Palm Springs, in an old western town, and one day in a house in Altadena, which strangely enough was one of the hottest days because the house didn’t have air conditioning and it was like being in an oven. At least, on the other days, we had a little bit of breeze,” she recalled, adding almost wistfully, “We now smell very authentic.”
Part of the reason the production has eaten up so much time is that the shoot has been plagued with problems, both manmade and natural. If something could go wrong, it probably did.
For instance, the director recalled, “We started the shoot with a rehearsal and wardrobe fitting so we could be matched with the saddles and horses, to make sure our bodies fit each horse and that we could ride in the outfits, and with a gun on us, and we got out there and one of my lead girls, who said she was a very experienced rider, was not, and it was a disaster. So we had to replace her at the last minute, and I moved one of the girls who had a smaller part up into that part, thought our problem was solved. Our first day of filming was perfection; it was like my dream coming to life. The next day, that girl was supposed to be the first up, and I talked to her at 10 o’clock at night, she had everything, she was excited, she said all the right things, call time was 8 a.m.; her last text to me was, ‘I’ll see you at 8 a.m. sharp. I’m so excited.’ Her agent called my production manager at 4 a.m. and said she’d retired from the business!”
“Do you believe her?” We had to ask.
“She better hope that she’s retired from the business!” was the response.
“So, at 6 a.m., I’m scrambling to find someone that can act, fit the wardrobe, not covered in tattoos, has a test, and can ride a horse,” Stormy continued. “Not many porn girls answer the phone at 6 a.m. Luckily for me, Allie Haze is one of them. Unfortunately, she’d never ridden a horse and she lives in Las Vegas, but she jumped up and drove straight out to Agua Dulce. … I took her out on the horse and spent an hour and a half or two hours teaching her how to ride.”
“So we threw Allie in and we started shooting, but we got a six-hour late start and everything kind of snowballed and it went downhill from there,” she explained. “We had a fire coming down the mountainside onto us when we were on location in Palm Springs; we were fighting smoke and ash, and we had seven firefighters just off camera lined up watching us shoot but also to tell us whether we had to evacuate immediately. Luckily, we got everything we needed.
On top of that, Stormy said, “I fired one person, made ten people cry, and one person quit. And then, obviously the tragedy back home.”
Seems that the previous Sunday, Stormy’s home in Dallas had been struck by a flash flood, and while firefighters and other workers had been able to rescue husband Brendon Miller’s horse, which still spent almost a week in the hospital, Stormy’s own horse Bailey and another one were lost to the raging waters.
“So the very last thing I wanted to do was get on a horse and direct this movie after learning that my horse just died,” she sighed. “So very, very hard, because all I want to do is go home and bury my horse. Luckily, I have good friends back home and they recovered him and buried him and did all that stuff for me. There’s a little Easter egg for him in the movie.”
Beyond that, there’s the fact that over the course of the shoot, several cars broke down—”We have a really talented crew that does car repairs,” noted director of photography Andre Madness—and for most of the production days, the cast and crew had to make do with Porta-Potties. Also, while Stormy’s well used to dealing with the ambient sounds that can interfere with production—airplanes overhead, buzzsaws, lawnmowers, power lines, cellphones ringing and the like—those noises were somewhat more of a problem for a movie that’s supposed to be set in the Old West.
“We’ve had to do some scramble and some little tweaks here and here, but everything’s been amazing,” Stormy understated. “It’s just that everything possible that you could imagine could go wrong has gone wrong. … it’s all been horribly exhausting and trying and painful; we were all injured. I’m covered with scratches; I have a big lump on my head, too, from a fight scene. We all did our own stunts—three fight scenes, a gunfight, riding stunts—and we shot nine sex scenes. I must be out of my fucking mind—I could just go on and on and on and on. It’s almost comical now.”
“I spent a massive amount of time making sure that every single detail was perfect and laid into place and every stone turned,” she added. “For the last two months, I’ve been living in 1879. Everything is historically correct, and researched, and I’ve put a few little Easter eggs in the movie that I’ll see if people catch when the movie comes out; little tidbits of trivia.”
And then there were the leeches.
“Ohmigod!” exclaimed Allie Haze. “Me and Anikka had to walk out into this small pond on the property and stay there for a few minutes to avoid being seen by the bad guys, but when we got out, there were all these little black bugs that sunk their teeth or something into my legs, and we had to spend about ten minutes picking them off of us. I’m just glad none of them got into my cooch!”
