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The Pornographer (1999)

R | | Drama | 5 March 1999 (USA)
A socially inept man's amateur porn film wins him a contract with a small-time pornography distribution company, where he faces a series of moral crises and is forced to face his own porn addiction.




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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael DeGood ...
Paul Ryan
Katheryn Cain ...
Security Guard -Jim
Marjorie Harris ...
Mariam Parris ...
Melinda Scherwinski ...
Franc Luz ...
Kristina's Father
Kristina's brother


A young, frustrated man (Michael DeGood) after indulging in prostitutes, makes some home pornography and decides to take it to an adult video producer (Craig Wasson). Promising fame, the young man is encouraged to go find ingenues to put in his films. This leads him to an innocent (Katheryn Cain), fresh off the bus in LA with actress aspirations. Ultimately the two are led into their own total humiliation and destruction. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content and language | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

5 March 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Imagemaker  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Paul Ryan: [Last lines] I did two years... they said I deserved more but you see I'll never be free
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User Reviews

Very Good indie that deserves more notice.
18 October 2002 | by (Chicago, IL) – See all my reviews

I first checked out "The Pornographer" because it starred my favorite B-movie actress, Monique Parent. First, I was surprised to see that Craig Wasson was also in it. Then, I was surprised to see that the acting all around was quite good. Finally, I was further surprised that this movie was actually very dark, serious, and thought-provoking, and wondered why it was I had never heard about it before.

Michael DeGood is quite good as the socially weak, sniveling protagonist Paul whose characteristics as such help explain his terrible luck with women. Craig Wasson turns in his best performance in years as Spano, the suave, cold and calculating porn producer. Newcomer Katheryn Cain is extra sweet and innocent, I hopefully look forward to seeing her in more movies in the near future. And of course, Monique Parent is beautiful as always and terrific in her role as the temptress pornstar turned renegade producer. I like seeing Parent in film festival-type stuff, and I hope to see her in more movies like "The Pornographer" (she's actually done several such films, though only a few have been picked up for distribution).

Most of the first act is devoted to analyis of the central character, as we see Paul trying to procur a date, failing everytime, and eventually asking out the hooker whom he regularly employs the services of. The sequence of him accidentally asking out a 15y/o girl is particularly gripping, as we are not sure if he realizes the girl's age, or actually has pedophilic tendencies (or, perhaps we are witnessing the unintended origins of such tendencies). Another scene that stands out for me is when he visits the private booth and talks via phone to the stripper behind the glass. I couldn't help but be reminded of the scene in "Taxi Driver" when Travis tries to get Betsy to go on another date with him, but similarly gets turned down.

So Paul, feeling utterly hopeless and dull in life, tries his hand at the subject he is most familiar with: pornography. He turns out to be somewhat of a natural at it, and is immediately taken under the wing of Spano (Wasson), who offers to give Paul the opportunity to make some 'real' videos (i.e. - with actors, not hookers). If, however, Paul can find a 'pure girl'. A chance accident leads Paul to meet such a girl - Kate (Cain). But Paul fails at getting close to her, of course, and instead of meeting Spano's challenge, Paul opts for the quicker, easier route of making lesser quality videos for Charise (Parent). However, she soon turns out to be simply using Paul for her own personal gain, and so he finds himself back to Spano and his challenge to Paul. Ultimately, we come to the best scene of the movie - Paul's on-camera seduction of Kate. This scene is done with such intensity and a sinister sense of innocence being lost that you can't help but hope Paul turns his life around to develop his relationship with Kate rather than ruthlessly use her as his ticket to success.

With just this one film, writer/director Doug Atchison has proven himself more talented than so many other independent directors who are mass-worshiped after only doing one picture. His strength is definitely in his writing, as he presents us with a fully-dimensional main character that we simultaneously feel pity for and disgust towards. I believe Atchison does justice to portraying today's porn industry in all its cold reality, where people are exploited and in turn exploit others, and those who can't handle it (i.e. - the heroin-addicted fallen starlet) are literally left on the curb. Also, for a movie about pornography, there is little nudity - a sign of a skilled filmmaker. Atchison was probably hindered by a limited budget in showing off very much directing-wise here. However, the almost Cassavetes-like documentary style works for this particular movie. He shows shades of influence from Scorsese as well.

The only major flaw I had with this movie was the somewhat slapstick ending, although it still serves to transmit the message of individuals getting forced into a dead-end situation - in this case, the porn industry. The final shot is truly haunting though, and quickly makes you overlook the slightly contrived ending. Besides, I can name over a dozen other great and heralded independent films with utterly ridiculous attempts at a brilliant and all-satisfying finale. "The Pornographer" is just about as good as they come, and I hope to see more projects by Atchison in the future. 9/10.

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