#GameOfSlaves for producers and models

This page is for producers and models interested in getting involved with #GameOfSlaves. If you aren’t a producer, photographer or model this page may be a bit dull, you might find the #GameOfSlaves Trailer page of more interest… and that’s the page you should check out first for an overview and flavour as a producer, too.

What is #GameOfSlaves?

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In the fictional world, it is an underground, decentralised social media tag for sharing subversive, clandestine BDSM erotica which has been banned on the sanitised interwebs of 2047. Popular performers gain fame and wealth from rich fans in the game who commission customs, host private parties to be filmed or promote their favourite dommes and subs. A good enough player in the game can become a millionaire.

In the real world, it is a series of loosely connected stories about the fictional game world. Some stories follow characters’ development from starting sub to top player or from middle-ranking domme to top-ranked sub. Other stories are just self-contained posts from the fictional characters posted on the game to try to get likes and followers.

As I said, the #GameOfSlaves Trailer should convey the general look and feel of the world.

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How Do I Get Involved?

Shoot, post, tag #GameOfSlaves

The simplest way? Decide on a character you are going to play in the fictional #GameOfSlaves world. Shoot something- still photos, selfies on your phone, selfie video, anything. Post it to your usual sales or distribution channels: your own web site, Clips4Sale, ManyVids, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, anywhere. Tag it with #GameOfSlaves. Job done.

Amateurs VERY Welcome!

You DO NOT have to be a pro to join in! Take a selfie on your phone, tweet it, tag it – congratulations, you just created a character and now you are on #GameOfSlaves!

What about photographers?

If you’re an amateur photographer, next time you are shooting with your partner or a model, take a few photos set in the game world with a collared sub or a styled-up domme. Post it, tag it – you’ve just helped us build the #GameOfSlaves world.

We’d be honoured to host guest galleries of your work on RestrainedElegance.com as well, email me and we can sort one out.

Not a hot chick?

See diversity section below. EVERYONE is welcome to join in. Although RestrainedElegance will be primarily featuring female models, it is an open world. Come and join in, whoever you are and whatever your orientation.

You can find a style guide down below if you want more inspiration or want to follow the format we’re using more closely, but remember than the characters in the game are shooting stuff themselves and posting it in a decentralised way. So by design, anything you post and tag should fit right in!

We’ve decided to do most of our promotion via Twitter, via the hashtag #GameOfSlaves. If you post with that hashtag and tag me ( @RElegance) I will see it and retweet it. If we all do that, we can hopefully build some momentum to share links and publicity and build it into a real-world event.

To facilitate that we’ve decided to use models’ existing names and consequently their Twitter handles as the names of the characters they are playing the game. That keeps things simple and maximises the opportunity to cross-promote.

A link back to RestrainedElegance.com would be much appreciated, but is not necessary.

If you’d like me to promote your clips/photos/etc. then email me and send me a trailer, a selection of pics for a guest gallery, or the first video you shoot in a series and let me know where to link back to so people can buy the full clips or the rest of the series.

I don’t use Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. much so if anyone wants to volunteer as the contact person to help us all cross-promote and cross-post on those platforms please get in touch!

If you would like to shoot something but would like more input to get you started, or you’d like help underwriting the cost of production, I can help.

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Getting Involved: Collaboration

Content Share

If you’re already a producer or model, I’d be happy to collaborate! You shoot a clip or photos with some input from me, I feature the clip on RestrainedElegance.com, you can sell via your own websites and places like Clips4Sale.

I’ll pay you something towards the production costs in exchange for being able to feature the content on my membership site. You retain the rights and can sell everywhere else.

We both build on the #GameOfSlaves publicity and hopefully get to carry on and shoot more and make a living. Since Clips4Sale and others are fussy about clips not being uploaded twice, I’m happy to forego the clip sales in order to feature the clips on my members’ area. If you have a members’ area I’m happy to have you put the clip there too of course.

If you have an idea you’d like to shoot, please email me to discuss.

Custom Shooting For #GameOfSlaves

I am willing to buy content outright for use of RestrainedElegance.com if it fits in very well with the world, it’s sexy, and the production values are high enough. If you have an idea you’d like to shoot, please email me to discuss.

This is not my favourite option- frankly, it is a bit high risk for me. If I want content shot to our production standards, why not shoot it myself? But I’m always up for a compelling proposition: I know that there’s stuff I am not very good at directing, models I’ve not had the opportunity to shoot, places I don’t get to go… Make it big and exciting and thrilling and fast-paced like an action movie with beautiful barefoot girls in hot BDSM action and I’ll certainly consider commissioning you to shoot it!

Regular RE Model Shoots

Of course we will be shooting plenty for #GameOfSlaves ourselves in 2017. If you’d like to model for us, please drop me a line to email me but be aware that our shoot schedule is pretty full for the first half of the year already. It would be hugely helpful if you could shoot a selfie or two and post in the meantime ๐Ÿ™‚

I know that’s a bit cheeky but the more we build the buzz around #GameOfSlaves the better. We get contacted by more models than we can possibly shoot… but I’m hardly about to pass up a shoot with someone who’s already kindly been shooting stuff to help with #GameOfSlaves! So in the meantime please consider shooting something yourself or with other producers and help build the momentum and we’ll shoot you as soon as we can.

Only Female Subs? What About Diversity?

