Boogie Nights commentary: Video Killed the Porno Star

“This scene, that Dylan my editor has dubbed, uh, ‘Godzilla vs. Mothra,’ I dunno, sort of acting styles, Philip Baker Hall vs. Burt Reynolds here, where Floyd Gondolli (Hall) comes in and talks about the introduction of video, to me it’s funny, it’s just the major major sort of hook that once I latched into really kind of freed me up to write the movie…boogie-nights-reynoldsMy sort of romantic notions that um, back in the old days in the 70s when porno movies were shot on film, as opposed to now when they’re shot on video, there was…there’s a major difference. And first and foremost is just a technical difference: um, when you’re shooting on film it’s more expensive, you really have to concentrate and you have to focus and you have to think, ok, where am I gonna put the camera to tell this story well?boogie_nights_2That’s not even getting into the emotional factor, which, to me is: I look at the porno stars of the 70s and I think they could draw a straighter line, uh, between themselves and legitimate movie stars because they were both being shot on film. They were both running at 24 frames per second and being thrown up through light onto a big white screen, and it was kinda easier to think ‘I’m a movie star.’ boogienights2So in this business that’s so degrading so quickly, you know, they could sort of hold onto a shred of their dignity thinking ‘I’m a movie star,’ you know, but then when video came along it just sort of ruined that, and it kind of created this assembly-line mentality…which was, you know, it’s 5 dollars a tape, just keep shooting, you know like Ricky Jay’s line ‘we’ll shoot and shoot and shoot and we’ll figure it out later’ ya know, um, and that kinda mentality happened and I think obviously the quality of the work went down, and look, you know, they’re not movie stars anymore they’re video stars. Not to mention that if you’re a director you’re making your movie for an audience, and the market is what?

The market is a VCR, the market is a guy at home who has a fast-forward button, you know, you do not have time for a plot he has a fast-forward button…so it really kinda, it stripped away any kinda-any version of dignity that mighta been in the business.”Boogie-Nights-Rollergirl-Everett

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