Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Company of Wolves

The movie I shot with Lupus Pictures, "A Garden Party", just came out today. Time for me to post my behind-the-scenes report. My fellow international guest star Adele Haze already gave her account of our exploits in The annotated Lupus tweets, Remembering the Pain and Lupus marks in development. I recorded some first impressions (partly building on Adele's) right after coming back from Prague, in The Doubly Annotated Lupus Tweets. The full treatment I'm doing now comes in two parts: this one deals with the prehistory up to the shoot, the next one (which I'll publish next Wednesday) with the shoot itself. [Edit: Actually, I ended up writing three parts in total! This one here, and two more which deal with the shoot itself.]

("A Garden Party", featuring Adele Haze and me in the wolves den)

So, folks, this is all I'm going to write about today - prehistory. I'm sincerely sorry to tantalise you like this again, with another long-winded hors d'oeuvre before the meat and potatoes of the main course. Bear with me, I'll try not to be too boring. And it really has to be this way - if ever a project required delving into the background, it's this one. I mean, where to start? I've been a die-hard Lupus fan for almost ten years now. They still remain my favourite CP movie producer today. And even though I never met them in person until a couple of months ago, I have more personal history and more memories associated with them than with any of their rivals.

In other words, working with them was a long, long held dream come true. Now that I've done it, I feel a sense of "arrival", of a gap having been filled, even more than after my first movie. To really convey it all, I have to go back quite a bit.

Rigid East and I

The first time I saw a film by the wolves was in 2001. Back then, of course, they still called themselves Rigid East, and I had no idea that I would ever write a blog or become a part-time S&M pornstar. As a matter of fact, I was a complete spanko virgin, with no practical experiences whatsoever and no real contacts to like-minded people. All I had were my fantasies, the stuff I occasionally read or watched on the internet, and a fledgling video collection. Which was alright, I didn't desire anything more at the time. But I was always a major film buff, and it frustrated me to no end that most of the spanking videos out there were such a waste of time, that I couldn't find anything closer to the visions in my mind. There seemed to be nothing that even remotely resembled a decent film, or even decent porn.

Most of what I'd seen came from a glossy paysite called Hardchannels, which has long since ceased to exist. They had a couple thousand video clips you could browse through, most of it regular fucking, but a bit of spanking and CP as well. Of course, what passed for "spanking and CP" in those days, when a 5 MB clip was considered a big download, was usually rather pathetic. Contrived pseudo-BDSM play featuring fake-breasted bimbos in tacky whips n' chains-type dungeons. Lame, pointless crap by producers like Bizarre Video or London Enterprises. That's how awful it was! If you found one moderately attractive girl somewhere and she got four, five strokes with a cheesy little flogger amidst tons and tons of uninspired lesbian fondling, you could consider yourself lucky.

The best videos I had managed to locate so far were from California Star. They had some actual, "serious" punishment scenarios - schoolgirls, juvenile delinquents, secretaries. And they actually spanked the girls, sometimes even leaving visible marks. Whoa! That was the creme de la creme for me at the time. Still very far from perfect, but halfway watchable at least and containing the odd scene that was genuinely exciting. I had resigned myself to the fact that, in all probability, this was as good as it would ever get.

("Wild Party", an early Rigid East classic, 2000)

So that was the context when I discovered Rigid East, and you can imagine how that discovery blew me away. I still remember the exact time, January 2001, second week. Though not the exact details - I think someone dropped the name on a kinky Yahoo group I was reading, with the remark that those guys were making some pretty good stuff. Anyway, I followed the lead, wherever it was, and golly gee, it certainly changed my idea of what was possible in a spanking video. "Pretty good stuff", yeah... "Frighteningly perfect" was more like it!

It wasn't just that they had the most beautiful female victims and the hardest, most vicious CP action I had ever seen - beatings that made you wince in your seat, with welts, screams, blood and tears. It was the combination of all that with the stories they told and the effort at real filmmaking. The historical drama, the biting humour, the fairy tales... To find both of these realms united, one that pleased the sadist in me and one that pleased the movie buff, was almost too good to be true. It was a holy grail uncovered. Movies like that really existed! Which also meant that other people like that, like me, really existed - they had to be, if they made films like this. Quite a revelation for someone at this closeted stage.

