June 29, 2019

We're looking back at some of our very first films and our very first ongoing series, Proximity.

The original Proximity film was one of the very first we ever made. I was maybe 22,  we didn’t really think of what we were doing as “film making". I was working as a model for a soft core site called GodsGirls.com and posting nudes on tumblr and I’d just started experimenting with camming. I just wanted to experiment with shooting with a really shallow depth of field and a very close distance and make something interesting and abstract.

I wrote this little blurb which had way more grandeur than the actual execution of that first video:

The ‘Proximity’ project uses the triggers of intimacy with the narrow distance between the camera and subject as a starting point. The camera explores the bodies and captures their connection in more intricate detail, highlighting parts commonly overlooked, skin, breath, touch, the atmospheric over the explicit.

It's the kind of thing that I'm glad exists but going back to it, I cringe and watch it through my fingers because our film making, editing and execution have come on so far and I think everyone finds it painful to revisit their first clumsy steps into developing a technique. (Let alone, if they include you masturbating.)

I often think about vanishing these early films from the site, they don't often have "full length" versions because they were only made for posting on tumblr and I'd love to appear like we just came to Four Chambers as professional, capable film makers but that would be disingenuous and the less-proud half of my brain loves to see the origins of something and values the process and the learning and the mistakes.

It was in making these early films, with no purpose or agenda that we fell in love with filmmaking and making pornography. They're the roots of this weird twisted tree that lead my life to where it is now, somewhere I'm really proud of and still in slight disbelief that I get to do.

>> watch proximity I



After this first film we decided we were going to go all in and we travelled to San Francisco in the summer of 2013 to shoot the second part with Owen Gray. This was the first time I had met someone from the internet to fuck them, let alone a professional porn performer and I was nervous as hell. The shoot went so well but it's strange to look back now on how tough that was for my partner at that time to watch me fucking someone else that close, with that kind of intensity. A testement to the intensity of cinema and how easy replicating intimacy on a screen can be.

It's barely mixed or color balanced, I like that our faces are red and you can see my spots and my shaving rash and the exposure of the whites are all burned out. I think this is our messiest but one of our most successful early films in it's intention and simplicity and that it's just... still... hot. It's good sex.

This was the write up:

proximity II was created in response to the original exploration of intimacy in the first session. This initially focused on one subject connection with the lens and therefore the viewer. While in proximity II, the viewer watches two people focused on each other. It intends to highlight the intricacies and minutia of sex, things often lost in conventional porn. The closeness of the camera allows for greater focus on breath, sweat, touches that might otherwise be lost. Body parts merge and skin blends. It becomes less about clarity and more about atmosphere and experience.

This was were we also hit the road block regarding what we could put in a teaser. We didn't have the expertise to know how to host our videos ourselves and we were still running the project through a tumblr blog, we used vimeo previously but we'd run into issues with censorship, they'd tried to close our account for nudity before. So we decided to try and make a teaser that kept the intensity and the atmosphere of the fucking, but without any of the explictness at all, no nudity at all. It was a test to see where the line of the censor would be drawn. This stayed up and formed the basis for how we cut our teasers going forward.

The teaser comes as a test of the idea of "safe for work" - the internet defines 'sexual' and therefore 'unacceptable' by arbitrary levels of nudity. In response to the vilification of naked bodies, in this teaser, the full uncensored video has been stripped of deemed explicit content but the intensity and eroticism remains, technically making it SFW

This film was our first to really go far in terms of reach. I was excited to be doing something different that people connected with, I just wanted to make more. That year we submitted it to the Berlin Porn Film Festival and were entirely shocked to see it get in? Watching it on the screen in Berlin was probably the first moment I saw what we were doing as something more than just 'messing around' it also reinforced that watching a 28 minute long film of fucking in a room full of people is paiiiiinfully long. From then on we aimed to keep everything under 15 minutes unless absolutely necessary.

>> watch proximity II



We then went to France, to reunite with Dwam after making Crystalline and film the third part of the series with Magenta. They had a romance at the time that was infectious and they showed us around the city and we filmed them fucking in a beautiful sun lit apartment with a secret garden. This was the first time we'd made a film I'd not been in front of the camera, I loved watching and directing and getting to see everything unfold through the viewfinder and in front of me without being caught up in being a physical part of it. I still stand by that people always look at their best while fucking, not their most put together or perfect, but their best. Pleasure and intensity and nervous energy make everyone look good, and not wanting to sound trite but it's something pretty special.

>> watch proximity III



After that we took a break - from this series at least - we made 10 more films in that space of time. We learned a lot and improved a lot.

I contacted Damien because I love his work with Oh Boy (he's also an incredible filmmaker in his own right) and I saw that he also occasionally performed. We always want to work with people creating things we love because it gives us the opportunity to meet them, to learn from them and they always bring incredible energy and ideas to shoots. I chatted with Damien on skype and proposed the idea of the shoot and asked if he had any thoughts about who could be his partner. I had seen Viktor's photo floating around on tumblr but had never connected the face to the name before. These guys were an absolute dream to shoot and the film was a dream to edit, probably the easiest in a long time.

I love to create weird set ups and creative edits but sometimes there's nothing better than the simple pleasure of watching two people with a really intense connection have great sex. Continuing the Proximity series always re-grounds us in how great that truly is.

This is obviously new ground for us as it's the first time we've shot anything with two guys. It's my hope that with Four Chambers that even if what or who is on camera isn't what turns you on there's hopefully enough else that makes a film interesting that it's enjoyable none the less. 

Anyway I'm sure my heavy breathing and excited squeaks probably make a cameo at some point.

I remember being a tiny bit nervous because as much as it's easy to say that we didn't make films with a specific audience in mind it was impossible to ignore that the idea of the imagined porn consumer breaks down into two categories, straight man and gay man and never the twain shall meet. I knew really that the community watching our work was more diverse than that but did have a twinge of worry about scaring away the straight guys. I should have had more faith, this was one of our most popular and most celebrated film releases that year.

Damien and Viktor were an absolute joy, super hot, incredibly sweet and so excited to get to fuck. I remember holding my hands over my face to stop myself squealing with joy because they were so cute. At one point Viktor was telling Damien how much he'd missed him. Here's some cute behind the scenes shots from that day:

And here's baby me, editing the cut:

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>> watch proximity IV


Somehow this went and turned into a history of the early beginnings of the project! I love this series and I've been saying forever that we should revisit it, I think it forged a lot of what we do now but it's essentially Four Chambers without a lot of the construction and artifice, I guess it's as close to "authenticity" as we could get. 

I'll end by including some pages from our first book on the proximity project about replicating intimacy through video work and fucking and watching through screens.