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Conversations with Benjamin Bratt

Porn Valley- I had a chat with Benjamin Bratt Tuesday night. Bratt had just wrapped up a movie he was shooting for Mitch Spinelli’s Acid Rain. Bratt’s movie is POV and thinks he may have been the first to shoot a D.P. POV. On Tuesday, Bratt shot Courtney Cummz and Brooke Haven along with Sasha in that scene. “I shot basically 20 minutes of myself with the two girls and then I introduce Sasha. I put myself in positions where I’m screwing the girl and can turn the camera and get a good view of Sasha.” Also in the movie are Mary Anne, Hailey Scott, Hillary Scott and Alicia Alighotti.

Bratt’s calling the feature Ben Bratt’s Filthy POV Editions. And before he got started with the project, Bratt watched maybe 12 different takes on that theme and came up with the conclusion that most of the POV’s were boring with a few exceptions like Mike John’s. “Mike John- they call him the king of POV,” says Bratt. “He does his number.” For his part, Bratt wanted to do something with energy and had the camera put on his chest. “The last thing you want to see is the camera bobbing up and down,” he says. “But this allowed me to go off and do my thing.”

Bratt, who’s from mainstream television, has been working with Spinelli pretty consistently for the last year and a half. “I became the the guy he turned,” to says Bratt. “I’m the first guy he books for all his scenes, and I always gave him 100% full-on scenes.” But this isn’t the first time Bratt’s directed. He shot a couple of movies for the company, Colossal.

“At the time they were getting started and had no focus,” he notes. “The owner wanted me to do some gonzo features so I did two movies- they were not bad- but the problem was that I was using a staff I didn’t want to use. The energy is there in the movies but the camera work is so disappointing. I had a disagreement with the owner. I said this isn’t quality stuff. Let me use who I know that have been doing it longer.”

Bratt was approached by Spinelli maybe six months ago with the idea that he was going to need some directors as well. It was Spinelli’s suggestion to try a POV and if that worked, Bratt would have a regular directing gig. “And I had a good staff this time so it came out well,” Bratt says.

Though it seems longer, Bratt has been in the business since February, 2003. Bratt, a television producer for mainstream documentaries, got his start in Vancouver. He left New York after 9/11. “The business, financially, wasn’t doing well,” he says. “I had saved money so for a year I hung out. I dated a flight attendant so I was traveling around the world with her. I came back to Vancouver but I couldn’t get a Visa to work.” Bratt explains that a friend of his worked for an American-owned Internet company in Canada and got him involved in doing Internet reality porn on the order of Bangbus and MILF Hunters. “I met the owner and he said we could use some help.”

According to Bratt, the company was an Internet provider and they started discussing strategies and what kind of content to shoot. “We would shoot like 20 scenes and would then launch a site with ten of those.” Bratt points out that he wasn’t performing in the beginning but got into it when he couldn’t find reliable performers. “I would have to do it myself.”

Bratt was also told he was pretty good by a company that was supplying scenes to Elegant Angel. Bratt thinks they might be out of business by now. “But they would shoot scenes and sell them to their clients like Elegant.” Bratt remembers talking a crew to Montreal for a shoot and met some more people who urged him to go to California. While in Vancouver, Bratt had heard about Mark Ashley. “He came to visit me in my office. We talked. Ashley told me the best way to get to L.A. is come with a girl.” Bratt then quit his job, packed his stuff in storage and came with a girl named Taylor Rox. “She did like five films then quit,” Bratt recalls.

Bratt, who came to town with Rox, had heard some good things about World Modeling. “They heard some good things about me and took me in. They were really good at booking me.” Since then, Bratt feels that he’s managed to accelerate through the business and conduct himself with some level of integrity. Bratt describes himself as a hard worker who neither does drugs nor drinks. “I’m very disciplined.” Bratt feels that if you want to maintain a level of excellence you can’t be doing 10 scenes a week. “It’s hard. There are those who can do it but I want to give a 100% in every scene I do. I also want to be reliable where it’s said this guy doesn’t fail.” His same philosophy prevailed for directing. “I knew if I wanted to direct I had to be that good as a performer and show people that this guy knows what he’s doing,” Bratt says.

Asked how he got his porn name, Bratt said when he lived in Vancouver he wore a goatee and his hair was shorter. “People would come up to me and say I look like Benjamin Bratt.” One time the porn Bratt went to an Indian restaurant and the owners were having a family birthday party. The restaurant was closed when he walked in.