Adding yet another facet to the appeal, you had the whole "Eastern European" thing and the fact that nobody knew anything about this strange Rigid East company at the time. I never bought into the urban legends claiming that they were criminals who abduct poor, starving Czech girls - even before first-hand accounts by people like Niki Flynn became available, you only had to use your eyes and a little common sense to figure out that this wasn't a very credible scenario. But the legends and the heated debates on forums like British Spanking did create a certain mystique, an aura of dread, which I thought was way cool. I love it when the self-important "moral outrage" idiots in our community get all huffy and hysterical about something, and I was thankful to Rigid East (whoever they may be!) for providing me with lots of entertainment on that front, too.

So, I became an avid admirer, I watched the company's development from "Rigid East" to "Lupus Pictures", and I kept following every title they put out. Wild Party and its sequel, Stalin, the Headmaster's Study series... Not all of them were timeless masterpieces - like everyone else, RGE / Lupus have put out their share of lesser videos and outright mediocrities over the years. But in their inspired moments, they are still the best in the business as far as I'm concerned. Rivals like Mood Pictures or Pain4Fem may have appeared, who also do severe, "tough" videos with gorgeous girls and slick production values - at times, even harder than their predecessors. But the Czechs remain the only producer who combines that kind of action with that level of "true" filmmaking ambition. This is what sets them apart.

(Niki Flynn in "The Exchange Student", 2004)

In 2004, La Grande Flynn burst onto the spanking video scene with The Exchange Student. The first Western model to work with the infamous werewolves from the East. The rest, as they say, is history. Here, my relationship with Lupus changes from simply being a fan to something that is more personal and had a much more profound impact on my life. In time, Niki and I got in contact over the internet, we became dear friends, and more than anyone else, she inspired me to explore my kink and my fantasies. By that time, I was no longer a spanko virgin, I had already met some people and played a couple of times. But it was Niki who really got the ball rolling. In Super Tuesday Serenade, I wrote that, without her, this blog would not exist - and that's the plain truth. By extension, it is equally true to say that, without Lupus, neither she nor "Ludwig" would exist.

When I say that I have more history with the wolves than with any other producer, long before I ever got to know them personally, this is what I mean. You have to keep it in mind to better understand what doing a video with them was like for me - hence the lengthy introduction. Even though I'd never been there, it almost felt like a sort of homecoming.

Developmental history of a picnic

The video itself - what ended up becoming Lupus title LP-068, "A Garden Party" - had a long and storied gestation period in its own right. It goes back to the middle of last year. I had recently started the blog, and even more recently done a few video clips with Niki. The latter was very much an experiment for me, an "extracurricular" thing - my main ambition as Ludwig was (and still is) to be a writer, a commentator, an observer. But since I was such a movie buff and a regular movie critic, it made sense for me to do one myself sometime. I wanted to get my own feet wet, at least once. So we shot the clips, which was a lot of fun, and we were planning to shoot a proper, full-length film sometime in the summer, directed by Lucy McLean of Northern Spanking.

For one reason or another, that never worked out, but in the meantime, I had started talking to Lupus on the side. I figured that if I was going to do one spanking film, I might as well do two! The wolves were the other dream I had, the other inevitable partners in crime - as with Niki, I felt that I simply had to do a movie with them. That it was meant to happen.

I was already exchanging emails with them on a semi-regular basis, about my blog, links, movie reviews, pirated files... One day, I ambushed them with my suggestion, disguised as a joke: "You know, now that I've shown you this newest trick on how to find hidden pirate links, I think you should give me a role in one of your videos as a thank you!" They replied in the same jesting spirit: "Would you like any role in any Lupus movie? That would be interesting!" I wrote back: seriously, you know I love your work, and if you like, I'll come to one of your shoots. I'll do a couple of interviews and a behind-the-scenes report for the blog, and who knows, maybe we can even collaborate on a movie later on. How about it?

