Dear Ty

Like Zack and Miri Make a Porno, but 10 times better. Illustration: Rame Abdulkader.

Dear Ty,

My partner and I have been watching porn together as part of our sexual routine since the first few months we were together. Lately, we’ve been considering making the leap from behind the screen to into the screen: basically, we want to make a porno. Any advice for us amateur porn stars?

—First-Time Porn Stars

Dear FTPS,

A round of applause for you and your partner FTPS.

In my opinion, amateur porn videos can be infinitely better than professionally-produced porn. Critics of homemade videos often take aim at a lack of proper lighting or expensive filming equipment, leading to unfocused or underlit shots, but to me this is their strength: amateur videos feel so much more raw and real than professionally-made movies.

You can feel the sexual and romantic synergy between the two (three, four, five, six?) stars in amateur movies, a sentiment that is critically absent in many professionally-made movies. There’s no producer or camera operators to worry about, and even better, no artificial special effects to mask reality—it’s a peek into a couple’s most private and personal space.

But enough of me and my opinions, let’s focus on you: So you want to make a homemade porno? Let’s do this.

Although that homemade lighting and camera setup plays an important role in keeping a homemade movie authentic, if there is not at least a bit of thought put into camera and light positioning, a homemade movie turns from authentic to atrocious. If you can’t even see the bed (or couch, or even table if you’re feeling kinky), let alone you and your partner having sex, what’s the point of even making a porno in the first place?

No need to invest in a professional DSLR camera by any means (smartphone cameras are close to becoming equivalent to DSLR cameras anyways), but do use a tripod, homemade or store bought. Nothing’s worse than getting dizzy from trying to keep up with a heated porno. As for lighting, I’m not advising you to break the bank with a quick trip to Home Depot for overhead lights or lighting equipment, but do at least turn on a couple sources of light so we can see the action. There’s always the option of mic’ing up you and your partner for better sound quality, but I’ll leave that choice to you.

While filming your actual video, try to forget the camera is even there. If you’re holding the camera for a first-person perspective, think of it as a way of making an entry into your sexual diary rather than documenting it instead.

Finally, don’t try to compare yourself to a porn star, and especially don’t try and act like one. There’s no need for blood-curdling moans or enhancement pills. Start simple and just act like yourself, having sex exactly the way you like and showing off any special fetishes or kinks you and your partner might have. In your next video (if you decide to make more) experiment with new positions, new lighting, different camera angles and even toys and sexual storylines.

Now, let’s make the important distinction on whether you want to make your Oscar-worthy film public or keep it private. There are some hefty pros and cons to consider for both sides of the argument.

Let’s start with keeping your cinematic masterpiece private.

There are definitely some obvious upsides to this. For one, it eliminates the risk of your creepy employer ever finding (and viewing, I’m nauseous) the work of art, which would save you from a ton of awkwardness if they did stumble on it.

Moreover, depending on the job you work (especially jobs around children), the news of your amateur porn career could do much more than just cause some embarrassment: it could lead to disciplinary action, or even termination. I’m totally against this approach, but if you’re in teaching, for example, there are numerous headlines of terminations thanks to the revelation that a teacher used to or currently does work in the porn industry. Maybe one night of on-camera fun isn’t  worth the possibility of losing your job.

On the other hand, let’s look into some of the reasons people choose to make their homemade movies public. For some people, having other people view and enjoy them and their partner having sex is a whole fetish in and of itself.

But let’s address the elephant in the room: the cash.

Selling your video to an actual porn production company could earn you some bank. On a Quora post in 2016 Kelli Roberts, a porn star since 1996, explained that rates vary dramatically depending on the type of scene. According to Roberts, solo videos usually earn the star between $150-$350, while couple videos earn each star between $600-$1,000. For group sex, one can expect to earn between $1,200 to $2,000.

On the other hand, you could post the video yourself to a porn site (i.e. Pornhub, xVideos) and get paid per view, but it’s unclear exactly how much amateur porn stars make using this method. In a recent Reddit AMA, one couple said they make between $0.50 to $0.80 per 1,000 views, translating to less than $100 for even 1,000,000 views. With this in mind, if you’re looking to make money off your videos, it could be best to turn to a porn production company, at least for distribution and marketing purposes.

That’s all from me, and I’ve kept you long enough: go grab your camera and get to it!

Love,

Ty