Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Ryan Sullivan's Island

'Island' is the final film produced by young film maker Ryan Sullivan (pictured right) and it is drawn together from the various episodes that have appeared as Ryan Sullivan's Island - the blog and later the website. Check out the blog here and the website here but both are NSFW and not appropriate for those 'easily offended'. Think that's all the safeguards out of the way!

I've been captivated by the films that were originally about exploring the bareback porn company Treasure Island Media (TIM) (again, NSFW!). As the episodes progressed, they became more about Ryan or 'Sully'. I've recently presented some work on the blog/website he created and the videos that made up that site. I'm working up a full article which I hope to fire off later in the summer. It's briefly touched upon in a broader bareback article due out in the next month with the Journal of Criminal Law. I know already that the JCL article will annoy a lot of people for the fact I don't condemn Morris, bareback porn or bareback as a social practice but more about that once it's published. You can have a look at my slides from the recent presentation on Ryan Sullivan's Island here.

So anyway, we now have the final film. Ryan is now a TIM employee and porn maker and this transformation was for me one of the most exciting aspects of the series which is sadly less clear in the full film. When Sully offered copies of his DVD for free to followers I asked and (much to my surprise) a FedEx parcel came along. Pretty generous given it came all the way from SF. I sat down and watched it and found it to have a very different feel from the series. Inevitably - you're not waiting for the next installment. Episodes are drawn together around themes - but this pretty much works. The brother storyline remains but it seems to sit uneasily within Island - although it has a clearer rationale in this film than in the episodes. I still remain a sceptic about the authenticity (although as I argue in my paper, this is largely irrelevant in conventional terms and authenticity is rendered more complex). I thought the style of captions - and Sully rendered 'silent' at least in verbal terms would become a little dull over a full film but it works.

Moreover, the film as a whole works and will no doubt be an important contribution to film and the wider social context of barebacking. It's certainly a must see for anyone embarking upon an academic exploration of bareback sex and I hope it does well at the film festivals it is entering. The question remains - what now for Ryan? Perhaps more importantly for RSI followers, what next for his brother? The recent announcement by Paul Morris about an HIV 'only' line could include his brother who is openly HIV positive and as we see in RSI has performed in some footage for Morris. The Island still has many stories within it.

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