Director Charles Lakante recently undertook the most ambitious project to be seen on The Life Erotic – an intriguing ten-part series, ‘My Truth,’ that explores the dark erotic journey of sexually curious Assoli. Prior to this, Lakante was best known for some cleverly interwoven stories starring Alexis Brill and Camille A that hinted at his ability to create an ongoing narrative. Although a relative newcomer, the signs are good that Lakante is set to become a notable TLE artist, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to quiz him about his work…
Charles, where are you from?
CL: I am French. I grew up in a multicultural family even though I was almost the only multicultural part of it. I studied another field for my degree, traveled, lived and worked in different countries. I am now living not far from Hungary and Czech Republic, where I make my projects.
What is your background in photography and film?
CL: This work happened like a few other things that have come into my life: randomly. I edited landscapes for a contact, to a point where I came to produce my own footage (I still practice this activity, as I find it a great resource!). After some discussions with the same contact, and some personal reflection, erotica appeared to be something I could try out. There have been different steps, but my work with Alexis Brill and Camille A marks my true beginning as director – I am glad it happened on TLE.
Are you influenced by mainstream art, film and photography?
CL: I have a long answer to that question but I will choose the brief one. I am influenced and also not. To me, everything has been done in every artistic field, it is like jumping into a circle. With the way I think, I would do nothing by following influences. A piece of art from Edvard Munch, books from Henry Miller, Murakami, Celine, Barclay, Acker, Musso, Omi, Oates... even Coelho or Goleman, whatever the genre, I consider all of them art... I know I am going off the main point of your question, which is more directed; part of an answer would be to tell you that a few weeks ago I got back into Danish drama, and that is not an influence but clearly strengthens my vision for where to direct my next storylines and how to construct them (for fans of the genre who haven’t heard this yet, September 2015 is the comeback of ‘Saga’ and I heard that maybe in 10 years or so ‘Birgit’ could return). I work, function in life by associations, connections, it can be useful or restricting. I can have an idea and connect it with something I already thought of, something I saw, something that happened in my life... I am more bound by my own desires than any surrounding influences.
You have been shooting photosets and movies for TLE for almost a year – how do you think your style has evolved since then?
CL: I do not think that my style has evolved because I believe that I have not shown any specific style yet. It is easy for me to say why. I think that if you place one of my movies between a couple of others, unless you think about it you won't be able to define which one is mine. An example for everyone to follow my thought… I can recognize a Paul Black movie in a second, and I believe that it would be the same with Bo Llanberris. In this industry they are the only ones I could guess 10 out of 10, yet I saw only few movies from them. My style is not there yet; for various reasons I need to raise my standards to the level where I believe my “style” should stand. Once there, if it fulfils my initial wish I will continue and push it as much as I can, as much as I am given the chance to do. I do know when I should reach this point, and it is not so far from now. As for noticeable evolutions, my understanding of certain aspects of on set production for erotica is growing; of course communication with the MetArt Network is very pleasant, it is helping me to move forward.
Please tell us about your TLE series ‘My Truth.’
CL: ‘My Truth’ is led by a connection of ideas: to be, have, lose, get lost, stand up even if you are broken for good. In life we all are broken in a way, it doesn't mean we can’t put on a big smile, and do our best with everything we encounter. That is something I like to act on: so many things to do, so many things to experience, so many things to take (not get!). There is no message in my movies unless you know me personally, there is nothing that I feel you should or could understand. I think that movies are made to be yours, viewers make what they want, what they can or what they wish from it. The serial format is interesting, but in terms of work it changes nothing, because I do the same as I do for unique stories. I will not do it again soon though. I am far from satisfied with the series. I wanted to do something different; however the great thing about it was collaborating with Assoli, who held the storyline together the way it was needed to compensate for the missing parts of the script.
Do you prefer studio or location shoots?
CL: I have an idea of how studio work should be, and it requires design, a lot of it. If I can put up a set that makes sense within my concept of a movie I would like to give it a try. I see a boat lost in mist, a giant cage in the middle of a big studio... For now it is impossible, I am focusing on getting better results in locations.
