Imagine driving down the swanky streets of Miami, along Collins Avenue or passing by Fisher Island, nodding every time you pass a house or apartment where porn was once filmed. If you only knew, your head would never stop nodding.
That's the sort of inside-knowledge Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus have whenever they drive around the city. The former Miami Herald writer and photographer turned filmmakers have become experts on the subject of pornography, especially the strange niche of "amateur reality," and its production in our always-magical city.
In their latest documentary, Hot Girls Wanted, Bauer and Gradus venture deep into the Miami porn scene to undercover the reality behind the façade and shine some light on the truth.
The journey to Hot Girls Wanted first started when Bauer and Gradus were filming their first documentary, Sexy Baby (2012). Sexy Baby deals with "what it's like to grow up and live in the digital age," explains Gradus. It was through their exploration into the lives of young people that they learned about amateur reality porn.
While filming scenes in Miami for their 2012 documentary, the filmmaking duo was naturally exposed to the porn industry. The two agree that unbeknown to most residents, Miami is actually a huge hub for the porn industry.
The two went to college campuses and talked to students about the type of porn they were consuming, they found that most-watched type featured innocent looking girls who were more "the girl-next-door and not sort of your more traditional porn star," says Gradus.
A lot of the porn Bauer and Gradus explore deales with the same narrative: "let's see how far we can get this girl to go, let's see if we can talk her into this, let's see if we can get her to have sex for money." There's also plenty of fanned out dollar bills and the correlation of sex and money.
The amateur reality genre is a type of porn that's made to look real and often stars young women who are actually having sex for money for the first time. "We were just really interested in who those girls were," comments Gradus.
With the direction of their new documentary set, it was time for Gradus and Bauder to find their "in" into the porn world. "Miracle of miracles, we were able to get into a porn agent's house and then follow some of the girls," Bauer says.
"We can't tell you how all porn is made," comments Bauer, "but we can tell you how this particular type of porn is made... with Hot Girls Wanted, we're saying: okay, this is how it's made, these are the type of girls that generally get into it, and these are their stories."
Comparing their documentary with the 2004 Super Size Me, Bauer says that Morgan Spurlock exposed the realities behind the types of food people were consuming: "Morgan went around and said this is what your fast food is made of, pay attention to what you're eating." So, in the same regard, Bauer and Gradus want porn consumers to know what goes into the production of the movies they watch.
One of the questions they raise in the film is should there be some regulations to this new type of porn? According to Gradus, amateur reality is "largely unchecked and there are people taking advantage of that."
In Hot Girls Wanted, the filmmakers use a number of montages to show the type of culture that these girls are the product of. The idea for that inclusion came from one of the producers of the film, actress Rashida Jones. Bauer explains how Jones was "very much involved while we were making the film" and how she encouraged the cultural montages in order to establish influences.
"She was very instrumental in encouraging us to put in montages into the film," adds Gradus, "so we do and there are some clips of reality TV, music videos, and social media... just to kind of show that women are sexualized everywhere."
Bauer clarifies that she and Gradus are in no way advocating against pornography -- and at the same time, they are not advocating for it either -- they are simply highlighting facts.
"What we would love the film to do is sort of be a wake up call; it's fine for these images to exist, but we need to pay attention to it and not turn a blind eye and walk away from it pretending that they don't exist."
Hot Girls Wanted screens tonight, March 9, at 7 p.m. and on Wednesday, March 11, at 9:30 p.m. at Regal South Beach. Tickets available at miamifilmfestival.com. The film is slated to be released via Netflix sometime this summer. The exact date is to be determined.
Miami International Film Festival: now through March 15 at various venues around town. Regular screening tickets cost $9 to $13; special event tickets range from $12 to $150. Call 844-565-6433 or visit miamifilmfestival.com.
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