Producing Porn Responsibly During A Pandemic

Written by FRANK STACY

C-O-V-I-D. Those five letters once upon a time didn’t mean anything at all to any of us, but in early 2020 they took on a new meaning, defining a troubling and uncertain era that we still feel the ripples of to this day. The pandemic threw the whole world into turmoil and companies into disarray, slowing business activity to a halt and decimating any long-term planning or projections. It certainly threw us all a curveball, but at Gamma Entertainment (home to Adult Time), we regrouped as quickly as we could and put our heads together to weather this unexpected storm as best we could manage. It was a turbulent beginning, but we eventually found our footing and established a pretty impressive list of accomplishments off the back of quick decision-making, thorough due diligence, and an earnest concern for the health and livelihood of our staff, crews, and talent. In the end, we succeeded in not only keeping operations running as smoothly as conditions could allow, but we also were able to provide our loyal subscribers with some very innovative and out-of-the-box new releases while so many were sheltering or quarantined at home. While we’re certainly grateful that the world is gradually returning to normal and productions have resumed in full-swing, we can now look back with pride that we navigated those uncharted waters responsibly and conscientiously.

Remote Work: The Boom Of Zoom

The first challenge? The abrupt shift to full-time remote work. Our team, who were only accustomed to the occasional tele-work day once in a while, suddenly found themselves permanently logging in from home. Communication became a virtual puzzle, tech support was pulling mad overtime hours, and our vibrant office culture had to undergo a major revamp. Even mundane tasks like getting webcams for employees were logistical nightmares at the start, thanks to product shortages and backlogged deliveries. Thankfully, those growing pains didn’t last long. Zoom meetings became second-nature, our administrative teams adapted to the new reality, and we in fact now operate as a fully-remote office. What started as a problem to solve ended up becoming a major convenience in the long run!

Lights, Camera, Distraction: Production Takes a Pause

When the news first hit of stay-at-home measures and quarantine protocols, we of course were sure to comply – which meant stopping production entirely. All of our written scripts and active shoots, our planned projects, and the foreseeable future of release schedules for our various studios and networks – poof! Gone in an instant. Fortunately for us we always maintained a modest buffer of a couple of months of backlogged content, so we didn’t have to halt updates entirely, but we did have to make a difficult decision – do we keep our update frequency the same and run out of content sooner? Or slow down the rate of releases to stretch them out, giving subscribers less content per day but paced better over time? In the end, we decided on the latter… after all, we had no idea when conditions would improve, so we felt that favoring the long-term was a safer call.

During these earliest stages, we took advantage of the downtime to prepare some supplementary content for eventual release – compilations of popular sex acts and performers, reunion watch-parties, lesbian-only recuts of threesomes, pretty much whatever we could create with existing assets. Compilations to this day are quite popular on tube sites, so we figured that some members might get a kick out of perusing the best of what we have on offer in one convenient clip.

A Cam-Do Spirit: Live Shows & Self-Shot Content

With strict regulations in place across the United States, the average citizen couldn’t even leave their house for a hookup for months – and that includes pornstars. The only fucking they could do was from home, and the only sexual partners (if any) had to be ones at home. For pornstars who lived alone, this meant that if they wanted to produce any self-shot content they were limited to solos only, and even couples sheltering together had limited resources to match the kinds of productions or pairing types that audiences were used to. Put simply, any new content we were going to produce was going to be a big departure from our usual fare.

But that didn’t deter us. We wanted to be able to offer something – ANYTHING – new and original to our members. After all, most rival sites were in the same boat as us, some with even less content buffer to tide them over. Customers were going to be hungry for updates, and we wanted to be there to oblige. Enter “Super Horny Fun Time,” our idea for a daily live event extravaganza where top performers mingled with fans seven days a week. Our Montreal team burned the midnight oil to make it happen, from coordinating availability with talent to implementing live-feed streaming for the first time on the platform. Our talented and dedicated staff managed to work miracles, and we also received a lot of very thoughtful messages from the stars who were glad to have some steady work for the first time in weeks. And lo, we had our first foothold into the territory of tapping creators directly to produce Adult Time content via their own means and home set-ups.

Commission Co-Missions: Self-Directed Studio Scenes

Now was the time to get inventive. We were running low on regular releases for all our popular and until-now active brands. We still weren’t in a position to resume production yet. Our live shows were going strong, but they offered such a different experience compared to our story-driven series that we knew there would be a lot of fans still left wanting. So we took things to the next level – we transformed our cam stars into being their own directors!

We took two different approaches throughout the pandemic for these self-directed releases. The first was a webcam-based approach over Zoom: we staged a call with two or more actors who had been given scripts, and we used the first part of the call to run through the materials and discuss the story and solo acts we wanted to include. Then in the second half of the call we muted ourselves so the cast could perform and capture their footage using the call software’s recording functionality. We used this method to produce episodes for Pure Taboo, Girlsway, Age & Beauty, Caught Fapping, Shape Of Beauty, and more – of course these episodes were never expected to hit the spot quite the same as a fully polished studio production, but we were very impressed with how committed all our actor-directors were to bringing our vision to life in a completely different way than they were used to.