Besides Haze, Brendon Miller and herself, the movie stars some of Stormy’s favorite performers, including Anikka Albrite, Amber Rayne, Jessica Drake, Steven St. Croix, Tommy Gunn, Brad Armstrong (who did all the costuming as well, based on ideas provided by Stormy) and Eric Masterson.
And by the way, in case anyone was wondering, there is a plot to Wanted. “What is it about? Well, there are four women who are kind of thrown together under some strange circumstances when one of them, Anikka, is accused of murdering a man that she did not kill, because the sheriff wants the deed that he left to her, and the other three make a last-minute decision to rescue her from the gallows and ride out of town. What happens today is, we’re being chased by the sheriff and his posse who want the deed from us, and also a bounty hunter that’s been on my trail from years before—it’s a backstory—and we’ve got some Apache Indians who are friends of one of the girls and they help us out and it all comes to a big climax standoff at a silver mine, and I won’t tell you how it comes out.”
The movie also includes several firsts for Stormy. It’s the first time she’s directed her Wicked Pictures compatriots Brad Armstrong and Jessica Drake; the first time her husband Brendon has written (and sung) an original song for one of her movies; and the first time she’s worked so extensively with animals, having had to hire movie horses because “they’re used to cameras and booms swinging over their heads and lights and guns going off in front of them. One gunshot and my own horse would have been in a tree,” she said.
Stormy began writing Wanted more than eight years ago, but it’s only now that circumstances have aligned to allow the movie to be made.
“I announced my official retirement in April,” Amber Rayne, who owns a horse farm, told us, “and I’ve been in and out, in and out, performing-wise, for like a year, but I’ve still been performing and directing and producing, editing. I’m here because six years ago, Stormy Daniels said she couldn’t do this movie unless I was here, and I said, ‘I will absolutely be a part of this, I promise.’ So I announced I had retired; she pulled the trigger on this movie, and I went, ‘Okay, I’m doing it. I don’t break my promises.’ My original plan was to do a boy/girl/girl scene and I looked at Stormy and … I told her, ‘I ain’t leavin’ the industry that way; it’s gonna be an anal scene,’ so I talked to Tommy Gunn and asked, ‘Will you put it in my butt?’ And he goes, ‘Oh, yes, absolutely!’ And I want to tell you, trying to do an enema in an RV bathroom was an epic experience.”
And then there’s Steven St. Croix.
“I always knew he was going to be the sheriff,” Stormy asserted, “and when I wrote the script years ago, he’s who I had in mind—and then he left the business for two years to go to France, so that was one of the reasons I didn’t do it then. I want to say he came back from France to be in this movie; he just didn’t know it. I’m gonna go with that story.
“If I would have tried to shoot this movie five years ago,” she added, “first of all, I wouldn’t have had the awesome people that I have today—some of them weren’t around—and second, if all of this shit had happened five years ago, I don’t think I would have been a strong enough leader to keep the crew together.”
Stormy also hired the wunderkinder of adult art direction, Kylie Ireland and Andy Appleton, who did all the set design, art direction and props. They even managed to create an authentic-looking silver mine on the ranch in Agua Dulce where the company shot for several days—and it was so good that the owner of the property asked them if it would be okay if he left it up so that other production companies could use it if they wanted!
Bottom line? “Everything that’s been captured on film looks exactly how I wanted it to. It’s been incredible. But the coolest thing about this, other than how awesome it looks, is, I’ve never seen people come together like this. … No one has complained; no one. So I was like, ‘Hey, I need you to do this movie, and it’s going to be the hardest, longest, most miserable thing you’ve ever done, and I need you to do it for less money.’ And everybody did. And one of the coolest things is the text messages that I’ve received from other people in the industry, who don’t work for me, aren’t on this movie and don’t even work for Wicked; like directors from other companies who have sent me messages saying, ‘Oh, your pictures look so good; everything looks amazing; just want you to know we’re sorry for your loss and everybody’s rooting for your movie.’”
The movie has also received a lot of mainstream coverage. L.A. Weekly sent a photographer to cover one of the Agua Dulce ranch days; stories have run in not only the Weekly but also on the Jezebel and Refinery 29 websites, and Stormy’s heard rumors that GQ and Rolling Stone will be writing something on the movie also.
We can’t help but feel that a few years from now, people will look back on this production and say, “See? That’s the way we used to do things in porn!”