Restrained Elegance features female submissive barefoot elegant bondage and BDSM. That’s what Ariel and I are into, so it is the only thing we feel qualified to do a good job of shooting.

The sub-set of the #GameOfSlaves world featured on our site will be likewise focussed on women getting tied up. We’ve decided to make male doms a rare occurrence, more like game enforcers than participants. That’s because Hywel HATES appearing on camera!

BUT THIS IS AN OPEN WORLD

#GameOfSlaves is an open world- nothing is stopping you shooting a more diverse set of characters! Please do! Male subs? Male doms? Trans? Genderqueer spanking? Sissy transformation? Pet play in 2047 on a post-apocalyptic farm? Go for it. Just shoot something in character for the world, tag it and post it! HAVE ALL THE FUN IN THE WORLD WITH IT!

We’d LOVE IT if you could shoot the stuff we aren’t good at!

Style Guide and Background Information

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Setting

The year is 2047. Global warming has happened; lower-lying parts of the world flooded. The world is ruled by three economic superpowers: India, China and Facebook. The USA is a dust-bowl post-civil-war wild west. Russia has collapsed under the weight of corruption. Europe has fallen apart, the bits which function best are greater Germany. The UK suffered massive economic decline after the leaving the EU and now survives by exporting the thing it has been best at for a hundred years- entertainment.

Facebook rules half the globe in fact if not in name, and rules the information infrastructure with an iron hand of prudish “safe for the children”, and “all your secrets are belong to us”. But it is still built on the internet, and there are places and spaces and ways. So while posting a nipple online in 2047 might result in revocation of Facebook privileges and instant loss of job, home and reputation, there are still cracks.

Twitter survives, and out of Twitter and the underground BDSM scene, some entertainment entrepreneurs in the UK started the latest forbidden sensation: #GameOfSlaves. Contestants vie to live out their BDSM fantasies on screen for an audience of kinksters deprived of any other outlet. The game is decentralised, no mastermind to arrest, and no-one to stop you entering yourself just by posting a video or a picture and hashtagging it #GameOfSlaves.

Contestants choose whether to enter as a dominant or a submissive. In the RestrainedElegance version, effectively all contestants will be female- but see “diversity” above. Just because we don’t feel qualified to shoot a male-sub version doesn’t mean you can’t! We’d love you to.

Dommes outnumber subs approximately two to one. So subs are very valuable, and dommes compete with each other to assemble a stable of desirable, popular, highly-ranked subs. This brings dommes into conflict with each other constantly, which means they end up battling it out and getting tied up by rivals at least as often as the subs do. It’s important to maintain that feeling of subs being valuable and dommes being at each other’s throats for tension and drama in the setting. You don’t have to actually show them on screen- just saying at the start of a single-girl struggling clip that she’s been tied up by her rival “Mistress Dariah” is enough to invoke the world-build.

Contestants start out with selfies shot on phones and webcams. If they are popular enough, GameOfSlaves will send a camera crew to film them. The top ranked contestants live a life of luxury in secret kinky manor houses provided by shadowy wealthy fans of the game where they play out their kinky fantasies in front of the cameras.

Thereโ€™s a big crossover between the mistresses and slaves because a large fraction of the viewing population likes nothing better than to see a top-ranked mistress brought low and turned into the abject slave of an up-and-coming dominatrix bitch. Especially if she is reduced in social rank in the household to below that of former slaves and mistresses over whom she used to preside. A slave might collaborate with a popular mistress to develop web shows that will get them both followers, or fight to free herself and usurp the previous dommeโ€™s position. Everyone is out to improve their own ratings, forming temporary alliances and betraying them when they get a bit stale.

There is a shadowy distributed, decentralised open-source organisation in charge of the game and who enforce the small number of rules. This is something we’re going to expand upon in stories on RestrainedElegance.com.

Feeling

The contestants are doing something for which they could be arrested. It’s tense, but for many it is their only outlet for BDSM. And it is their only chance for fame and fortune, too. Some contestants shoot stuff as though it were fictional, some as though it were a documentary, but many break the fourth wall to speak directly to the fans and viewers because they know they are being filmed.

Make it gritty, edgy, exciting. Or make it cute as the character plays up to the cameras. Up to you. If you are old enough, it’s like recapturing that feeling the first time you saw BDSM porn on the web or a Usenet newsgroup!

Game Rules

These are optional but would help fit in with what we’re going to shoot.

The only weapon permitted in the contest is a stun gun, which stuns the target for six to ten seconds. We’re using Star Trek Next Generation phaser toys for this (with an appropriate “zappy” sound effect added in post). The guns recharge slowly: you only get one shot a minute. So dommes have to be quick and accurate at zapping a sub they want to steal or a domme they want to conquer.

The distinction between the Mistresses and Slaves on-screen is obvious. Slaves may or may not be naked, but Mistresses never are. Mistresses may or may not wear necklaces or neck adornment, but slaves are always collared.

You can enslave a mistress by stripping her naked and collaring her. Doing so will be grounds for a long-running feud. Should the mistress ever free herself, you’ll be her target forever.

You can steal a sub just by grabbing her and carrying her off. It is customary to replace at least her slave collar with one of your own when you get her back to your base.

To free yourself from slavery you need to get your collar off and get some clothes on, in theory. But in practice you need to physically escape from your captor’s clutches and shoot a film of yourself showing that you’re free for it to have any meaning in the game. Pics or it didn’t happen.

