THE SPACES BETWEEN: Filmmaker spotlight with Andre Shakti and Nikki Darling

Fans of Pink and White Productions will recognize the familiar faces of Nikki Darling and Andre Shakti, who have worked with director Shine Louise Houston on a number of projects, from CrashPadSeries.com to films like PUT the NEEDLE on the RECORD and SNAPSHOT. We caught up with the two performers in the midst of their busy schedules to learn more about their debut film The Spaces Between


PinkLabel.TV: What inspired the idea to make The Spaces Between and what conversations or connections made it possible?

NIKKI: The idea that made The Spaces Between were from a series of conversations that Andre and I both were having with our queer friends of color and each other, based on our personal experiences relating to the complexities and difficulties that arise when in a queer interracial relationship.

ANDRE: I’m a white woman who has been predominantly attracted to people of color. When I became active within social justice circles around six years ago, I began to think critically about the intersection of desirability politics and allyship. Once I was certain that I wasn’t motivated by fetishization or exotification in the desiring of the black and brown folx I was forming intimate bonds with, I also became deeply aware of my privilege, as well as of the uneven power dynamics inherent in any mixed race relationship. My number one priority then became shutting up and LISTENING to my POC partners. In addition to holding space for cultural, familial, and historical trauma, I also became privy to a lot of past trauma they’d endured from other white partners.

NIKKI: We specifically wanted to highlight the point of view of the POC individual when put in situations when they feel misrepresented in the context of their partner not being aware of their privilege or when something is said or done that is problematic.

ANDRE: A lot of times, as LGBT people, we like to think that we’re ethically and morally superior to the majority; that we’d never stumble, disappoint, or fuck up the way they so often do, especially when it comes to racism. Queer relationships are not exempt from the complexities of navigating race, class, and power dynamics, however, and our failure is often in assuming that our sexual orientation and/or gender identity alone make us “better”. I was moved to conceptualize this short film to fill a void of porn that also flaunts its politics, as well as create an authentic representation of how much PoC struggle in their relationships with the – often painfully oblivious – white partners they love.

NIKKI: We wanted to show how simple day-to-day microaggressions happen and how the perceptions of the outside world affects or doesn’t affect two people who come from different representations and experiences. Yes, we are both queer and that sense of identity links us together, however, how do we navigate the terrain of race and privilege when we come from opposing experiences?


PLTV: The film alternates between dialogue and sex. Why was it important to include explicit sexuality, and how does it being an adult film aid in its production and distribution?

NIKKI: We wanted to show the juxtaposition between understanding between the abilities to communicate in a sexual contexts vs. real life between these two characters. Intimacy and understanding was easier behind closed doors without the influence of individual and lived experiences. Showing that intimacy and understanding through physicality, while showing misunderstanding when it comes to the outside world and a partner’s inability to relate to the other’s experience was a very real thing we wanted to convey within this project.


“I did not expect to see a nuanced conversation about race in a porn screening, but I’m really glad I did. I need to go home and think about this.” ~ Audience Member


PLTV: The film has screened with HUMP! Fest, among others. What feedback have you received, and how does it meet any intentions or expectations you had?

NIKKI: We have gotten mixed feedback from different Festivals we’ve submitted to. It has mostly been received with support but we have definitely had to fight against, censorship and the ability to show our film. Race and representation has always been a subject of immense discomfort for people. I personally want to make people uncomfortable. When people are uncomfortable it forces them to talk about why they are feeling this way. it forces people to confront their feelings/ or ignorance about race and privilege in this country and the world. To make people talk about it, to open up dialogue that makes room for understanding. That has and will always be my goal in the films that I want to make and produce.

ANDRE: To be honest, the feedback we’ve gotten is almost exactly the feedback I expected us to get. Lots of people saying it resonated with them and expressing gratitude for its inclusion, lots of [white] people being bewildered and confused, and at least one film festival try to avoid screening it for fear that it was too “controversial”. So yeah, I’m pretty happy with all that, haha.


“We love without always having a shared language to bring our very different worlds together.” ~ Gabrielle Rivera


PLTV: The work includes a quote by queer Latinx writer Gabrielle Rivera. Why did you choose to end with this quote and did you consider other endings or resolutions?

NIKKI: We wanted to give a realistic ending, for a realistic situation. Oftentimes, there is not always a resolution where everyone understands the others’ point of view and gets along with one another. We felt it would be inauthentic to make a happy ending. We wanted to end with the quote because we felt those words were the most appropriate in what we were trying to express. What happens when people from different experiences and backgrounds based on their ethnicity and social privileges are confronted with day to day realities of how the world perceives them individually. How do you confront that in a way to make others understand, especially when that person is your partner? It’s difficult, it’s not easy and there is no right way or how-to book to navigate this terrain. Just like in any relationship we misstep, we don’t always listen, we get mad, we storm out, we break up, we make love, we get back together. None of these outcomes are good bad wrong or right they are just realities of how people deal with and internalize conflict.

ANDRE: I wanted to introduce an adult audience to a queer Latinx writer that they likely had not been familiar with. Additionally, I felt that Rivera’s vulnerable statement about the ways in which marginalized people love summed the film up better than any of my words ever could. I initially sourced the quote and sought Nikki’s feedback on it, and she agreed.


“We wanted to give a realistic ending, for a realistic situation… We felt it would be inauthentic to make a happy ending. ” ~ Nikki Darling


PLTV: For aspiring filmmakers out there: what are some of the technical aspects of creating the film? How long did it take, did you have a budget, and what help did you have?

NIKKI: This was definitely a labor of love for both Andre and I. We didn’t really have a budget. We both agreed to wear all the hats (direct, produce, write and perform) in the film. We got tickets to Vegas, and our mutual friend and amazing videographer Sebastian Keys was down to film it for us and we just jumped on the opportunity. We spent two days in Vegas, crashed and filmed at Sebastian’s place and took a day to shoot, and then went home and edited the project ourselves.

ANDRE: It cost us plane tickets and taking Sebastian out for a fancy dinner afterwards, haha.


Cheers to that! We’re glad to offer The Spaces Between on PinkLabel.TV and hope it also inspires new works of socio-political importance. There’s much more room to grow in the adult film industry, and movies like this can make a big impact. As Pink and White Productions director Shine Louise Houston has said, “there’s a lot of room and need to create adult content that’s real, that’s respectful and powerful. Porn is the perfect place to become political. It’s a place where money, sex, media, and ethics converge.” We welcome more politically-minded porn!

Watch The Spaces Between on PinkLabel.TV

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