(Katerina Tetova, Maximilian Schubert and Ester Slaba in "The Noise", 2004. They all star in "A Garden Party" as well. )

That was my plan at the time - just to go there and say hi, get to know everybody, and then hopefully do a shoot on a second visit. It seemed less daunting that way, and I thought that Lupus would also be more receptive about the idea if I gave them a chance to see me in person first (so they wouldn't have to buy the "cat in the bag"). But to my considerable surprise, they went straight for the full deal. I got a mail which I'm quoting verbatim here, to retain the "werewolf feel":

"To your question about movie: we think it would be possible together. Let us know if you would like to small role or bigger one, if you have any preferred scenario, ideas etc. We would prepare movie script for you in same way as for Adele or Niki. We would ask you for some your civil photo."

Wow.

That had been so ridiculously easy, I thought they were probably still kidding around. I didn't believe they were serious until Michal "Altair" Valasek wrote on the Lupus blog that one of the upcoming movies they had planned would feature a new guest star, an as yet undisclosed "spanking blogosphere celebrity". Fittingly enough, it was Niki who alerted me to the post: "Hey, man, you really are in trouble now!" Even then, a part of me kept insisting that they must be talking about somebody else. Blogosphere celebrity? Can't be me.

But of course, they were serious, so I had to think about answers. Small role or bigger one? Bigger! If I was going to make a fool out of myself trying to be an actor, I might as well do it thoroughly. Ideas for scenarios? Definitely the 19th century, the Austrian Empire, Bohemia under the Habsburgs. It was a time and place I loved as a historian. Also as a Lupus fan, because the Headmaster series was set there. With me on board, we could really explore the German-Czech history of the time. How about something set during the Prague uprising of 1848? That would be awesome. The girlfriends of Czech rebel leaders, interrogated by the Austrian secret police (which was almost as ruthless as their colleagues from Czarist Russia). Vicious canings, some political commentary about imperialism and oppression... In summary, loads of fun.

I sent them the proposal (together with a "civil photo"). They said okay, good idea. "We will film in October. Let us know which dates are suitable for you."

That was easy, too.

Then, a couple of weeks later, the October date fell through. I was bitterly disappointed, but Thomas Marco, the producer, wrote me a very nice email, saying that he was sorry, explaining in detail why he couldn't do any shoots in the autumn, how some things had come up which had to be taken care of first. He told me not to worry - our movie was postponed, but not cancelled. We would simply do it next year and he was very much looking forward to it.

Cancelled shoots are a part of the spanking video industry, you have to live with them. I told myself, well, I wanted the whole filmmaking experience, now I'm getting it! First Niki and Northern Spanking, now this one... Honestly, it was depressing. Adele had it even worse, though - she had three consecutive shoots that fell through. One of them was her own movie with Lupus, postponed for the same reason as mine. I could sympathise with how bummed out she felt.

Enter 2009, and I'm finally doing my first full-length video - with Mood Pictures in Hungary. It was the third project I attempted, and ironically, the first one that became reality. With hindsight, it was the perfect debut for me. No, it didn't have the same nostalgic attachment as Lupus. And it wasn't as sophisticated, either, not on the same level as a movie. But the beauty of it was that it was all uncharted territory. No one had been there before, I wasn't following in anyone's footsteps. So the story surrounding it was awe-inspiring. I felt that my four-part chronicle of the adventure was the best piece of writing I had ever done for the blog, hands down. I usually hate my scribblings within 24 hours of posting them, but this one was good.

At the same time, I still hadn't made a proper film yet. So I was glad to hear from the wolves again, only a few weeks later: "Hello Ludwig, we got this idea. There will be shooting with Adele Haze at June. Would you like to take role of officer who seduce two daughters, and then he has to punish them in front of their grandmother? We enclose former version of script. If you would agree, we would add your role to it."

(Adele Haze, with Niki, in her first movie with Lupus, "The Red Reformatory: Old Friends", 2007)

It was a totally different idea than the one we had been talking about previously (oh well, no 1848 revolution). But I liked it. I suppose that, after getting that elusive first video under my belt with Mood, I was a bit more relaxed and open-minded about these things - about what I wanted to do, what I didn't want to do, what the exact setting had to be. There is a certain freedom of thought that comes to you when you've got your debut out of the way. You feel that, now, you can basically try everything, take a chance. You become less set in your ways.