One exception: you may also free yourself if you manage to strip naked and collar your current owner on camera. If you achieve that, you are automatically freed and your previous owner is enslaved for a mandatory 24 hours where she cannot be freed by any means. Make good use of the time to either make good your escape or take control of your ex-owner’s household!

Styling

Slaves are ALWAYS collared. They are usually naked but nothing stops them filming themselves enslaved in sexy satin or hot lingerie or rainwear or latex or whatever their owner or fan-base prefers.

Dommes are ALWAYS clothed. They may possibly wear something around their necks but avoid anything which looks like a collar. Because losing all their clothes gets them perilously close to enslavement, they tend to wear multiple layers of clothes which are hard to remove.

In the RestrainedElegance.com version of #GameOfSlaves that means saris, chinese dresses, silk and satin, corsets and a steam-punk influence. See #GameOfSlaves Trailer page for more examples.

Because I’ve got a bare foot fetish, dommes and subs are usually barefoot in all our stuff (and on SilkSoles.com too. If you don’t have a strong feeling about footwear, making the girls barefoot would make me very happy ๐Ÿ™‚

In our stories, subs are mostly going to be locked up in metal whereas when dommes tie each other up, they usually use rope. That gives a rival domme chance to escape eventually (although not in time to prevent you running off with her stable of slaves). Using metal is tantamount to saying you want to enslave her, which is much more likely to spark a long-running feud.

Of course, subs can be rope tied for their owners’ or viewers’ pleasure as well!

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Visual styling: go low key, lots of darkness in frame with pools of light, saturated colours. Add some backlight for maximum glamour. Our style is lush, decadent, moody, elegant. Of course, a lot of the characters are selfie shooting so there can be a lot of variation.

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Stories and Ideas

For your first video, why not introduce your character? Who are you? Why do you want to be on #GameOfSlaves? If you love talking, like Ariel does, you could film a piece to camera in the manner of a YouTuber. If you hate talking, you could just shoot an edgy bondage video of yourself and post it just labelled with the hashtag. If your character is a domme, she could be punishing a sub, or just dominating the camera, or giving jerk off instructions, or have the camera spy on her in voyeuristic style. Really, anything sexy and shot with the background in mind should work just fine!

If you’re a solo model, you could do some simple self bondage with handcuffs (make sure the key works!). Or just tell the camera a fantasy you’d like to have enacted upon you. Want to be spanked? Want to tie someone up? Show it or say it. Shoot more explicit stuff than we’re good at- edging, toys, whatever.

Just make it sexy, intense, fast-paced, dramatic. The whole thing should be like a trailer for a film you just HAVE to see. Don’t hang around, change the camera angles a lot. Cut it down so it moves much faster than a normal one-rolling-take video. The characters are trying to grab attention in an underground, jaded setting. Make it compelling and stylish and leave them wanting more.

(That’s the thing we are going to be working on most intensively ourselves for 2017).

HAVE FUN!

#GameOfSlaves

Hi Everyone!

Today we launch the trailer for our new web series, Game of Slaves!

You can watch the trailer here:

Or direct on http://www.restrainedelegance.com/preview/video/GameOfSlaves_TrailerLogo1_1080p.mp4

The year is 2047

Europe has fallen

Sexual expression is censored

BDSM has gone underground

You have discovered the signal… #GameOfSlaves

Background

It’s been a while since we did a new “world” to set our stories in. The “Honest Omar Slave Auction world” is fun, so is “Nude in Metal”. I fancied doing an edgier, near-future science fiction setting with a dystopian feel. I also had a burning desire to do something a bit different in terms of look and aesthetics- still within the “RE style”, but incorporating elements we hadn’t used before into a distinctive style for the setting.

With DVD box sets and Netflix/Amazon Prime series being hot stuff recently, I also wanted a setting that could support multiple overlapping and independent storylines. It also had to be something that could support stand-alone episodes and motivate videos and photosets that are just simple bondage ideas set in the story world. (One trouble with “Honest Omar” is that it doesn’t suggest stories for single girl struggling videos).

So I came up with Game of Slaves. Competing slaves and competing dommes in an near-future, underground, edgy online BDSM competition, under the radar of normal society. A bit like the film Nerve, maybe with elements of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones (hey, if you’re going to steal inspiration, be bold!)

We’re starting with selfie videos of our first point of view characters, as the characters introduce themselves to the game. As the character gets popular in the world of the game, they get film crews following them around to document their every scene (we’ll get to more of those in 2017). There’s a lot of written background which will slowly get revealed as the storylines roll out.

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Style

I wanted to distinguish between the dommes and subs by dress code. Subs would normally be nude, but for interest and variety they could sometimes be clothed… but they would ALWAYS be collared. Dommes could sometimes wear chokers or necklaces or even collars of a sort, but they would ALWAYS be clothed.

If retaining your dominant status means keeping your clothes on, obviously the clothes should be hard to get off… which led me to the idea of corsets and overlapping layers of clothes.

Hence, corsets over Chinese dresses (also helps because dresses sourced from China generally don’t have the boobs and bum and narrow waist of western model girls- so if it fits on the boobs, it’ll very likely be loose at the waist. The corset fixes that, bingo!) I wanted to include an Indian element because that’s a form of cultural appropriation I’ve not yet indulged in, and a well-draped sari looks sexy and seductive as hell. It worked in some steampunk elements I’ve also been itching to use more.

