7 things I learnt about porn after making a film I'd let my kids watch

Helen Chandler-Wilde
Anita has four sons aged 7-25 - (Channel 4 images must not be altered or manipulated in any way) CHANNEL 4 PICTURE PUBLICITY 124 HOR

Shocked by the X-rated material available online, four mothers set out to direct their own positive film in Mums Make Porn, a four-part series that starts tonight on Channel 4. Here Anita, 43, explains what she learnt from the experience.

I am very sex positive, and don’t try to hide the fact that I enjoy watching porn with my husband. But that doesn’t mean all of it is good - worryingly hardcore stuff is available to any child with a smart phone. My husband and I are tech savvy, and make sure there are parental controls on all the devices my children use. But you can never fully protect them: they can always watch it at a friend’s house.

That is why I set out with three other mothers to make a porn film that we wouldn’t mind our children watching. I have four sons, aged 25 to 7, so this is an issue I've been thinking about for a while.

We visited several porn sets (for research purposes, of course) before making our own film. Being in a room full of people watching a couple have sex is not always sexy. It can be smelly, awkward and cramped. Here are the main things I learned.

1. It’s all faked

When you see it made live, you realise how staged porn is. When you watch a porn film you’re seeing so many different shots all edited together which could have been taken throughout the course of the day. You’re never seeing an authentic portrayal of how a couple has sex.

On set there’s so much stopping and starting to make sure you get all the angles filmed. Sometimes we had to stop rolling to readjust someone’s leg so we could see what is going on, or to ask them to make a particular face.

But once a couple has got into the groove and is enjoying their time together, directors and crew typically take a step back and let them get on with it.

2. Things get messy

The first porn set we went to was for a mainstream film. It was very cramped, with loads of cameramen and us all squished in. That made the room very hot…which meant that the smells coming off the naked bodies were quite strong. It was quite icky.

To keep everything hygienic, porn sets have what’s called a “sex box”. It has everything you need to keep the actors fresh.

There are lubricants of all kinds because people can be allergic to some of them and condoms in different sizes with hypoallergenic options. It’s also stocked with baby wipes, shower gel and soap so people can tidy up a bit after the scene is filmed.

The mums on the show. Left to right: Emma, Anita, Sarah and Sarah-Louise Credit:  Dave King

3. There's lots of waiting around

A lot of the time we were on porn sets was waiting around while the star tried to get an erection. This can take some time - on one day we waited for 45 minutes.

Men, understandably, can get flustered about their performance with a whole camera crew watching. On one set we went to, the actor had to calm down and get into “sex mode” before he could come out and work.

We then watched him touching himself to maintain his erection. It was very awkward.

He had a lot of bravado before he lost his erection, but not so much afterwards. Eventually we left the set to let him focus.

4. Women are often in control

Although women are often portrayed as uber submissive in porn films, the stars in real life have more control than you may think. When we made our film we chatted with actresses and actors to make sure they were happy and comfortable to do what we wanted.

We saw women on sets being the total opposite of the characters they play. They were directing films, calling the shots and bossing around the male actors they worked with.

The most women-friendly porn we saw made was that of Erika Lust. She’s this incredible ethical and feminist pornographer who makes high-quality films that women want to watch, too. She practises what she preaches, and the company she runs has women in high positions.

But we still have to be mindful that the porn that’s made caters for men. That’s not right - we have to be thinking of women’s desires too.

The women were motivated to make better porn after realising that they can never fully protect their children from seeing it Credit: Dave King

5. There's a diversity problem

Something I hadn’t appreciated before is the lack of diversity in porn. Black men are typecast into an aggressive sex deviant role. They only perform in hard hitting and shocking types. Being a mother of four black boys I don’t want them to think this is how they should behave sexually.

Oh, and let’s change the myth about the fact that every black man has this huge member, that’s just not true.

Another odd thing is that the mainstream porn industry never put two black performers together. I found that really bizarre.

Porn also only shows one type of body, slim and toned with no hair at all. A lot of young people are looking to porn as a way to understand what they have to aspire to, so we need to change that. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. You need to know that however you look there will always be someone who thinks you're sexy how you are.

6. Porn has professional issues, too

Like a cameraman not filming a key moment, or performers getting frustrated when a shot doesn't go to plan. Plus, there's a lot of expensive equipment about in often messy scenarios, which requires careful planning.

There's all the admin and hassle of a normal job, too - when we made our film I even had to fill in a risk assessment for health and safety!

You only have a limited time to get everything done because once the male actor has finished work for the day everyone else has to as well. So getting all the frames you need under time pressure is key.

7. Mums are better qualified than you think

You just don’t realise how much goes on behind the scenes in porn, and mums might actually be the best people to make it, because we're so used to making happen. The four of us ran round the whole day making cups of tea for the cast and crew, and making sure the labels weren’t showing on the actress’s outfit. Tiny things like that make a big difference.