The second approach was to send a series briefing to a creative collaborator, and ask them to produce an episode of their own imagining following the vision guidelines and technical specs we provided. We chose to create brand-new series for these, so that the creators didn’t have to fret too much about existing audience expectations for these productions. We got great mileage out of several of these limited series – Cardiogasm, J.O.I. Mom, Poly Family Life, Shower Solos, and Naked Yoga Life all turned out better than we dared hope, thanks to the creators feeling empowered and engaged to put their own spins on the concepts.

Feature Films: Making Waves Despite the Drought

We have always prided ourselves on releasing narratively and technically rich feature films year after year – were we going to let a little thing like a global crisis slow us down? Hell no! In fact, we not only managed to plan and produce *A* feature film completely remotely – we managed to do *THREE!* 

Towards the start of the pandemic, Netflix’s “Tiger King” was sweeping the nation. Nobody had anywhere else to be, after all, so what else were they gonna do besides get hooked on the most insane, trashiest, unstoppably bingeable show of the moment? In hot pursuit, we rolled out “Cougar Queen,” a lesbian parody that spoofed the crazy cast of interviewees from the iconic documentary. Produced fully from performers’ own homes and directed virtually by Casey Calvert, the movie managed to interweave a compelling and hilarious narrative without anybody ever being in the same room!

Our Chief Creative Officer Bree Mills wasn’t one to rest either, giving birth to “Future Darkly: Pandemic,” a film encapsulating the trials of a world gone topsy-turvy. Exploring the ennui, angst, desperation, attraction, and hope that brews from isolation and solitude, Bree worked closely with the stars of each vignette to achieve a consistent tone and energy across all four parts of her brooding oeuvre.

And who could forget “Joanna Angel’s Lana”, produced by and starring acclaimed Burning Angel director Joanna and her real-life partner Small Hands. Carrying on in the tradition of her signature style, “Lana” blends raunchy sex, campy horror, and biting cleverness into a twisted tale of seductions most sinister… Shot in her own home, Joanna oversaw the entire production from start to finish – talk about a one-woman band!

Model Mode Activated: The Launch Of “Model Time”

Last but CERTAINLY not least, leads us to what stands out the most from our sojourn into remote productions: a studio entirely dedicated to showcasing independent adult content. With the apt name of “Model Time”, we put the conceptualization entirely into the models’ hands. At the core of this series, we wanted creativity to reign supreme. Seeking out interesting stories and perspectives, we had opportunities to work with plenty of our favorite models from our studio productions as well as some models we’ve never had the pleasure to shoot for any number of reasons. 

From puppet-packed mindfuckery to magical lesbian orgies to explorations of intimacy at a time when it’s needed most, we embraced the diversity of ideas and unique takes on sex and love as the series’ main charm, inviting viewers to get to know models better through the lens of their most personal work. And while Model Time the series has since been retired, it has laid the foundation for post-pandemic collaborations such as Switch, Intimately POV, With Love Lexi, and more which seek to uplift the visions of our talented and beloved ambassadors.

Lofty Goals: Practicing Safe Sets And Safe Sex

After several weeks of intense discussions, research, planning, and preparations, and with restrictions lessening in Los Angeles where our crews are centralized, we were finally in a spot to resume productions. However, we knew that we could not just go back to how things were before – it was up to us to maintain the safety and wellbeing of everyone who touched our sets in the name of Adult Time. We took several steps to ensure that we were taking the utmost precautions: a strict code of conduct borrowing heavily from similar guides published by mainstream studios; up-to-date COVID tests required for all crew and talent; and importantly, the rental and maintenance of a single location over multiple months. The loft, which had several staged sets such as residential rooms, offices, classrooms and a café, became our base of operations for getting our productions back off the ground. We had it professionally cleaned nightly, and logged all comings and goings from the building, allowing us to have unprecedented control and visibility over the environmental conditions of the facility. This gave us, our crews, and the talent we worked with some much-needed reassurance during a period when everyone was wary of going back out into the wide world again. While understandably, we would have loved for more location variety during that stretch of time, we were unflinching in our resolve that safety came first.

Post-Pandemic: Returning Back To Normal, Kinda

We were among the last of the major porn studios to start to lessen our regulations, as everyday life started to open back up again for the general population. We still maintain some of those best practices even now, to continue to stay vigilant towards present and future health scares that pose any risk to our co-collaborators. But we made it through the worst of it unscathed, and while the pandemic shifted around a lot of things about Adult Time’s future it never defeated us. Looking back, we realize this dear porn industry of ours is as resilient as it is resourceful. The challenges of that first pandemic year became a catalyst for redefining our approach to many things: how we manage our productions, how we connect with talent, even how we operate as a company. Our entire organization emerged from the pandemic’s rollercoaster as a tightly-knit, unconventional family. What felt like a wild team-building exercise turned out to be a testament to our determination, adaptability, and unwavering support for the human side of the equation that makes porn so fulfilling to create.

Watch a full Model Time scene for free here!

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