Sari and satin blouse and corset in low key pools of light and dark = instant Game of Slaves!

While the subs get chained and collard and yoked and confined and dominated, I also wanted tension between the dommes. A good way of getting that was to make being a domme more popular, especially amongst new entrants. If two thirds of the competitors are dommes, subs become very valuable- and dommes will have to fight to defend their “stable”. Which immediately leads to rival dommes battling it out, tying each other up!

Having come up with those slinky sexy domme costumes I would have been very disappointed if the dommes hadn’t got tied up as often as the subs do!

For various reasons which will become clearer as the story unfolds, dommes are usually tied in rope, unless the rival domme already has a serious feud or is aiming to start one. Subs are usually chained and confined in inescapable metal bondage… unless their current owner or their fans like to see them in rope, of course.

You’ll also spot Game of Slaves cropping up on SilkSoles.com – in fact this week’s update is Penny Lee in her favourite domme outfit from the shoot doing a dominant foot tease set. Everyone had such fun with the new costumes and ideas on the Cornwall location shoot where we got Game of Slaves started that we just couldn’t resist shooting more foot fetish sets in the outfits!

Photographically/cinematographically, I’m working on an evolution of the RE style for Game of Slaves. I wanted something with pools of light and darkness, lush and saturated rich colours, more of a feeling of isolation and depth than the typical RE lighting patterns afford. So I’ve been investing in a bit more lighting gear and light formers to keep the RE flattering soft washes of light but offering more fall-off and more control over how much light hits the background.

This is work in progress! I want it to simultaneously look like an RE shot, but also have that chiaroscuro/film noir play of darkness. I’ve not pushed it too far in the noir direction yet- I’m still learning how to light for the look I want. You’ll see the style evolve as we shoot more into 2017, I’ve just invested in some serious new video lighting gear to facilitate that now I know where I’m aiming. (And it’ll replace the literally-on-the-blink lights we’ve been using for regular RE shoots as well of course, which will make our lives easier on shoot day!)

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Story

It took a while to figure out the tone and direction of the story. As usual for me, I like to “develop in play” – start shooting, and see where it goes, rather than planning too tightly ahead. As a result, the initial stories are a bit lighter and more comedy in tone than they were in my head. I’d aimed for an edgier, more underground feeling- something I only realised we’d not quite achieved when I got the films done through the edit. Some of the stills sets are already edgier, and next year’s films will include more exploration of the darker themes of the setting.

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We Need Your Help!

I hope Game of Slaves take on a life of its own. The setting is such that anyone can enter at any time- all they have to do is to shoot something and post it tagged with #GameOfSlaves. Then the fans and followers of the game can respond.

That’s true in the game world, and we can make it true in the real world, too!

We’d love your input, “in character” for the game. Tweet us and your favourite models to let them know what you’d like to see. Maybe we can make a real ranking based on tweets for the characters in the game, and drive the evolution of the characters and storylines that way.

For simplicity we’ve decided to use models’ names as their character names in the game, so tweeting @ArielAnderssen, @Temptress_Kate, @PennyLee92, @KobeATL, @AylaRoseModel, @sophiasmithuk, @toychloe and either copy in @RElegance or use hash-tag #GameOfSlaves. We’ll add more models as their characters appear in GameOfSlaves, of course!

We’d love to hear your thoughts, and the most popular ideas we’ll shoot for you. It’s like free customs ๐Ÿ™‚ Please stay respectful and remember the model will be tweeting other stuff, not just GameOfSlaves so be sure to introduce yourself politely and say that you’ve seen her on #GameOfSlaves and you’d like to see a certain idea.

Of course, we’d love it even more if you supported us fully by joining RestrainedElegance.com and/or SilkSoles.com. That way you can see all the video storylines and stills sets for Game of Slaves… and your membership fees are the ONLY way this thing gets funded and gets made!

We’ll be introducing LOTS of new models, new characters and new storylines in Game of Slaves in 2017 – we already have 13 shoots lined up!

Models and Producers

Kobe Lee already kindly shot her character’s intro video for us, as she’s in the US and we couldn’t shoot her out there. Hopefully we can shoot some of her character’s later storylines soon! We’d love to get other models and producers involved- there’s a style guide and some storyline suggestions which I can email to you if you’re interested. Or just shoot something BDSM-themed and post it under the hash-tag #GameOfSlaves and you’re good to go!

Game of Slaves : the full story in 2017

Watch this space as the storyline builds and we explore our new kinky setting in 2017!

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Good News and Visual Novels

Hi All,

Well, it’s been quite a week here in the UK. Politically, we’ve just shot ourselves in the knee-cap. It’s all a bit too depressing, so I wanted to post a few bits of good news.

1) Pandora won her appeal

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OFCOM, the UK regulator, over-turned the ruling by the over-zealous and now abolished UK video on demand regulator, ATVOD, banning Pandora’s site Dreams of Spanking, which is now back online and accepting sign-ups again. YAAAAY!!!!

You can read her thoughts about it on her blog. We had a chat about it with another friend producer a couple of weekends ago and all admitted that getting the tap on the shoulder from the censorious dead hand of the state is more stifling of one’s kink and creativity than any of us had expected. We’re so glad Dreams is back! None of us know what the future holds for the censorship climate in the UK- given the political turmoil this week, nobody knows.

