Lance Hart — Why Ethical Porn?

Article by · May 18, 2017 ·

By Lance Hart. 

I do not believe anyone intends to be unethical. I believe good people cut corners when they are desperate. Some people defend those errors instead of owning them and saying “Hey, I’m really sorry I forgot to provide food for our long shoot today. What do I need to do to make this a good shoot for you?” It’s a matter of owning our shortcomings and being willing to sacrifice a little to provide an ethical work space. If this means spending a tired evening emailing and DM’ing with models to communicate properly about upcoming bookings when we really just want to lay down, so be it. If this means making a little less profit because a model is vegan and can’t eat pizza on set, so be it. If this means missing an update because we can’t find a model who’s limits meet our shoot needs, so be it. Doing the right thing sometimes requires work. Unethical behavior is normally a product of laziness.

Doing the right thing sometimes requires work. Unethical behavior is normally a product of laziness.

I poked around this site, and I’m seeing a lot of great info about ethics. In the spirit of not being redundant, I’m going to focus on one part of our industry — Trade Shoots.

More than half of my production for SweetFemdom.com is done with trade. Most of my personal income is from this site. Normally I find a model who is also a producer who I think fits what my customers want to see, and we start talking. Often this conversation starts by Twitter DM. I make my own production needs clear and ask what they would want in return. Typically they want me to be in one of their movies. We discuss limits. If my model rate is less than their model rate, I compensate by covering travel expenses, hotel, camera people, location… When my model rate is higher than theirs, I ask for the same. There’s a few ways the trade happens:

1) Hour for Hour: We shoot whatever they want for an hour. Then we shoot whatever I want for an hour. We repeat until we are done.

2) Clip for Clip: We shoot a clip for them, and then a clip for me. Repeat.

3) Day for Day: We spend one day shooting for their production, then another day shooting for my production. I’ve done entire feature shoots for very cheap this way.

Do not share the content. Do not be lazy. This shares the root of everything that leads to an unethical trade.

The Problem – “But we don’t share the same customers, so it doesn’t matter…”

Stop being lazy. You do not know that you do not share the same customers. Think about how people spend money on porn. Think about your decision making process while you are masturbating. There’s just no telling where your mind will go and where your money will go. I’ve met with most of the biggest porn company owners in the biz. They have no idea who their future customers will be. Sure, they have affiliate link tracking and google analytics, but most of that data doesn’t give clear answers in the end of the day. Most large productions really have no idea if their paying customers are male or female, gay or straight… If they don’t know, you don’t know. Trust me.

Five years ago I never thought I’d be uploading my full scenes to Pornhub to gain rev share of the ad revenue. How would it make you feel if I uploaded the full version of a scene to Pornhub that you were also selling on your site? I had no idea I’d be negotiating with big production companies over the sale of my archive. I didn’t know I’d be digging through old scenes to find images to make banners and GIFs with. How would you feel if a scene you made in a trade won an award, but you got no credit because the other person submitted it first? Can you count on them to give you credit?

One time I did a shared trade with Sssh.com and thankfully they are awesome people and gave me credit on our AVN Nomination, but how much of a pain in the butt was that to them? Was it even fair? Honestly they did most of the work and spent all the money that day. I just modeled in the scene for free so I could use the content for my productions. In order for them to maintain good ethics, they had to do a bunch of extra work and include me in all their PR and nominations. Most people you trade with will not be as ethical and awesome as them. It’s just too much work. Just shoot exclusive trade, and it’s less tempting for anyone to slack and be unethical.

Also, if you decide to be lazy and just do one scene and share the content, a race begins the second the shoot is over. Who will post it first? Who will market it first? Sure, you might discuss this in a friendly way in the spirit of not screwing each other over. It doesn’t matter what your plan is, one of you will make more money than the other. Often one of you will make all of the sales and the other will make about $80 in sales from a shoot that took you all day. Someone will work for $8 per hour. The other will be well paid. It’s a bad deal. Don’t do it. The only case where this makes sense is if one of you is doing the trade shoot purely for fun. If that’s the case, have fun! But if you’re working for actual money, don’t be lazy. That’s the root of desperation which is the cause of unethical practices. If you are sharing content due the restraint of cumshots, I strongly suggest that you trade day for day. This requires one party trusting the other to show up for the second day, but it’s worth it.