The thought of doing a comedy, of "seducing two daughters", of coming aboard Adele's film... None of it had occurred to me before. Six months earlier, I would probably have been reluctant. Now, I took right to it. It sounded like a fun little scenario, and I liked the prospect of doing a film with Adele. I was a fan of her blog and her work, and had in fact briefly met her once before, in the UK. The role of an officer was okay for me, too. It was probably a leftover from my "Prague uprising" idea. Also, it seems to be a natural casting choice for producers when they see me: "Young guy, early thirties, quite thin... Let's put him in a uniform!"

So I had a good feeling about it all. Of course, the thought of me doing a comedy was absurd. It's the hardest thing you can possibly try, and it makes for the most pathetic results when you fail. I should never have attempted it at this stage. I should have honed my craft with ten historical epics first, before daring to be funny. Doing a comedy as a second video was pretentious.

Needless to say, I liked it. I like pretentious.

Looking ahead

The filming was scheduled for late June. In the weeks before, there were the usual preparations - learning the script, trying the lines at home, caning practice with a pillow, arranging the trip, booking the hotel. To be honest, I was pretty distracted during most of it. I had just met my girlfriend Kaelah, we had just become a couple, and even werewolves have to stand back when Klingons enter the stage. Kaelah and I decided early on that she was coming to Prague with me (Lupus said she was very welcome, no problem). It was a pretty weird situation - we were together for a short time only, it wasn't long since she had received her very first spanking, and here we were, about to go to a shoot together. "That's what you get for picking such a strange boyfriend", I said.

The positive side effect was, I was so busy worrying about Kaelah and about whether or not she was going to be okay, I had no time left to worry about the film itself. So I approached that and my own performance in a state of utter serenity: "Ah well, it'll be fine!" I did some caning practice, but not for hours and hours until I had blisters on my hand, like before the Mood shoot. I had concerns about some of the acting scenes in the script, the dialogue, the funny bits, wondering if I'd be able to pull them off. But I didn't worry myself sick about it. I just prepared as well as I could, and the rest was going to happen one way or another.

Most of all, I was just happy that the movie with Lupus (the werewolves from the East, the big dream!) was finally about to become reality. I should have been totally intimidated by it, but strangely enough, I wasn't. I just felt satisfied and calm. There was definitely a lot of excitement, adrenaline, a determination to do a good job - but it was all positive, no self-destructive doubts.

So much for my frame of mind on the eve of travelling to Prague, and so much for the whole story so far. Again, I'm sorry to keep you waiting for the good stuff - you'll read about the shoot itself in a week. But in my view, the events leading up to it can be just as interesting in their way - the formative phase, how you get in touch with people, how ideas evolve and take shape, how you start out to do one thing and end up doing another. I hope that I was able to convey a little bit of that here.


(The trailer for "A Garden Party", which you can also download here)

Now, I'm going to watch the finished movie for the first time, which I actually haven't done yet. Then I'm going to have a major tantrum about how much I suck (the glimpses of me in the trailer look bad enough). Then I'll claw my way out of the depression somehow, and I'll sit my ass down to write the rest of the behind-the-scenes report for you. In the meantime, of course, you are all supposed to order the "A Garden Party" DVD. No matter how good or atrocious my contribution may turn out to be, I'm still proud to have done it!

Final remark before I leave you for today: did you notice how the movie is coming out, almost to the day, 70 years after the start of World War II? That's a bit weird! And I have no idea whether it is intentional on Lupus' part - probably not. But when you come to think of it, there is a wonderfully uplifting message here: seventy years after this terrible period in history (during which my country played the most abominable role), you have a team of Czechs, a German, and a woman from a former Soviet Republic, who now lives in the UK, making a kinky porn film together. Better times indeed.

13 comments:

Adele Haze said...

That's quite an essay there. Have you seen the film yet? You look pretty dashing.

Indy said...

Hey, I made it through! And it *was* interesting.

Does the DVD version have subtitles? No, I probably won't watch it--at least not the harder beatings, though it looked like there were some I wouldn't mind. But all the filmmaking is lost on me if I can't understand the words.

Ludwig said...

@ Adele: Yeah, I just watched it for the first time. The depression about my performance isn't quite as bad as I feared. There are one or two (or three...) parts that make me cringe, but overall, I think it's tolerable. Barely.

As you say, the look is the best thing about me here - "dashing" or however you want to describe it, I certainly look the part, with the uniform, the moustache and everything. And that's the most important requirement for this particular character, anyway. As for the acting, though, there is ample room for improvement. It's a good thing I didn't have too many lines.