So we’ll just have to keep chipping away and putting our points logically and rationally and make sure that we are heard (even if they go ahead and do it anyway). To this end, I’m supporting Pandora’s Patreon campaign to support her advocacy- and if you want to help kink survive online in Britain, please chip in a little too if you can!

2) I’m feeling a bit better

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a nasty attack of gastro-enteritis at the start of June which is taking a long time to get over. Yesterday I managed to walk up one the local hills- one of my fave local walks, around two hours round trip. This is much more than I managed last week, even if I was a bit tired and achy the next day. But OMG, progress! Very very happy!

3) I just discovered a whole new genre of thing!

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Watch CINDERS trailer on YouTube

I’ve always liked computer games, from the first ones I played on Swansea University mainframe computer when I went in to see my Mum at work in the holidays through to modern extravaganzas. Having been ill in the last few weeks and needing some non-physical amusements, I played a few. I finally got through BioShock Infinite, which is OK- lovely visuals, intriguing if horrible racist 1900’s dystopia background, and some story.

Trouble is by the time I finished the game I felt like going and checking myself into a high-security prison for mass-murdering psychopaths. My word, but there was a lot of killing and gore and blood. And as far as I am aware, I got to make exactly one decision during the whole game that had much impact beyond the end of the scene.

So I went looking to see if there was a different sort of game out there, and discovered a whole new genre!

Parenthetically- I don’t mind the odd bit of violence in games. I just prefer a lot less of it than BioShock Infinite, which is why I don’t usually play first-person shooters. I really appreciate games like Thief where there’s at least an option to resolve things by less-lethal means when you can, or sandboxes where you can play the game with a less-murderous characters (Elder Scrolls games like Oblivion and Skyrim have good plot threads for stealthy characters, which require less slaughter than some other story paths).

A bit of a Googling and searching of Steam turning up the visual novel genre, which I’d never heard of. Apparently big in Japan, popular with female players, there’s a huge number of these things revolving around high schools and dating and a lot with pretty linear stories… but also some stuff that looked really interesting.

I like games where what I choose to do makes a difference through the game and to the game’s ending (which is why I like BioWare games very much). Add that to a non-violent storyline and GORGEOUS art-work and I settled on my first purchase of the genre: Cinders, a game by Polish indie development studio Moa Cube.

It takes a little getting used to. There’s a LOT of talking, quite a few decisions, and not much else. It’s like a Bioware game with all the running around and killing stuff and levelling up removed, and just the character interactions remaining. Since Mass Effect 2 is probably my favourite game of all time, I’m good with that ๐Ÿ™‚ Makes a change from a LOT of killing, a few conversations and a very small number of decisions, which is what the routine fantasy and sci-fi RPG genres favour.

It may or may not appeal to you- playing Cinderella and trying to get one over on her sisters, step-mother, get the guy or get the hell out of Dodge, trust the Fairy godmother or really not. But if it sounds even faintly intriguing, I’d really encourage you to give it a go. Have I mentioned how gob-smackingly beautiful the artwork is?

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It’s not a long game- I got through it in one long-ish sitting. But it will bear re-playing, trying to achieve various different endings (I gather there may be “dead in a ditch” as one ending…). And the studio have another, larger game called Solstice which they just released, which I just bought and will start on once I have caught up on RE and SS stuff as I finish recuperating. The premise is really intriguing from the first scene, though.

Visual Novels for the Future?

Of course being nerdy introvert scientist Hywel, I had to look into visual novels more. I discovered a few game engines which look like they’d help a lot in setting one up. There’s an active community building them and sharing them, and a fair number commercially available.

Sad to say though it looks like MoaCube might not be making another soon. Well, unless we all go and buy Solstice and Cinders anyway!

Sounds like the indie games industry has hit the same market maturity issues as the porn industry. The studio head has blogged about how everything seems to have narrowed down onto Steam as a monopoly distribution channel, and how hard it can be to make a ripple with an indie game there. I hear that (try making a ripple with a single long, high-production-value movie on Clips4Sale if you don’t already have a fan base or channel in that genre).

And I hear the same thing from indies on the App store and musicians with online sales channels via iTunes and Spotify. All of these things have their wild west period, like membership websites did around 1997-2001, then settle into a small number of big players. At least the games guys don’t seem to have quite the industrial levels of piracy to contend with that porn does. (If you watch something on a tube site, know that it is 99% likely to be stolen. And the thief is making money pushing tacky adverts at your eyeballs while you watch someone else’s stolen work).

But still… I love the genre, and will be checking out more.

And better yet, even as polished and glorious a project as Cinders was made by a small team in a year and half… a few person-years of effort. That means it should be possible to do something interesting on a smaller and more modest scale in one’s spare time. There are some good tool-kits like Tyranobuilder and Ren’Py around to support it, too.

At this stage Ariel is probably rolling her eyes at me. We’re wildly over-committed, as the big work backlog following my illness shows. The last thing I should be doing is thinking of future projects, especially ones outside the core business. But what can the harm be in having a little play around with these tools in the odd hour before bed? After all I’ve got quite a head-start in terms of creating artwork and storylines… maybe a BDSM visual novel (well, let’s call it a visual short story) might be fun?

