Mondo-Digital interview with Radley Metzger, director from the 1960s and 1970s most famous for directing porn films. (Safe for work):
A number of terms have become synonymous with your filmmaking style – “elegant,” “aristocratic,” “continental,” “precise.” How would you describe it?
In the area of eroticism, I think it’s easier to involve the audience if you deal with rich people. When you try to create total environments, you don’t want to deal with the question of how your characters make a living. So I had to keep everything very upscale. It’s a kind of seduction. I think audiences can be more accepting of a film if the atmosphere is different from their own. Hence the “elegant”. In order to have more money for the production, I shot in Europe. Hence “continental.”
Your range of actors ranges all the way from European arthouse names like Anne Vernon and Nino Castelnuovo (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) to adult film performers, yet you manage to elicit excellent performances in every case. What’s your approach to directing actors, and how do you select the women for your films? It’s been noted in fact that many of your actresses look more sexy fully dressed than most other actresses do unclothed; is there a method to finding actresses with this quality?
I think I used a deductive method – rather than an additive one. That is, I would always ask to see the worst film an actor had previously made. That way, I’d know what to emphasize – and more important, what to avoid. And I would over-shoot, so I had the luxury of not having to use every frame that I shot. A little like making soup stock. As far as finding suitable actresses, the secret word is patience. If you have a start date without a firm cast, you can have a problem.