Kayden Kross Answers Questions About ‘Sun-Lit’
Kayden Kross has directed Sun-Lit, a dazzling effort that presents sex scenes shot in natural light. Adult Empire had a chance to chat with Kayden about this exciting new project. (Also don’t miss Kayden’s guest blog post about the movie.)
Will you describe the creative process from conceptualization to the final product for Sun-Lit?
The idea first came to me when I realized I was always trying to push room aside in the middle of the day to be alone with Manuel [Ferrara]. We both get so busy that we often don’t get any worthwhile time together until late at night. I missed that indulgent feeling of spending an afternoon in bed with someone. Once I started realizing there might be an idea to build on there, I worked backwards through some of the other sunlit afternoon sexcapades I remember. Sometimes they are indulgent, but sometimes they are hurried and urgent. The reasons we find ourselves having sex in the daylight are often very different from the ones we have late at night.
How did you select the cast for Sun-Lit?
They all seemed like very obvious choices once I landed on them. I leaned heavily on Manuel’s input, and tried to get some variety. Eva Lovia [pictured above] doesn’t look like Karlee Grey doesn’t look like Valentina Nappi, for example, but they’re all individually stunning. In fact the only two I picked because their features matched were Ana Foxxx and Elsa Jean. They both have very petite, waifish bodies with small upturned noses and wide eyes. Once we had them next to each other on screen I couldn’t stop staring. They look so damn good together. I think the thing all five women had in common, more than anything, was that they have such smooth, clean skin that it wouldn’t matter what angle the light was coming in from or what time of day we were shooting. They are all flawless in any light.
How were you able to achieve your desired lighting schemes for Sun-Lit? Were any of the scenes shot with fully natural light?
All of the scenes began with purely natural light, although a few ran through the sunset and we had to add light to finish the scene.
What are some mainstream movies with memorable lighting schemes that inspired you?
I don’t think I was paying attention to it at the time, but there is a feel of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly to a lot of the shots. I love The Tree of Life. Very slow movement on handheld shots with occasional sun flares are the most beautiful to me.
How much room do you think there is in the marketplace for artistically oriented porn like Sun-Lit?
I think I’m about to find out. At the end of the day, it’s not going to be a matter of how artistic the shots are, but a matter of how much the sex affects the viewers through the lens of those artistic shots. That said, I think the shots do lend to the story of intimacy that the scenes are trying to tell, and if the story is told well enough, I think there’s plenty of space in the marketplace for sex that is taking place between people as opposed to sex that is a thing done by one person to another person.
What directors do you look up to in the adult industry?
Oh god, plenty of them. Radley Metzger, Candida Royale, Jackie St. James, Greg Lansky, Joone, Shine Louise Houston, Erika Lust, John Stagliano. I could keep going, but it would take so long to really finish the list.
Favorite mainstream actors/directors?
Natalie Portman, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Bryan Cranston. Directors Sofia Coppola, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Vince Gilligan, Abdellatif Kechiche, Terrence Malick, Julian Schnabel, Quentin Tarantino. And Brandon Dermer. He’s just wonderful and probably my greatest resource when my completely uneducated questions need answering.
What is the hardest part about directing? What do you enjoy the most?
For me the hardest part is not getting the locations I want. Budget is a huge constraint there, and then add the stigma that porn has and most of the projects are severely limited in that way. I make up for it as best I can with a very talented combination of camera work and set design, but until my budgets get bigger or the location selection gets wider that’s going to remain my biggest frustration. The most enjoyable part of this process, for me, is sitting with the editor after he’s done a rough cut of the footage. Seeing it come together and doing the final polishing tweaks make all of the long days and last minute concessions completely worth it.
When you feel creatively sapped, how do you get inspired?
Lately Instagram has been a treasure trove in that regard. Short fictions from writers like Anais Nin are a great inspiration. Real life events are wonderful. I pair the actress in mind with an image—whatever that may be—and then build from there.
In today’s world of piracy, how much do you have to compromise because of financial restrictions?
I am compromising nearly everywhere. The worst is probably location, and the second worst is probably in the way that I have to truncate all of the concepts to fit into something that can reasonably be shot in one day. We always think our accomplishments would be limitless if we had complete financial freedom though. That’s never quite true.
For dialogue scenes, how many takes do you typically do? What type of direction do you give the actors?
I know exactly how I want the dialogue delivered when I write it, so I give direction on where the beats are and where the inflection is and then film it until we get it. Typically it’s not too many takes though. I keep dialogue sparse because we are not trained actors and poorly delivered dialogue is distracting. I’d rather see a few well delivered words than a monologue regardless of what side of the screen I’m standing on.
Describe your working relationship with Manuel.
It’s a lot of me wanting stuff and him finally giving in because I ask so many times. A lot of emotions fly. When a shot lines up the way I want it, we both invariably get excited. When shots don’t quite line up, one of us invariably gets irritated with the other. What I appreciate the most is that he’s genuinely supportive and interested in what I’m trying to do with TRENCHCOATx. I think he sees the potential, and it deeply motivates me when I see that he’s impressed with footage we’ve created.
TRENCHCOATx is also newly signed to Adult Empire On Demand! Stream Sunlit here and watch for further VOD releases on AE from the studio in the near future.