MONTREAL, QC: Readers of the DNN Tribune will probably recognize the name Jason Deeh Pitre. Deeh Pitre, of course, is the singer and musician who contributed the haunting soundtrack to the DNN-produced cult film Last Thirteen, which was edited and produced by Douche and directed by Seederman. The brooding music and dark, moody cinematography of the film have led some persons to speculate that Deeh Pitre and Douche might even be the same person, although credit for the film’s photography really belongs to its star, Christopher Roy Dick. Deeh Pitre is not Douche, however, but his own story as a musician, artist, and filmmaker is fascinating in its own right.
Montreal, the capital of Quebec and the heart of French-speaking Canada, has quietly become the third largest producer of adult films in the world, behind Los Angeles and Amsterdam. This may come as something of a surprise to Americans, who frequently see Canada as a bland, cold place. However, such impressions are usually based upon English-speaking Canada; Quebec is a different culture and different scene. Among other things, Montreal has become a hotbed for all of the arts. For nearly two decades it has been a major source of rock and post-rock music. It has a vibrant literary history. It is on the map as a city that produces its share of challenging contemporary art. And it has grown into a major porn producer. Why Montreal, and not Toronto or Vancouver? Part of it is nationalistic pride.
“Montreal is very hedonistic”, Jason explained. “And people here are gorgeous. Plus, Quebec is obsessed about being a country, so a lot of French culture and French art are not for the world, but rather for the Quebec population only. That includes porn.”
The Montreal adult film industry is dominated by the French-speaking Quebecois, who represent about a quarter of Canada’s overall population. During the previous decade, it was an ascending industry which saw rapid growth, but as with all the arts in the internet age, the industry has taken a severe hit in recent years as consumers turn to free outlets for pornographic material.
Says Jason, “Most porn here was run by French people. It sold well in Quebec because it was exotic and also filmed in their backyard. Then, the Americans started to trade their starlets for ours. The industry is always looking for new talent. Now, things have changed: all these ‘free porn’ sites are run from here. They are huge companies. But it’s mostly office work. I applied for Pornhub, but they thought I was over-qualified for the monkey work.”
Jason, who considers himself a musician first and a filmmaker second, says he worked full time in the industry for three years, and dabbled in it for another year. Like a lot of people, Jason got into the business by accident, and stayed with it as a means to make money as a struggling musician while gaining some hands-on experience that would eventually help him make his own indie films.
“I got into it through a friend who was working for an adult company. He told me they needed some ‘porn music’ to slap on their scenes. I brought some CDs with my music to the porn director’s office for him to check out. He seemed less interested in the music and more into offering me a video editing job. I was a broke and upcoming musician, so I took the offer pretty quickly.”
Any notions of glamour he may have had about the job were quickly dashed by the routine nature of the work, as he spent most of his day editing video and dealing with the egos of directors, all for very modest pay. He also had to maintain peace on the home front after taking such a provocative job.
“My girlfriend at the time was a little annoyed by the job, but she quickly got used to it. For the first three months I just edited porn scenes 8-9 hours a day. It was very stressful because the director was very aggressive and insulting at times. We had tons of arguments (he even started to have high blood pressure because of me) but I learned a lot from him. Plus, I really like my co-worker, Mike. He was a sweet guy. I got paid maybe $8.00 an hour, which was peanuts for the work I was doing.”
This kind of “monkey work” went on for some time before he started working on the sets of adult films. This is where he had to navigate the egos involved, from bullying directors to actors and actresses with attitudes.
“The first time I was on a porn set, I was just the assistant. I would be the director’s bitch, basically. He liked directing because he could control people. So the actors and actresses were rarely turned on while we were shooting because he would insult them and push them around. Also, at the time, porn actresses were in it mostly for the money. So they were hard to work with at times.”
Jason’s big break in the industry came when one of the directors walked out in an argument over pay. Jason explained, “After a year or so, the director left the company because he felt he wasn’t getting paid enough (which was laughably untrue). For a few months, the manager of the company hired various known porn directors because he didn’t trust a young guy like me (and my co-worker Mike) to film.” Persistence eventually paid off however, as the company relented and decided to let Deeh Pitre shoot his own films. Surprisingly, he is more proud of his title for his first film than the film itself, and he offered an interesting glimpse into how the mind works when he described the story behind it.
“My first film was called Montreal’s Hotel Lust. I picked that title because my boss owned a swinger’s club called Hotel Lust that was in Montreal. I thought it would of been a cool to mix realism and fiction into one film. So we shot 3 scenes in the club and sold it like it was real. To make a long story short, the film was a huge hit on pay-per-view in Quebec and in Canada. First, because it had ‘Montreal’ in the title. Second, because it had a real swinger’s club name in the title. Thirdly, because it was a sex film that was shot in a moody way, so the trailer looked nice. From then on, I was churning out movies left and right. It was a great two years. The easiest and best job I ever had.”
While Jason had seen his fair share of power-mad directors in his first year in the business, the affable musician kept his ego in check and worked instead on making sure his actors felt comfortable to do good work with the cameras rolling. He sought sincerity and fun in their performances, and got it. He had to wear many hats for each production as well, often shooting video, editing it, using film software for effects, and adding music. However, his favorite part of the whole process was marketing the resulting product.
“I loved doing that!”, he said. “For example, if the film had just boring scenes, I would try to find a hook: something that could make the movie special. So instead of a calling a film ‘Bang My Pussy‘, I would call it ‘Crazy French Girls Have More Fun‘. The ‘crazy‘ evokes that they lose control, while the ‘French‘ makes it exotic. The ‘More Fun‘ is just subliminal. It’s simple and obvious, but all those words together sell. So that was my favorite part, strangely. I loved watching the pay-per-view numbers come in every month and seeing what sold more. I loved making money for the company. The company loved me too and gave me a huge raise. So in just a span of a year, I got promoted in a huge way. I was finally making serious money.”