“The daughter ran up to me and said don’t I know you? You’re in a television show. Like a police show. A friend of mine nudged me and said he’s on Law & Order. She’s, like, you’re an actor! You’re Benjamin something. So she runs off and she’s telling her friends about us. I’m thinking maybe we can get our meal for free. They invited us to sit down. We sit down. The daughter’s coming up to me- can we have your autograph? Can we take pictures of you? My friends are cracking up. But we did get the meal for free.”

After that experience, Bratt said he was going to use that name in porn. “I just stuck with the name and I thought it would be good marketing. Benjamin Bratt is known but he’s not that known.” Bratt said he’d get that all the time, people telling him they know him from somewhere. Bratt would go to a set and get that glint of recognition which helped him a lot. “I’ve seen you I’ve heard about you- and this is coming from people who never met me.”

According to Bratt, the business is all about schmoozing and having a good attitude. And Bratt said he would come into World Modeling and rather than just sit around, he’d be aggressive for work. “I didn’t want to be one of these guys hanging around like Tony Sexton or these other guys. I would get the calls.” Bratt is also quick to lend thanks to director Chris Dreams. “He discovered me in a gangbang. It was like ten guy and I was controlling the whole scene and stepping in and giving him the shots. He came up to me and said you can be a good performer- you can be as good as any of these guys- go watch the European performers. Go watch Tony Ribas and Manuel. Do your homework and see how these guys perform. Then develop your own style. But look at how they open up for the camera. Look how they communicate. Look at how they flow.”

For his part, Bratt likes to do a 20-minute run and make the scene as fluid and graceful as possible to enhance the jerk off factor for the viewer. “Because it’s non-stop and there’s no cuts. You watch a scene like that with Manuel and Tony and you see these guys know how to open up and give the energy. They do an ATM. They tell the camera what they’re going to do. They pull their dicks out and pull the girl to them. They don’t go around and put their man-ass in front of the camera. They know how to make the girl come to them, always knowing where the camera is, always knowing where the lights are, always knowing where you re in the scene.”

Bratt states that such on-camera discipline has helped him immeasurably as a director. “I know where the camera is and I know where the shot is.”

According to Bratt, his movie went about 90% according to plan and how he wanted it to be shot. “Being new to directing porn on this level, to have an artistic sensibility and to have good visuals, like anything, you have to develop experience.” Bratt also credits his lighting guy, noting that there’s a trend towards natural lighting. “For me being in television, I have a different opinion about that. Natural lighting is good if it can be done but even professional photographers in the sun will use lights. Any time you turn the human body, light will angle and hit it and look different. You have to make lighting even.”

Even if you’re shooting gonzo, argues Bratt, you can still be aesthetic about it. “I found this lighting guy- he used to be in mainstream TV- and today we had a scene. There was a leather couch against a maroon wall. He’s like, hey, why don’t we pull out the couch maybe five inches, put sandbags in back of the couch so it doesn’t bang against the wall. Then we put a long light that comes up and offsets that flat maroon so when you’re looking at that video, there’s dimension. Here it’s gonzo and it’s supposed to be gritty but there’s a level of aesthetics there.”

Bratt said he would have loved to have ended Tuesday’s scene with a creampie out of one of the girls asses with some cum swapping between the two girls. “But they were, we don’t do creampies and we don’t swallow. Okay. But that’s how porn is. You have to adapt. But for the most part, I got one creampie in the movie. I’ve got girls sucking cum off the table, shooting through the table underneath. Another girl is eating it off the plate; another girl is drinking it out of a cup. But there was energy. And even in the grittiest kind of sex the performer can convey a level of sexiness. My philosophy has always been, even if you’re sitting across the table of a luxurious restaurant with a woman who’s dressed up, or fucking the shit out of a woman, if you can make her feel sexy, you’ve got her. You’re using the same energy either way- telling her she looks beautiful and connecting with her. You connect with her, she opens up to you. And that’s what I try to bring into a scene.”

That’s under the best possible circumstances, notes Bratt, conceding that, yeah, you’ll work with a performer who has a bad attitude or a girl who has no sense of her sexuality. “Even though she’s in the sex business.”

For him, porn is a business, says Bratt. “I don’t really socialize. I live in Santa Monica close to the water. I want to be able to go home and get away. I don’t want to bump into people at Coffee Bean.” He laughs at what he’s just said. Bratt, an avid, surfer, travels as often as he can. “I want to keep refreshed because you can get jaded,” he explains. “You can get bored and burnt out. Every two months I go somewhere different.” Bratt just got back from a surfing trip to Costa Rica and in recent months and plans a trip to India this fall. “And I’ll go to Brazil and then I’ll be in my home country which is the Dominican Republic. It’s healthy for me because I get away from everyone and go and do my thing. I surf and I kite board. Then I come back and feel really refreshed and inspired.”

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