I like the movie itself. I think you put it very well in your blog entry today - it isn't anything groundbreaking (and it was never designed to be, just a nice little comedy), but it definitely has a certain charm and flair, and the visuals are gorgeous. It's a cute little film, I'm happy with it!

@ Indy: Thank you, you devourer of long posts. I thought you might be one of the readers who would find this one interesting.

Yes, the DVD version has English subtitles (as does the download version, by the way). So I'm afraid that this excuse for not watching the film is out.

Niki Flynn said...

Oh well done and hearty congratulations to you both on what looks like a proper visual feast! "Happy times" indeed!

Abel1234 said...

I'm sure the near-anniversary is pure coincidence, but as an example on how our world today is so incomparably different and better, your final (very poignant and touching) paragraph couldn't be bettered.

Paul said...

Ludwig, a fascinating post, thank you.
I was born in Berlin in 1935, my Mother got us to England in '37 otherwise I would not be alive.
Like Abel I truly appreciate the difference between then and now.
I'm not a great fan of Lupus, but I do enjoy your posts, though they are a little loquacious. WEG
Paul.

urs0us said...

I'm a big fan of Lupus too. I don't like all of their films, but I love the Headmaster's Study series. Unfortunately there are some problems with my LP068 order, so I could only download the subtitles so far. But I'm looking forward to watching your Lupus debut and reading your behind the scene report.

Ludwig said...

@ Paul: calling my posts "a little loquacious" is probably one of the friendlier ways of putting it! Thank you.

Seriously, I do try to be brief, and I try to avoid "excess baggage". But I have to balance it with trying to be thorough. When you have a story like this one, or like Where No Man Has Spanked Before about how Kaelah and I met, got to know each other, became a couple etc., you simply cannot do it in 600 words. There are too many episodes, aspects, details, nuances. If you do it in 600 words, most of that gets lost. So you either do it properly, which requires a certain space, or you might as well not do it at all. At least that's the way I look at it.

So, my posts are very long at times, but I'd like to think that it's because I'm saying a lot of things. Not because I'm being verbose and going round in circles. When you look at the "information density", it's not all that bad, actually. Or is it?

urs0us: From what I heard, there was a little trouble with the first movie file they uploaded to the server, so they had to upload it again. That might be why your order got delayed a bit. I'm sure it will be fixed asap, though, if it hasn't been already.

Anonymous said...

urs0us: It should be ok now. There are even more versions available so you can download movie in better quality. If you would have any problem please send email to info@rge-films.com

Peter8862 said...

A test for verbosity in a writer is whether the unhurried reader tends to skip chunks of verbiage and skim through it for key words that convey the gist. Believe me Ludwig, that is something I have never done when reading your blog. It's much too info intensive!

As for the seventy year anniversary, I was seventeen at the time and extremely lucky to survive those six horrendous years. The memories must remain, however, lest it ever happen again.

Peter

Ludwig said...

Thanks, Peter, for the compliment on my writing. And I agree that the memories of 1939 to 1945 must always remain present with us, to prevent such madness from ever happening again. (Actually, that goes for the memories of 1933 to 1945 for us Germans in particular.)

And a quick update for all of you: the second part of the Lupus report will be a day late. I'll post it tomorrow, on Wednesday, not today on Tuesday as originally announced (and yes, I've edited the post above accordingly). Give me an extra 24 hours to get everything finished, it'll be a long one again.

Anonymous said...

ik was veel te laat thuis en mijn zus paste op en was boos ik moest me wassen en naar mijn kamer en zou 6 tikken met een bamboestokje krijgen op mijn bips eenmaal boven kwam ze met het rietje en zei dat ik moest buigen ik klaagde over buikpijn en toen kreeg ik een thermometer in mijn blote bips ik had geen koorts en kreeg toch nog 6 tikken met het riet en dat deed zeer!

Ludwig said...

In case anyone is interested, Irelynn Logeen was kind enough to translate the above (Dutch) comment for me. It describes somebody's fantasy, about how he was home late and his sister spanked him and took his temperature rectally.

Not on-topic, but it doesn't seem to be random spam, either. I'll just file it under the "weird comments" section. You get one of those every once in a while as a blogger...