During the course of this work, Jason got to know the performers pretty well, and had a clear sense of where they were coming from. As he was working on the production side of things, he was not responsible for seeking and hiring talent, and often didn’t meet them until they showed up for a shoot. What kind of people applied for the job of performing in adult films? Jason said, “At the time, I would say half of the people were not folks I would like to hang out with, but the other half are just sweet, normal people who wanna fuck”.
One would think that with such access to actresses who “wanna fuck”, Jason must have been pretty busy in his off hours, but he says such temptations never really motivated him to take advantage. “I had a girlfriend at the time, so I never cheated on her with an actress. I had a few occasions that it came close, but I (along with Mike) were too prudish and shy. I’m more of a kinda guy who shows up on set and have a laugh. I liked making people comfortable in the awkward situation we were in. Sometimes, I’d fuck with people too much and they would think I was a jerk. I have dry humor, and French people sometimes don’t get that kind of joking around. My boss would even be taken aback because I always joked around and he thought I didn’t take any of it seriously. It didn’t help that I looked like a weird punk in a suit sporting a huge mohawk. The truth is that I’m a hard worker, but I don’t like to show people my sweat. Over the years, I’ve made some nice acquaintances. It’s fun to know porn stars personally.”
Deeh Pitre made a lot of videos in the late 00’s, but despite the fun and the money, he was not always satisfied with the actual product. Part of the issue was that he had to compromise his own vision for the projects, having to take often half-baked ideas from the boss and working them into something more. “I was never a fan of our films”, he admitted. “I am proud about certain shots, and the cinematography was usually superior for the time. That’s because I watched a lot of movies, unlike most pornographers. I had 50% creative control. Basically, my boss would say ‘I want this to be the story’ and then I’d bite my lip and go ‘ok’. Then, I’d try to find some creative ways to do his boring idea. Near the end, I’d pitch ideas. He listened to me most of the time. I think he saw me as this weirdo with a lot of talent.”
After about three years in the industry, Jason began to lose interest. “Most pornographers are just doing it for the sex, but sex bores me a little. What turns me on is what’s inside a motherfucker. Not private parts banging together.” Even the artistic flourishes he added to his films weren’t really to his personal taste. “The job is not creative enough for me. You can argue that I could put artistic flourishes in my porn films, but I hate artistic porn. I even hate music in porn. So, I’m the ‘anti-porn dude’ in terms of what I am. What I liked about working in the porn industry were some of the people and just the high of having a hit on our hands. I felt good about people buying my films and jerking off to them. I see it as a service (laughs).”
Truth be told, he’s not even especially a big fan of the Montreal adult film world in general, or even many of its stars. “I find Quebecer porn to be very average. It’s too mechanical. I prefer California/Nevada porn. They’re just better at it. But Quebec does produce great porn stars here and there. [Montreal-based adult actress] Vandal Vyxen is a very original looking girl. She’s a sweetheart too. There’s a handful that are cool. Some are my ex-girlfriends -which makes it sound like I’m a stud- but frankly, 1 out of 10 girls here seem to work in the sex industry. So, being that I’m a rocker dude, I tend to get a certain kind of woman. Lawyers don’t want artists, even though I love law and my dad was a lawyer (laughs)”
All things must pass, and such was the case of Jason’s successful career in adult films. It all ended very abruptly, as often is the case in the adult industry. While the events that unfolded came as a bit of a shock to him, he has a sense of humor about it. “One day, I walked into work and my office was empty. Everything was gone! Confused, I waited for my boss or a co-worker to show up, but they never did. I got sick of waiting, so I returned home, still confused. I turned on the TV and I suddenly saw my boss in handcuffs on the news. It turned out he was in a very notorious biker gang, and they were using the porn company as a front to launder their illegal money. I always wondered why the company still existed after eight years of not making a penny. Actually, the only time the company started making money was the last two years I was directing films for them. It was hilarious. After my boss got arrested, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police seized all the company’s accounts, so we did not get paid for a while. It was scary to have the RCMP on our backs. I remember one time, a car was following me. I just felt paranoid. It was a hard time. But also totally ridiculous, which suits me fine.”
Deeh Pitre did not turn to film making as a career after all, although he did manage to make two independent films with his partner Mike, which garnered some modest acclaim. However, despite the success of his indie films, he finds the industry to be frustrating to work in. “It’s easy to work on legit films, but they either don’t pay, or they’re not fulfilling. I’ve done two feature films, and they are my pride and joy. I couldn’t care less about all the other films I worked on. Including my porn films. Not because they suck, but because a lot of them compromise vision, where as I usually don’t when it comes to my films.”
In some ways, Deeh Pitre has now come full circle. After a career in adult film production and his own indie films, he has returned to his first love: writing and performing music, both solo and with his band The Scroll. However, his time away from music has underscored how much that industry has changed as well. He also learned how quickly a life can change as well.
“I was slightly more into music in the early to mid 2000’s when my band was happening. Things were easier back then. Music was special. Now, there’s so much shit out there and none of us make any money. So it’s sad. The only good things are are all the platforms we can promote our music on these days. I was on a label before and even though I prefer it, I think all that stuff is slowly going away. When I started working in porn, I put my music on the back burner for a couple of years. I was more focused on making money and doing my first indie film, Affinity Point. Then I got back into music full throttle, but the landscape had changed in just those few years. Selling music was done. CDs were done.”