How to Film a Sex Tape with Holly Randall

By Vanessa Butler

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<p>We ask host of Playboy TV's Adult Film School to give us the ins and outs of filming a sex tape.<br></p>


Want to know absolutely everything you need to film your own sex tape? We sat down with Holly Randall, Playboy photographer, porn director extraordinaire and host of the new Playboy TV show Adult Film School, which premieres November 2nd at 9pm EP, to get the scoop on filming in the bedroom.

Playboy.com: When filming Adult Film School, what was the one major misconception that kept coming up with couples?

Randall: That you didn’t need to put any kind of thought or effort into lighting! That was the biggest problem, because a lot of people don’t understand lighting and a lot of people don’t understand that a camera doesn’t see the same amount of light that the eye sees. Basically, the eye can see a certain amount of f-stops (about f/8.3 in a very brightly lit place to f/2.1 in the dark) that the camera cannot see. So people don’t understand why something looks good to them in their eyes, but when they take a picture it looks absolutely nothing like it. So that was the biggest problem. Another common issue with camera lighting, especially smartphones -- which is what most people shot in -- is that it’s doing an automatic lighting evaluation. If you have a really bright light behind you, like if you’re shooting in front of a window or a bright lamp, what the camera is going to do is look for the brightest thing in the room and it’s going to adjust for that. So if the brightest thing in the room is behind you, you’re going to end up being very very dark, essentially a silhouette. That was what I saw a lot of, and obviously it’s a big issue for those who are making their own home sex tapes.

Playboy.com: What kinds of accessories do you need to film?

Randall: A decent camera would be a good start! Secondly, some kind of decent light source; most at-home lighting is from the ceiling, which is going to give you an overhead light, which is generally not attractive because it’s simply lighting the top of you instead of, say, the front of you. So if one has a nice large window that a lot of ambient light comes into, it’s best to set up the camera in front of the window, shooting away from the window, allowing it to light the couple. Window light is a beautiful light, and essentially that’s the best at-home lighting you can do without going out and buying expensive lights and learning how to light a room, which is kind of a pain. So that’s the easiest way to take good pictures or to get good video: use the ambient light in your home.

Playboy.com: So before I came into the interview I asked the girls to "speak now or forever hold their peace" in terms of sex tape questions, and tips for people filming from laptops came up. I feel that it kind of falls into the same jurisdiction as a smartphone.

Randall: You can get a webcam that attaches to your laptop; there are some pretty decent HD ones out there. Nothing is going to be better than buying a real video camera, but those are expensive. But those are far better than trying to use the built-in webcams because those are generally a focal length, which means a wide angle, and it probably has a low resolution. So if you want to film into your laptop, you’re better off going out and investing in a webcam that you can attach and run into your laptop. That will allow you to get in a little closer on the action and just generally get a better overall quality.

Playboy.com: Okay, we’ve set up all the cameras and we’re ready to go. What should you be keeping in mind when shooting? Should you lose yourself in the moment or are there pertinent things you should be doing?

Randall: You want to be aware that if you want to watch this and actually see something you’re going to have to open up to the camera. Obviously you want to enjoy yourself and you want to see yourself enjoying, but you have to keep in mind that there is an audience, which is the camera. So if you’re just going to do missionary with your legs wrapped around your guy the whole time and you guys are staring each other in the eyes and kissing each other, that’s great, but all you’re going to generally see is, as Shakespeare calls it, a beast with two backs, which is just two bodies pressed together and the top of somebody’s back. You’re not going to see any penetration, you’re not going to see any facial expressions, and you’re not going to see anything like that. You want to be aware of the camera, you’re going to try and turn your face to the camera. If you’re in the moment and about to orgasm, don’t turn your head away from the camera, turn towards it so it records the enjoyment on your face. That’s another thing that you really want to keep in mind.

Playboy.com: For the show, did you do any sort of POV gonzo stuff or was it just a camera on a stand?

Randall: No, I definitely did. I do this when I film all of my stuff. I change my angles several times; I’ll shoot over one of the performers’ shoulders to make it look like the point of view of the people in the couple. And there were times, like if the guy was going down on his wife or girlfriend, I would shoot over her shoulder and would ask him to give me eye contact like I’m his partner so that it looks like the camera is the point of view of the girl.

Playboy.com: Are there any grooming tips for couples going into this?

Randall: That is quite important! You generally want to at least trim your pubic hair. Actually, it’s a nice tip for guys, because if you trim or shave it, not only will you prevent pubes for going into your significant other’s teeth, which is neither sexy nor fun, especially if you have to stop to take it out, it also makes your penis appear larger because there is less hair. It looks like it stands out from the skin further. So the guy and the girl should both trim the hair down there.

Playboy.com: So let's say a couple's filmed their sex tape: Ownership. How do you have that conversation?

Randall: That’s a good question. That’s kind of an awkward question and is something no one has ever asked me before. Obviously, when I film people, they have to sign a model release because as a professional that is something that you have to do. Now, if you’re doing something with your significant other, I think that in general you’re going to have to place trust in them that they’re not going to go and show it to all their friends. With those leaked sex tapes that companies put out with celebrities throwing a whole fit and crying about how they got ahold of this tape, a lot of people aren’t aware of this, but you can’t put out sexually explicit material and you can’t distribute it legally without a model release and ID verifying age. So all of those “sex tapes that celebrities are unaware of,” they all had to sign off on a model release, had to provide ID and 2257 paperwork. Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian... They were totally in on the deal. So there’s no way that people can legally distribute your sex tape without your consent. So that’s something that hopefully puts some minds at ease, but if you have a vengeful ex who feels like sending out the sex tape to all their buddies, unless you feel like suing there’s not a lot you can do about that.

Playboy.com: How long do you wait to watch it? Should you just pop it in right after or take a couple of days?

Randall: I don’t know. After I’ve had sex, I don’t want to get back into it right away; I’m generally pretty tired. So unless it’s a marathon session and you want to watch it right away and it’s going to get you going, I think you should wait a couple of days. The whole purpose is to excite you and your partner and to get you guys in the mood for doing it again. So I would put it in when you’re in that mood and you want to go for it again. I wouldn’t put it in right away; I would leave it for a couple of days, let the excitement build and then watch it.


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