[I]f you’re working for actual money, don’t be lazy. That’s the root of desperation which is the cause of unethical practices.

Often in porn, we trade shoot with our friends or lovers. It’s tempting to keep it casual, but there needs to be some official grown-up talk on some crucial points with each trade. Sometimes this all takes place over Twitter DM or text. Sometimes we have to do it on set before we start.

Have the “here’s what sells for me” talk. Provide a few options if possible. The person you are trading with might not want to do anal in a trade for you when all they need is foot worship for their content. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you think you are about to be in a lopsided trade. This will lead to bitterness, which will lead to unethical stuff

Is there a custom involved? Sometimes customers pay me for a custom vid and I get it done with trade and keep all the money. There’s nothing unethical about using trades to produce customs, as long as my time/effort for the other person’s content is equal to their time/effort in my custom video. It becomes lopsided when your custom takes more time and effort than the other person’s content. Customs tend to take 2-3 times longer than normal shoots because of the required attention to detail. Some people share some of the custom money with the person they are trading with. This is nice, but if that’s the case, why are you trading? The equation must be balanced, or one of you will be bitter.

Do the paperwork. I often trade with newer model/producers who do not have model releases. I have blanks prepared for them if I think they need them.

Get your content before you leave the shoot. “I’ll dropbox it to you later” can be dangerous. Bring a hard drive or SD card to the shoot that you plan to leave with. Ask ahead of time if the person you’re trading with uses Mac or PC so you don’t get stuck counting on them sending you the content later because your hard drive isn’t recognized by their computer. If you take the time to come prepared, you save the other person from feeling bad about forgetting to dropbox you the content and then later coming up with a reason to defend their laziness. If they offer to edit it for you, that’s nice, but remember this means they have your content on their computer now. This can lead to you being surprised that your content is part of their future marketing banner, or something like that. It might not seem like a big deal, but you did not get paid and worked for free in that case.

Is the person you are trading with new to producing? Do you feel that they might not have an actual plan to make a profit from their work with you? Speak up! You don’t have to mansplain porn to them, but offer help. If they do not make a profit, they are likely to eventually feel burned and used. Especially if your content sells well while they are just randomly uploading their stuff to Manyvids and wondering why they only make $200 per month. Unfortunately there is an accepted guilty spirit of “Well it’s on them…” in our industry. I don’t act as a porn business consultant for free, but I’m always happy to talk a little strategy with new producers that I’m trading with. If we both make money, our industry gets stronger. If they fail, our industry gets weaker, more desperate, more susceptible to unethical comprimises.

Producing porn gets easier as technology improves. That’s the good news. Now every porn performer can own their own content. The bad news is our industry it getting fatigued by performers spinning their wheels making their own content and not making a profit. We have to look at this and make real efforts to push each other into success.

Lance Hart started performing in gay porn in 2008. He has since built the porn network PervOUT.com where he sells his own Straight and Gay content along with other people’s content. He is the Producer of SweetFemdom.com and ManUpBitches.com, and also produces content for Playgirl.com as their Spokesmodel. Lance regularly models for many Gay, Straight, and TS productions. Recently Lance Co-Founded PervOutPay.com, a sex work-friendly payment system to fill the void of discriminating PayPal, Venmo, Google Wallet, etc. Find him on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat @lancehartfetish.

1 Comment

  • comment-avatar

    Terrific article, and really appreciate the illumination of a specific part of the business, of production ethics specifically pertain to the partnerships within a trade shoot. And yet you still managed to add a particular broad-scale point to the discussion that I think is very important – too often the process that leads to making anything unethical (porn or not) begins with being lazy and taking the easy way out no matter who gets hurt, compromised or screwed (the bad way) in the process.


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