“JOURNEY TO ITALY” turns 20. Yes, we were in production these very days 20 years ago!
“In 1997, Men of Odyssey made me an offer I could not refuse — helming a movie in my own country. The end result, Journey to Italy was nothing short of a disaster, despite its lofty budget. But it taught me a lot. I think of it as my hardcore boot camp.” (YNOT interview).
“We rented two Betacam SP cameras in Milan and converted the PAL originals into NTSC dubs here in Los Angeles. Imagine the dozens of bulky Betacam SP tapes and the hundreds of film rolls going through customs. Imagine the costs of renting video equipment in Milan, converting the tapes into a different system and of developing film.” (XBiz interview)
“His ‘Journey’, however, was the first gay porn to take a shot at non-linear editing”, continues XBiz. “It was cut on a gigantic Avid Media Composer — using the same post-production house and same editor (both expensive) Kazan had used for a mainstream feature a year earlier”.
Below the press kit Men of Odyssey sent out (to look like Derek Cameron’s own photobook… nice touch) and the Derek Cameron interview in Italian monthly “ADAM” (“Piu’ bello di cosi’ “)
Our first Italian production. Filmed these very days of May… 19 years ago for Men of Odyssey. 19 years… so many things have changed since: porn (as a genre), the internet, piracy. Here’s the DVD cover, with gorgeous Derek Cameron, and newcomer Davide Solari. Feeling nostalgic
It’s our 15th b-day. Part 1 of a tell-all docu is live today at LucasKazan, with a look at the beginnings: “Journey to Italy”, “The Summoner” and, of course… those wondrous boys (Derek Cameron, Jake Andrews, Davide Solari, Gianni, Michele, Bruno…)
“This beautifully photographed and edited movie is the first gay porn film to be shot in Italy”, writes the ADAM GAY VIDEO GUIDE. “The scenery is almost as gorgeous as the men. Ivan is one of the handsomest guys we’ve ever seen (…) Derek’s scenes sizzle –he just comes on fire with a dick in his mouth or ass…” From a technical stand point, “Journey” was also the first gay porn flick to be edited non-linearly on an Avid Media Composer (back when porn movies were cut linearly on a Betacam deck): 15 years later, sophisticated editing and color-correction softwares are within everyone’s reach –on everyone’s lap top. Ah, technology!
Upon wrapping production, Derek and I visited with George Duroy in Bratislava. Derek had long been a BelAmi fan and I was happy to introduce him to the boys. Sexy Ion Dovidov took Derek out to the clubs and director/producer George Duroy gave him a taste of Czech hospitality, showing him around Prague. Fast forward to Journey‘s release: the great expectations led to extra-ordinary visibility, especially in Italy: magazine covers, posters, full-page ads, TV and radio interviews… I didn’t waste any time and began a second round of casting calls for Journey 2. I flew Derek back to Italy for the first gay porn star appearance on stage in an Italian club and at the Misex, Milan’s yearly trade show. News of Derek and the upcoming castings were everywhere –from the main papers (LaRepubblica) to the gay press. With the glamor and the excitement I haven’t seen since. Pictured here, super star Derek Cameron in his “Journey” days.
Back in the US, we began editing on the AVID Media Composer. Yes, Journey is the first gay porn edited non-linearly (by a pro film editor) –something I’m proud of. Processors at the time weren’t as fast as today’s: we had to import the footage at a low rez (AVR 5, in tech lingo) and re-import the final edit at full rez. With the inevitable artifacts. Men of Odyssey mounted a lavish campaign –including rich press kits and an exclusive event in Weho: everyone attended, porn stars, directors, producers, agents, critics, fans… and legendary Jeff Stryker –in a rare public appearance. Hard to believe the many expectations and the incredible buzz a porn release would build then (to be continued…)
Busted! Yes, the tie Derek wears in this promo pic for Journey to Italy is the same Jim Bentley (of Falcon fame) wore in “Matinee Idol” (with Ken Ryker). My tie, in fact. I’d long had a crush on Jim and when I landed the Production Manager gig on Matinee Idol, that tie was my not-so-subtle way to tell him. Same goes with Derek, when I cast him in “Journey”: he remains, to this very day, one of the most beautiful faces in porn (if not the most skilled at deep-throating). Don’t you think?
What went wrong?, you ask. Thom Barron fired –with no replacement. Tuscany flooded for 10 days in a row (and I mean flooded: thunderstorms, hale, you name it). All outdoor locations lost (carefully scouted in the months prior). The truck down on the freeway. Derek on the verge of a nervous breakdown and the rest of the cast/crew not far behind… More? How about newcomer Dario cumming into his condom? Or my mobile lost in the fields? “Journey” wasn’t meant to be, not in Catholic Italy. And yet we got to the finishing line (…to be continued. Pictured here Derek Cameron)
We began filming in May ’97, flew Derek Cameron from LA (our American star) and mixed a few European pros with the many Italian newcomers: Erik Kovak (on loan from BelAmi), Wolff (from Germany) and Thom Barron (the Men of Odyssey executive producer didn’t like him and sent him back home. Big mistake: Thom went on to become the Thom Barron everyone knows and one of Europe’s all time fave). Well, everything went wrong that could go wrong. Talk about a baptism by fire… (to be continued. Pictured here newcomer Davide Solari)
JOURNEY TO ITALY is 15 years old today. It all started with a simple bet: what kind of applicants would we attract, if published a few casting ads in Italy? Hundreds of applications poured in –most inadequate (what were they thinking?), many others promising. I held public auditions in Rome and shopped the project around with the biggest porn companies of the time. I wanted (needed?) a big budget, lush locations, a long production schedule, an American star..: there were only a few studios that could afford this much. Men of Odyssey had released “Idol in the Sky” (starring Ryan Idol) and was looking for the next blockbuster. They called me in for a meeting… More postings, tidbits, background stories throughout this month. Celebrating 15 years of Italian gay porn. And more to come.