4) The mega-four-hour film is done!

The mega-four-hour custom film we shot a few weeks ago is done! It’s the longest and most ambitious single project we’ve ever done, and it would totally have fallen apart without Ariel, Zoe, Natalia and cameraperson Katie.

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I’ve still not decided 100% whether to put it up on Elegance Studios or serialise it for Restrained Elegance: it is a single story, and it kind-of sits as a companion story to Slave Auction and Pony Girl in some ways (the customer liked those films so much he wanted us to incorporate elements of those into the story for him).

But pragmatically distributing it as a single 9 GB MP4 file is going to break the downloads of anyone not on a fast internet connection, and any hiccup in the stream might see you back to square one. The shopping carts system isn’t really built for downloads that big. So I think serialising it on RE is the way to go: look out for it on the members’ area soon! It’s absolutely EPIC- Natalia Forrest sent as a secret agent into the depths of a slave-trading gang! Forced to learn how to be a perfect slave, how strip naked for her master or mistress, the positions a slave must adopt, how to talk dirty… and much, much more!

Just in time to shoot the SECOND film commissioned by the same customer this week! (Fortunately not quite such a gargantuan undertaking!) Should be fun!

All the best everyone!

Hywel

Another UK producer closes down- but proceeds to Backlash

Hi All,

I was sad to hear that Fred Gunn, who had not one but two of his films shown at the British Fetish Film Festival, has decided to close down his video sites. The final straw was ATVOD/OFCOM and the spectre of censorship- a vivid example of the chilling effect that censorship has above and beyond the actual damage to people they censor.

He has very kindly decided to run a closing down sale, with all proceeds going to Backlash, the organisation which is fighting for our sexual freedoms in the UK.

Find out more on his blog post here: https://umd.net/forums/could-you-all-help-save-britai and check out the sites:

http://www.messytease.com

http://www.burlesquetease.com

http://www.retropinuptease.com

Restrained Elegance is Fifteen Today!

I think there have been three major revolutions since I first launched Restrained Elegance back on 1st April 2001.

The digital camera revolution

From 35 mm slide film to Canon D30, D60, 5D, 7D, Hasselblad H3D, Sony A7RII. Panasonic camcorder to DVX100 to HVX200 to dSLR to RED, iPhone, GoPro, GH4 and A7RII. The capabilities of cameras today are like science fiction from 2000 when I first shot for the site. RE would not have been possible without: high quality, low cost, fast turnaround, and the ability to control the images as a one man band and still produce five updates a week. Fortunately there’s nothing but upside to this. You can buy a camera today for a pittance that will shoot images which were beyond the reach of professional photographers and cinematographers fifteen years ago. Enjoy it- make something for yourself! Go buy a bottom end digital camera or make a movie on your phone.

The Internet Revolution.

In 2001, the web was the wild west, and open and exciting frontier. Now it is a utility, an infrastructure as vital as electricity (and considerably more so than fixed-line telephones, which will be gone in a generation).

This transformation hasn’t been the unreserved good thing that the digital camera revolution has, but the promise of the internet is still there. The information available on a smart phone in your pocket wandering around town is STAGGERING.

We’re just not sure how to handle it as a species. How to balance the positive side of individuals and small communities getting their voice online with the fact that abhorrent people will do likewise to further their ghastly aims and objectives too. How much surveillance can we live with? How much control are we willing to outsource to multi-nationals? How much access should the state to have us, and all our personal data, communications and meta-data? There’s not an obvious right answer. I hope I am open-minded enough to accept that my own left-wing but very libertarian views may not be the best compromise for the human race- although I do note that every time human beings come out the other side of authoritarian regimes, they try to bake the rights of the individual against the state and the powerful into law. Which suggests we’d better watch it when the authoritarians suddenly get HUGE amounts of data and personal insight into all of us.

The Fundamentalist Fight-Back

The third revolution is most emphatically not a good thing. It’s the fight-back of the fundamentalists and traditionalists, especially when it comes to sexual matters. In 2001 when I launched Restrained Elegance it was a matter of quirky interest, at least in the liberal, middle-class, college-educated bubble I live in. Even the most reactionary right-wing press treated sexual matters as something of a joke back then. Right up until the point they decided to savage some poor public person for daring to have an ACTUAL sex life, rather than a Carry On Film slap and tickle, anyway.

Somehow, the Mary Whitehouse tendency got armed up and organised and pushed and pushed their agenda and used every scare tactic in the book until the whole idea of “sexual freedom of the individual” sounds a bit scary to modern ears. “Sexual freedom” oh doesn’t that mean
paedophiles and priests and celebrities and freaks and weirdos that AREN’T PEOPLE THEY ARE MONSTERS.

I profoundly hope that my analysis which follows will prove to be correct: I think the war is won. Generations have grown up with the internet and have seen EVERYTHING that has entered their heads to go looking. I doubt government will manage to put that genie back in the bottle, even if they go full Big Brother. My hope is that the kinky community are in the position now that the gay community were in back in the 1980’s. Under
attack from the conservatives, but an attack born of desperation, trying to turn back a tide that already turned.

Our niece is a film student. She knows what we do. She came to help out as an intern in her gap year. A few weeks ago she brought
her student film-maker team to make a mini-documentary about us. The film is excellent even though I say so myself (we hope to be able to
share it with you soon).

