If We All Love Sex, Why Don't We Have More Of It (On Screens)?

Guest post by Mel Agace, producer of ‘Destricted’, a collection of shorts that brings together sex and art in a series of films created by some of the world’s most provocative artists and directors. ‘Destricted’ has been on the verge of being distributed in the USA for 4 years, and finally its coming … Destricted was released on DVD and VOD on the 2nd Nov on Amazon.com and netflix.com < http://bit.ly/c5Dfes> www.destrictedfilms.com

Trailer link  http://destrictedfilms.com/us/trailer.php

So what is Destricted? our dictionary definition is – 1. To unlimit restriction. 2. To deconstruct within bounds, to unconfine. We wanted to create a platform for films and ideas without restriction. An alternative view.

The platform was curatorial and experimental, i.e. high risk, rather than traditional film development and production with a clear commercial product! We invited international artists such as Gaspar Noe, Marina Abramovic, Matthew Barney, Larry Clark, Sam Taylor-Wood, Marco Brambilla and Richard Prince to explore the topics of Sex, Pornography and Art in a series of short films.

Why do a project like this? I guess it started from personal interest. I have a healthy and curious interest in sex and through it the language of pornography. After writing a DIY book on Sex techniques I found there was a distinct lack of interesting alternatives to the standard ‘deep throat’ approach for visual content. It made me curious as to why not. So in discussion with friends - Art Curator Neville Wakefield and Artist Musician Andrew Hale we decided to produce something ourselves.

We set the artists no restrictions in terms of controlling or guiding the content.

They owned full copyright as they would over any of their work and had final cut! This meant we were a distributors nightmare and we spent more money on fighting hundreds of irrelevant clauses in our sales agents and distributor’s contracts than on any single film. It was a media law crash course, but it meant that we could protect the work.

It was a low budget production but high risk venture and we funded the first film with Matthew Barney. Matthew’s endorsement and his agreeing to make that first film meant that our approach to the other artists had real credibility and weight. We got lucky and in the process had gathered two very experienced and generous supporters, from the art and film financing world, Mark Fletcher and Joni Sighvatsson whose collective muscle pushed the project onto another level. Over a period of 4 years we made 7 films. We were film virgins but it was the most exciting, personally expensive and rewarding education we could have ever had.

Then came the question of how in post to streamline on one HD timeline films in multiple formats and regions. Again, as wild amateurs we had anticipated none of these questions or problems - but with the artists’ patience and a lot of favours from post facilities (who probably just wanted to peak at the material) we ended up with something unique and full of genuinely radical content that could not have been produced in any other way. Our inexperience turned out to be our best asset.

Destricted premiered at Sundance in 2006 to great acclaim and controversy, followed by Gaspar Noe and Larry Clark headlining at that years Cannes Film festival. Audiences loved and hated Destricted in equal measure. Newspapers argued over it. The debate was in full swing. We were thrilled. In the UK we had the British Board of Film Classification using it as a flag flyer for opening up restrictions on explicit content. They only had one concern, the safety aspect of an inserted root vegetable! We had masturbators escorted from screenings at The Tate Modern Museum, London. The Pope was outraged. It doesn’t get better than that. Subsequently there was an international release at the hands of the few brave and solvent art house distributors who still take real risks.

The only place we couldn’t get arrested was the States. We just didn’t have our paperwork in order or the right volume of it plus the USA has many more logistical and legal hoops to jump through for a project of this nature. We persevered, or rather Revolver Entertainment USA did, but it meant that three of the films from the original series had to be removed from the DVD as we couldn’t legally comply (Sam Taylor-Wood, Marco Brambilla and Marina Abramovic). Faced with this and considering the time lapse from our original Sundance 2006 premiere we decided to commission new films from Brazilian artist Tunga, Cecily Brown, Marilyn Minter and celebrated fashion photographer Sante D’Orazio.

Cut to …Destricted is finally being released in the US – today! But you definitely won’t find it at your local movie house. Due to the content and the artists and filmmakers involved, it made more sense to focus on a few museum and art house screenings rather than a traditional release pipeline. At Museums we can offer up all 13 films, a kind of pick and mix approach as we don’t have to adhere to the same legal restrictions as a conventional release. Which also makes it possible to see Sam, Marco and Marinas’ films even though they still can’t feature on the DVD version. Confused now!

We never meant the films to be screened in cinemas although in Europe their life on the big screen was a surprising success - as we always envisioned the project to be on VOD, or from a menu on DVD, so you could pick and choose which film (and in what order) you wanted to watch. And, trust me, there is something for everyone, but you’re not necessarily going to like them all! …

Bios

Mel Agace: Consultant for the Virgin Unite, Prince of Wales, Theelders.org , UN World Food Programme, Actionaid and Comic Relief. Co-Author of several reference books, most recently the bestseller, “The Sex Book” translated into 17 languages.

Neville Wakefield: Art Curator. Recent projects include Senior Curatorial Advisor at PS1 MoMA, Adam Kimmel Projects, Co-creative director of Tar magazine and curator of Frieze Projects of Frieze Art Fair, London.

Andrew Hale: Founding member and songwriter in internationally acclaimed band Sade whose new album Soldier of Love reached No1 in 19 countries. Recently scored Rockstar's upcoming video game LA Noire.