Is there a photoset or video you are particularly proud of?
CL: I have a very strong opinion about the picture work I have made with my teams (a proud feeling is not part of it) and regarding videos, no I am not proud of any. I can tell you that when ‘Forgiveness’ was edited, playing it on my computer I understood that I can go where I want to go, but there is lot of work and effort to put in before I get there. I am up to it!
Do you prefer shooting movies or photographs?
CL: I think they require different approaches and so I would not be able at the moment to tell you if I prefer one to the other. I have identified many aspects to correct, and in addition to that, bit by bit, I am adding the planned enhancements to my scripts. I now consider myself to have one main weakness – I do not have my Ilona Black or Ariel Piper Fawn yet. I refer to an assistant on set who understands me, and can take care of the models while I focus on set up or technical aspects with my team. It is difficult for me to trust people (when it is work related) and I am not going to ask around for this type of position; I trust in the journey, and at some point this will be solved.
TLE is moving more towards ‘soft kink’ – is this a subject that inspires you?
CL: I do not consider this a subject, I think it is more like a requirement, like asking to put a red dress on every model. I had three thoughts before saying to the Network that I am fine with it: first, this is also coming with the requirement for darkness being dropped – this change of direction is what life brings you, life is change. My second thought was, this might be restrictive in term of creativity or situations. But my third thought was, requirements are just things that guide certain actions in my storyline. Even if you cannot see it as I see it, my only ‘muse’ so far is the story I want to develop, and this is not bound by any requirements, it only leads to certain adjustments.
Is there a model that inspires you the most?
CL: I have no particular model that inspires me, I guess it wouldn’t be a bad thing… I have ideas about a few of them, but no real things to base my reflection on or let my subconscious do the job. I believe that good models understand what they do, and some have the luck or interest to be a bit more than that. You can easily tell the difference. Malena Morgan, Elle Alexandra and Emily J are good examples of that, but they are not the only ones.
Do you plan your shoots in great detail, or see how it evolves on the day?
CL: I prepare a lot. Maybe even too much – magazines, books, movies, music, series, blogs, life experience... I absorb much of it: a word, an idea, an expression here or there, most of the time it’s only for building the spirit of the shoot and letting my mind define things better as I divert myself. I first define my storyline and adapt my ‘research’ toward it. It varies, but my storylines take up a minimum of nine to 15 A4 pages; I barely use 20 percent of all the information I have noted in my preparations when shooting actually occurs. That is a shame, it’s due to the lack of time I have, I am running everywhere and it reflects on my footage quality – I will be glad when this is resolved. I want to use 80-90 percent of it; the rest is adaptation or evolution due to the day’s events.
What are your ambitions for your work with TLE?
CL: I have no ambitions; I have a plan and I consider it an opportunity if I can get to the end of it. Sooner or later stories end, sometimes earlier, sometimes later than we thought, but what matters is the present and not to waste time. When I prepare or think about shooting for TLE I give it my full attention – until the point when I will go live on an island, stay on the beach all day and enjoy it, and work won't be part of my life any more! I know from the start that this story will have a conclusion, we will see about the end when it is here.
What do you hope the viewers get from your movies and photos?
CL: I am going to repeat myself here – they should take what they want, can or wish from it. It belongs to them, in my approach once a movie is made I lose the ‘paternity’ and interest in it, I generally have very little interest in the past. It is like wondering about someone who does not feel the same, you waste your time, your energy, and you do not respect yourself because you do not prepare for the future in the way it deserves. Yet there is something very important to me related to the past, it is to transform the memory of bad things toward a cathartic reflection. I see it in two ways, either to learn from failures, redo things with the correct approach, or let them go because it is not in your DNA to deal with it; you are still doing something in both cases.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
CL: I should not but I think I will anyway! I will give a big thank you to the person who helped me decide to step up and produce my first footage. Her support was, “her support.” Plans change, but facts stand: Thank you! Big thank you to TLE for helping me, I will keep doing my best.