But the main thing I took away from the experience was how utterly unfazed a bunch of nineteen year olds were sitting in on a custom video shoot where I tied up Ariel and gagged her with a ball-gag over a pair of pantyhose over her head. How unfazed the removal men who moved us to our lovely weird house in Wales packing up the whips and chains and gags. How little the stocks on the landing bothered the alarm service guys who came to fix our burglar alarm last week. They find it funny, because it IS funny- a fun game we play. And that’s all. It isn’t a threat to our children or our pure Christian Aryan heritage.

There is a cultural war going on and victory isn’t certain. As Myles Jackman pointed out, one might say the same thing about the chemical generations. Most reasonably chilled out streetwise people from the sixties onwards know that not all illegal drugs are the same. The traditional mild forms of cannabis in particular may have some harm for vulnerable people but seem to be a damn site less harmful than other legal intoxicants, and have a clinically proven efficacy against some pretty shitty conditions. And yet the chemical generations have not managed to get it legalised. Indeed, the fear-and-flogging branch of our current government have already legislated to make everything with any sort of psycho-active effect illegal! (It’s being held up in implementation because even civil servants have figured out how hard to adjudicate that is). Woe betide the discoverer of the next coffee, or chocolate.

I didn’t mean this to turn into a self-pitying whine about censorship. But it is important that people like Restrained Elegance stand up and show that you can be into BDSM without being a freak, a weirdo, a danger, a criminal, a pervert. Kinky people are kinky, but still people the same as everyone else. Kinky teachers are not unfit to teach- any more than heterosexual married teachers or homosexual single teachers are unfit to teach.
The people who aren’t fit to teach are the ones who can’t distinguish right from wrong. Not the ones who like to tie up their partner for consensual fun every few weeks, any more than the ones who sometimes have a few too many glasses of wine with their partner every few months are unsuitable to ever stand in a classroom. You can be kinky and sane and safe.

I didn’t expect to have to fight this battle. I thought the internet and kinky websites and the growing acceptance of kink in society was a done deal. I’m a reluctant activist and I devoutly hope this will eventually go the hell away so we can just post kinky fun stuff.

More Changes

So those are the revolutions. Of course in fifteen years there have been innumerable small changes, less revolution, more evolution. I wondered what the main ones I could think of might be.

Inboxes

I went back to my emails from the early days of the site. In 2002 I had four inboxes worth thinking about- a day email job one, a Restrained Elegance email one, a personal email one. The fourth was not strictly speaking an inbox but served much the same function: a Yahoo groups/clubs account. A lot of the interesting fetish-related discussions had moved there from Usenet, and I used to check and reply to messages there regularly.

Total number of emails on the RE plus personal inboxes: about 10 a day. I can’t consult my particle physics inbox any more (the accounts have long since been deleted) but my memory was of a similar amount. Of order of ten messages a day, covering University business and research and all the communications I needed to be part of as part of the ATLAS collaboration at the LHC. Yahoo traffic was the same order of magnitude: maybe ten messages per day. I’d say there were of order of 30 messages which someone had typed and specifically intended me to read.

Most required a small amount of action on my part, but not more than a few minutes to read through the information and possibly quickly reply.

Today I have six genuine email inboxes, but Twitter and twitter direct messages effectively two more. Facebook ditto. Purpleport for models and shoot stuff. The RE forum. Comments on my blog. Yahoo groups have more or less died, but I follow various technical forums to keep up to date about stuff, and sometimes reply to, so they count as inboxes, too. Fetlife. Texts on my phone.

So the number of inboxes has proliferated.

Furthermore, the number of messages has increased. On a typical day I now get over a hundred messages of direct personal relevance to me.

I’m not counting likes/shares/ats/mentions here, just things a fellow human being has typed intending for me to read it. Most still require only a small amount of action on my part, but there’s an order of magnitude more of them than there used to be from the website emails, and more inboxes to check. I was shocked when I worked that out just now. No wonder I have to keep tweeting about being behind on my emails. I have at least triple, and by some measures ten times the load I had in 2001.

Always On

Related is the fact that because I can check my emails in the middle of the night if I wake up and need a pee, I do. In 2001 I had to switch on the computer, dial up, download the emails. I could then read them at leisure.

Now most of my inboxes would push notify me on my phone if I let them.

Ariel and I call it the cycle of doom. Twitter -> Facebook -> Email -> Fetlife -> PurplePort -> Texts -> Twitter -> repeat. It now takes a positive effort of will to create enough time offline to function.

At least people have got a bit used to delays in replying so I don’t get “hey you haven’t replied yet what are you doing you are a crook I am calling the FBI you bastard” emails quite so often now. (When I get them, it is invariably from an American who clearly doesn’t realise that if you email me at 3 o’clock in the morning UK time you will NOT get a reply within the hour).

But this is a big change in the admin load for running the website and having a life in the 21st Century. It is genuinely harder to make clear air time to think about stuff. I’m fifteen years older, of course, which won’t be helping. But it was only when I went and did a count of typical messages per day that I realised that objectively the load is a lot higher it was in the early days.

