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SPOTLIGHT: Behind a Thousand Faces

Thousand Faces, helmed by UK-based performer-producer Marcus Quillan, is a relatively new studio on the indie porn scene, having made their filmic debut in 2017 and a steady creation of films premiering at erotic and fetish film festivals in Toronto, London, Athens, Seattle, and New York. Most recently, the UK-based project expanded its efforts with a focus on its own self-hosted website, and new releases despite obstacles presented by the pandemic.

Learn more about their movies and mission in our exclusive interview with the multi-talented face behind a Thousand Faces.

 

SPOTLIGHT on a Thousand Faces

Tell us a little about Thousand Faces — how did the project come about and what got you started? What are your values of craft and production? And what does the name “Thousand Faces” represent?

We started a few years ago, after I attended the PornFilmFestival Berlin (PFFB) for the first time. I wanted to start making my own work inspired by more conceptual porn films, and knew I wanted to make an adaptation of a fringe theatre play I had been involved in exploring kink, specifically through pony-play. I was a part of the small theatre company behind it, and others from the company were really into the idea, so I wrote some scenes for myself and the play’s lead, Eryn Rose (also already a fetish model and performer), found a location, bought some basic lighting, and a couple of my theatre colleagues helped film on phones and a hired camera. That became our first film Unbridled.

The same small team, and Eryn too, have been involved with many of our films. The play it is based on was my first big entry point into the world of kink and the kink community, which is something I’ve kept wanting to explore with our films, whether it be through food-fetish eco-porn, comic dom-sub reversals, or representations of sex work. I enjoy small-scale, DIY production methods for the freedom they allow, and how they can make prioritizing communication easier, which can be particularly important with kink. I’ve learned a lot about the pros and cons of limitations in terms of production size, but have always centered performers, their interactions, and their handling of the concepts we come up with, which seems to work well.

I always wanted to involve all kinds of performance in my work, such as dance, music, physical theatre etc. I wanted to write original music for each film and have that become a key aspect. I also wanted to explore diverse performance styles, not just ‘authentic’ naturalism, or staged naturalism, or highly stylized stuff, but a mixture of everything, sometimes within the same film or scene. The name “Thousand Faces” came from this, and from the book Hero with a Thousand Faces, a key work on mythological narratives, by Joseph Campbell. To me the name signifies the many different ways we can express ideas and feelings through performance, art, sex, story: everything really.

 

Mathilde

The newest film, Mathilde, is inspired by Anaïs Nin, and positions the female subject as both object and observer, with the use of a mirror reflecting her own gaze and that of her lover. What inspired the film and how did you go about collaborating with its stars Nat Portnoy and Kali Sudhra?

I was captivated by the mirror scene in Nin’s short story: a woman pampering herself in preparation for her lover, but being carried away exploring her own body, a kind of performance for herself. Her lover finds her amidst this, extending the performance to another observer, as they then join and perform for each other. I had wanted to work with Nat and Kali for a long time, and had talked about Nin’s stories with Nat when we first met, then when I realized we would all be at PFFB together so it made sense. I wrote a treatment and asked which role they would each prefer. They had wanted to work with each other for a while so negotiating the dynamic was easy and fun.

As a performer yourself, how do you feel your experience behind the camera informs how you direct and what stories you tell? Who are some of your favorite producers to work for and in what ways have they shaped your own work?

My experience as a performer definitely impacts how I produce and direct performers. I will often write things in scripts that are quite specific but most things are usually optional for performers depending on how they relate to the material and of course their own likes and dislikes. I try to stay flexible so everyone can be happy doing their best work. As a performer, I really value transparency and communication, so I prioritize these when I produce and direct, as well as when I perform with others.

My films are often very performer-focused as well as conceptual, using performers’ own ideas, interests and skills to shape the story. I like this creative freedom myself as a performer, but also like to be directed, and everyone is different in which they prefer; so I always ask and try to gauge how much to write into a scene requiring specific direction as opposed to just giving an outline and being more ‘hands-off’ as a director.

 

Who are some of your favorite producers to work for and in what ways have they shaped your own work?

I have loved working for Anoushka in France; for her website notasexpert.com and the feature film Blow Away for Canal+. She writes beautiful, creative scenes, but also completely defers to performers on how they want to perform with each other, letting a scene run in whatever direction it takes. I love this balance and try to find it in my own work as much as possible. I also love the family feel of her sets, with cast and crew who know each other well and are often close friends. I try to emulate this feel also.

 

You’ve recently launched your own website, a goal for many new producers though one that comes with many obstacles. What challenges have you had? What rewards?

We just launched our new website at the start of this year, which is something I’ve been building for a while as I’ve always wanted to have all our films available in the same place, along with our story and those of our performers, all presented together in our own way. This is extremely difficult to do with adult content, due to the difficulties, rules, and expensiveness of web hosting, video hosting, payment processing, and site building. Luckily I found Kim Cums who runs Bumbershoot Creative, as well as producing and performing porn herself, who was incredibly helpful in bringing the site to life.

Finances are definitely the biggest challenge with making and running a website like this, as well as keeping production going, along with the time and effort required. It’s definitely a long-game, and I don’t want to compromise on the way we work, so making money will always be difficult. But if we can break even someday I’d be more than happy. 🙂 It’s a passion project and the priority is always supporting performers and other creatives, always paying industry standard rates or above, while making the best and most interesting work we can.

 

What’s next for Thousand Faces? How has the Pandemic impacted your work? Where can people find or follow you?

It was great to have the site to focus on during lockdowns and the pandemic, as it was difficult to shoot for a long time. But we have found ways to keep creating: filming a socially-distanced, voyeuristic mutual-masturbation film last Summer, as well as a couple at home together doing amazing rope-play, and an international phone-sex session that I just filmed yesterday! Luckily we also have had a backlog of films to edit, so we’ve been able to release films even more regularly than before, and hopefully this can continue.

 

Follow Marcus on Twitter and Instagram, and Thousand Faces on Twitter and learn more at ThousandFacesFilms.com.

Watch Thousand Faces on PinkLabel.TV

Mathilde behind the scenes

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