Over the past few years, amateur porn and webcam sites have been a rapidly growing segment of the adult entertainment and porn markets. I recently had the chance to interview Tim Lake, president and owner of Homegrown Video, an all-amateur porn website that has been producing amateur adult videos since 1982.
C.J. Asher – Tell me about yourself… how did you get into the adult entertainment industry?
Tim Lake – I used to follow the Grateful Dead and saw these videos from a company called Homegrown Video that offered to purchase home sex videos. Had a revelation during an acid trip at a show and saw it as my destiny… but it also seemed like a good way to see more Dead shows.
C.J. Asher – Tell me about the history of Homegrown Video.
Tim Lake – Homegrown Video started in 1982 and was created by a swinger that owned a regular “mom and pop” video store with a back room for adult. He started putting his swinger party videos on the shelves and couldn’t make enough to keep people happy, so he started asking for others to sell theirs to him and created literally the first amateur porn distribution company, and this is when amateur porn really meant “amateur.”
C.J. Asher – How does the amateur porn genre differ from professional porn productions?
Tim Lake – Amateur porn, the real stuff, not the quasi-psuedo-neo type amateur, but true home videos, still offer that peek into your neighbor’s sex life that is so visceral and still sexy.
C.J. Asher – Do you produce any of your own content or just accept submissions?
Tim Lake – Right now we only accept submissions, but we may do series in the near future that are more like documentary features.
C.J. Asher – How has piracy affected the amateur porn industry? Has it been worse or better for your genre as opposed to the larger, professionally produced porn industry?
Tim Lake – I think amateur has fared better than professional mostly because less pro stuff is produced than amateur so it is more affected by piracy directly. Amateur is affected by the inverse of that problem. There are so many amateur videos produced and so much out there that it is hard to maintain a brand identity and be recognized.
C.J. Asher – What verifications for age and consent do you require from producers of your content?
Tim Lake – We require everything that 2257 requires in the US, including ID, model release, etc.
C.J. Asher – What is the most popular sub-genre of amateur porn, such as interracial, group, threesome, masturbation, etc.?
Tim Lake – Right now, it’s the niches that pretty much launched Homegrown: hot wife, cuckold, anal, and swinger are all still our staples in terms of popularity.
C.J. Asher – Without giving away any trade secrets, how do you determine the value of a video and set your rates?
Tim Lake – We look at the emotional content and to see if everyone is having fun. That is more important to us than anything else. We then look to see if all the technical aspects are good enough not to distract from capturing the fun. Rates, though, have fluctuated over the years mostly due to supply and demand. Right now there is a ton of content available, but not too many places to monetize effectively any more so rates for scenes are at an all-time low.
C.J. Asher – What are the criterion you have for selecting a movie?
Tim Lake – We look for the “X” factor of fun and real emotional intensity. That is what is usually lacking from the “pro-am” and “reality” stuff where models are being hired to work with hired models. Then we look at how many ways we will be able to use the scene for our different publishing channels. If we know we can use it on cable, DVD, and web then it is worth more to us. Then we decide if the niche works for us. Solo girl masturbation used to be extremely popular, but then it wasn’t at all. We have to be very proactive to respond to those trends. We need all the paperwork to be in order or it can be the best scene in the world and we will not take it.
C.J. Asher – What types of submissions are in-demand at the moment?
Tim Lake – We always need more anal, swinger, cuckold, and hot wife stuff.
C.J. Asher – What is involved in reviewing video submissions?
Tim Lake – The video is uploaded along with appropriate documentation. We let the producer know that we have received the content and then the content is reviewed. If it meets the guidelines and is worthy, then we make an offer. If the offer is accepted, then we move forward with the purchase.
C.J. Asher – How do the laws and regulations of the adult film industry vary between mainstream professional porn productions and amateur productions?
Tim Lake – Professional porn, with large crews, power needs, etc. require permits, but amateur porn is all about the personal freedom: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in one’s own home.
C.J. Asher – What porn conventions, such as Adult Entertainment Expo and EXXXOTICA, do you exhibit at?
C.J. Asher – How do content rights work with submissions, do you retain ownership or do your producers/acting talent?
Tim Lake – In essence, we are licensing an exclusive right to distribute the content; although, we are amenable to amateurs retaining some rights, such as the ability to publish on their own personal websites, for example.
C.J. Asher – Do you produce any outtake/blooper videos?
Tim Lake – We love blooper reels and we are always setting aside good blooper content so that, when we have enough, we can make a release out of them. Bloopers are always great for viral marketing, too.
C.J. Asher – What types of videos will you absolutely not accept?
Tim Lake – Anything that is illegal in the United States we are going to steer very clear of and anything that we just don’t feel good about. I used to work for Max Hardcore, and I respect his work and appreciate that some people love his stuff for the fantasy it fulfills, but that is just not our cup of tea-bagging.
C.J. Asher – What’s the worst submission you’ve ever received?
Tim Lake – The craziest and worst for me, personally, is still the one that I saw when I first bought Homegrown out of the bankruptcy. It seemed cool at first, a mom explains safe sex to her daughters and I was thinking “wow, this is awesome,” then she says “now, go show Dad” and I think to myself “I’m not sure if that is ok…,” then I was freaked out and I went to look at the IDs and sure enough they really were all family, all over 21, but all family. I wasn’t sure if it was legal or illegal, but we rejected that one. Another time we got a couple that kept smoking crack cocaine, then fighting, then fucking, then smoking more crack… it was crazy, terrible, and you couldn’t take your eyes off it. I wanted to publish it, but my brother thought it would be the worst idea ever.
C.J. Asher – Tell me about your community portal… who can join, how much does it cost and what types of features does it contain?
Tim Lake – We are in the midst of creating a new community portal that will be free to join, zmut.com. We will keep you posted because it is going to be pretty unique.
C.J. Asher – What awards have you received?
Tim Lake – We have a bunch of AVN awards, some Hot D’ors, XRCO, and a few others. Homegrown has been around forever so we had to win sometime, right…?
C.J. Asher – What advice do you have for anyone looking to become an actor or actress in amateur porn?
Tim Lake – I would say do it for fun and a little extra spending cash. Trying to make it a full time gig in this day and age is tough and not worth quitting your day job for. You can, maybe, build towards that goal, but it takes a lot of work and most people don’t realize that it actually does require work when they want to make it a full time gig. When they lose sight of the fun, then they lose Homegrown Video as a place to make a little cash, too!