Video tape is history, DVDs are gone, Membership Sites may be next, and the rise of custom videos

When I started the site, the main way to get video content was still on video tape. Home-writable DVDs rose briefly but despite the better quality could never compete with the instant hit and uncensored nature of online video. Peter Ackworth flooded the web with free pictures to make his analysis that people will only pay for high-definition video and community into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Print magazines are dead in the erotica industry and are heading that way in the rest of the media too. Television has lost its monopoly, file sharing and pirate sites mean that all content creators are struggling to maintain any sort of business model in the internet age.

It’s not all doom and gloom. Whilst membership sites no longer bring in the money they did, it is still possible to launch a new site with energy and enthusiasm and bring in enough money to make it a very cheerful business. I think the “pay a little for a lot” model is still very attractive- personally, I love paying a small amount to access a huge amount of creative work from some photographer or model’s back catalogue!

What clearly has set the world alight is personal or bespoke service online. You can’t pirate an interactive experience, which is why webcam is huge.

But if you’ve ever tried to google your fave storyline idea for a bondage movie, you’ll find that for all the low-quality pirated crap out there, it’s simply not true that you can find anything you like for free on the internet.

If you like barefoot satin-clad blondes in elegant ballgowns tied and tortured, and you want to see a specific storyline, you’ll probably have more luck at the Restrained Elegance archives. But if you want to see your fantasy properly brought to life in detail, you simply will not find it pre-existing online.

And that’s why custom video has got so big. We noted it a couple of years ago at Fetishcon- pretty much every US producer we spoke to said that custom videos now financed all their shoots. You book the models and locations you need for the custom, cover the direct costs from the shoot fee you charge. If you’re really efficient you might be able to slip in an extra set or two for yourself at the end of the day, and put those up along with the customs on your membership site. The fees people are willing to pay aren’t always enough to pay the producer directly, so you’re usually working for free, but you can generate your own pay from selling the videos afterwards.

Customs are often be REALLY fun to shoot. Challenging, because you don’t have access to the scriptwriter on set to clarify questions, and obviously most commissioning customers aren’t professional scriptwriters. So it can be a tricky reading-between-the-lines guessing game. Shooting customs is a privilege- we get to see inside someone’s head, to their fantasies. Which are often imaginative and fun, at least if you have customers as fab as ours.

The only downside is that it can dilute your own vision, turn you into a cameraman rather than a writer/director/cameraman. I really hope there’s still room for us to shoot our own vision, and that people will still be willing to pay for it. Maybe we need to crowd-fund some of our more ambitious projects to get them off the ground? It is so hard to turn down hard cash to make customs to have enough time to devote to writing our own scripts!

But hell, that’s a really NICE problem to have. Too many people wanting us to make elegant and imaginative films for them? Yes, I think we’ll take that!

The Future?

So what might the future have in store for Restrained Elegance?

We’ve certainly got some challenges. Censorship, changing spending patterns and administrative overload are just obstacles to overcome. The fact is that in fifteen years the site and you lovely people who follow it have given me the opportunity to bring out the pictures in my head for all to see, and have helped me find a gorgeous super-model wife and partner in kink, and a weird studio house in Wales as the cottage studio in our cottage industry.

The possibilities are endless! I’ve just bought an infrared spotlight and infrared full HD video camera, for next to nothing. We’ve got a dungeon which is closed off to external light. So the first big experiment in our sixteenth year is going to be to see what we can do with a genuinely sense-deprived Ariel in the dark.

We’ve got shoots booked in a fab urban apartment, a spacious and well-equipped dungeon, a uniquely lovely converted farm with sublime colour co-ordination, and an industrial/warehouse space. Those things tick off a few items from a list I never dreamed would have already had 4500+ ideas done and dusted on it.

We’ve got not just one or two but multiple long movie shoots coming up, funded by custom video sponsors which will make our Elegance Studios lineup much more active this year (and it is only the damn time pressure which has stopped me releasing a couple of ES films which are already mostly finished).

We’ve run a film festival and tutorials intend to do more. We’ve got several new people coming to help out on crew, broadening the RE crew family. Fifteen years ago I’d never have believed that the “crew” listing on RE would include fifty people, some of whom are friends and some of whom are even family.

I’ve not gone to volcanic islands or filmed a really long pirate extravaganza. Assuming the censors don’t totally screw us over, I really want to get back to Scandinavia soon and get some more of that amazing six hours a day of golden hour, fjords and mountains and trees and cool blue northern skies. I’d love to shoot more with Claudia from Falcieri designs. I’ve never really shot Steampunk bondage the way I’d like to. We’ve got mountains and lakes all around us now which we’ve only scratched the surface of as far as locations go. I’ve had a “business bitch” epic film in my head for ages which needs to be developed, and I’d really like to film a proper bondage romance, too.

With the huge sensitivity of modern digital cameras, there are lighting situations to be explored that you’d have had to be Hollywood to simulate fifteen years ago. Now we can just shoot them for real. I’m about to book a new round of shoots and there are some models I’m really excited to shoot for the first time- and I’m even more excited about spending a week on location with some of the muses who have inspired the site since the beginning. Ariel has so many dark and kinky fantasies to film that we’d need a staff of a hundred to even scratch the surface. There are future RE members we haven’t met yet who will inspire us and come with us on shoots, or drop us a line on the forum which sparks an idea which turns into some romantic bondage images we’d never have been able to imagine on our own… and which fifteen years ago we’d not have had the skill or resources to bring to life even if we’d had the vision.

It’s going to be a hell of a ride!