The "Make Love Not Porn" Documentary is Here

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Cindy Gallop is one of the most influential people in the advertising industry today. The former advertising executive and founder of BBH New York has become known for her relentless pursuit of gender and racial equality within the industry, a mission that’s landed her keynote speaking gigs at high-profile conferences like 3% and amassed her tens of thousands of Twitter followers along the way.

Yet despite her clout, the industry has largely shied away from Gallop’s sex startup, Make Love Not Porn. Gallop launched MakeLoveNotPorn.com in 2009 during a rousing TED Talk where she explained the purpose of the site: to debunk the myths of “hardcore porn,” myths that she believes have negatively impacted the way that people, particularly men, view and approach sex in the real world.

Since its launch, Gallop has turned Make Love Not Porn into a user-generated video-sharing platform where people can submit videos of themselves having “real world” sex. Her vision for Make Love Not Porn is to make it a hub for shareable sex; essentially, she wants to socialize sex in the same way that platforms like Twitter and Facebook have socialized other aspects of people’s lives.

Gallop has been frank about the struggles she’s had when it comes to getting investors to buy into her venture, a topic she’s discussed at length. She’s also been unable to raise money on popular crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe since they don’t allow for pornographic content. While she is currently having some success with crowdfunding site iFundWomen, where she’s raised nearly $50,000, Gallop is still only able to afford two full-time employees (herself and “Madam Curator” Sarah Beall) and admits that she has “no money for marketing.”

That’s why she was thrilled last summer when independent NYC agency Chandelier, a shop best known for its star-studded Old Navy campaigns, reached out to her to get involved with Make Love Not Porn. The agency offered up their creative retreat space in the Hamptons, a house dubbed “Mermaid Ranch,” to Gallop under one stipulation: she’d have to create something tangible during her stay there. When Gallop and Beall decided that they wanted to create a documentary about Make Love Not Porn while at Mermaid Ranch, Chandelier offered to fund the costs of creating the film and serve as the de facto agency on the project.

“We just thought it would be interesting to reach out to her and see if there was some sort of collaborative piece that we could do and how we could use the ranch,” said Jason Harler, Chandelier’s cultural alchemist. “Seeing that love and relationships and loving and being loved are such huge aspects of human life, we felt like what she was doing could be really positive for people.”

The result is a 15-minute documentary called “The Social Sex Revolution” that was shot over the span of four days and directed by Thalia Mavros. The SFW short film, which was recently screened at the Ace Hotel in New York, features some of the “MakeLoveNotPornstars” who have helped bring Gallop’s vision to life.

Gallop is quick to point out that Chandelier is the first and so far only advertising agency that has gone out of its way to proactively support Make Love Not Porn. She acknowledges that the risqué nature of the business is likely what stops agencies from collaborating with her at a corporate level, or the “fear of what other people will think.” She says that while many of her friends within the industry like what she’s trying to do and have helped her individually, that support never ascends to the agency level.

“I hate to say this because I love my industry, but it is not a brave industry at the moment in all sorts of ways,” she said. “This is just one of those ways.”

Walking the culture talk

Chandelier’s heavy emphasis on being culturally relevant is part of reason why the agency wanted to partner with Gallop. While many of today’s agencies are obsessed with the idea of “culture” and encourage their employees to create things that go beyond client work (the many Trump-related sites, gimmicks and projects that have been created over the past year are proof of that), Chandelier goes a step further than most agencies – for example, the agency recently took its entire creative team on an all-expenses-paid trip to Paris just to inspire them.

Last year, Chandelier hired Harler to fill the role of cultural alchemist and brought on Alex Stipanovich to take on the newly created position of culture director. Together, the two have worked to formalize the agency’s cultural offerings under the name “Chandelier Culture,” a branch that made its official launch with the debut of Gallop’s documentary.

Lauren Prince, president and CEO of Chandelier, said that the agency decided to launch the cultural division to ensure that the shop and its staffers would “play a role in what’s happening in today’s world.”

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“Last year, we thought, ‘okay, as an agency, we don’t just want to wholly focus on client work,’” she said. “We really want to shine a light on our team internally but also on the world externally and look how we mobilize in response to injustice and inequality. How do we shine a light on innovators and creators and explorers and people who are doing things across many different industries?”

Chandelier’s commitment to culture has manifested itself in different ways over the past year. The agency’s “Truth-tellers and troublemakers” series has featured everyone from linguist Maureen T. Matarese to “Design Guru” Jim Walrod, while its “Artist in Residence” program gives painters, sculptors, musicians and the like the chance to spend up to a month making art at Mermaid Ranch.

Recently, the agency commissioned furniture designer Tom Dixon to create beehives that will be installed at the agency’s “Flamingo Estate” space in LA, which will be part of Chandelier’s initiative to educate the public about the importance of saving the bees.

“We will work with him to create these bee hives, install them, and then essentially create these incredible stories around bees and educating people on the bee hives,” said Prince.

While the length and nature of Chandelier Culture’s endeavors vary depending upon who or what they’re partnering with, everything that comes out of the agency’s cultural arm is meant to inspire employees and provide them with new experiences.

“One of the things that's always been incredibly important to [our founder] Richard and that ultimately moves across the agency is keeping the team inspired,” she said. “It's about taking the team outside of their day-to-day life and lighting a fire and engaging them through all these incredible people.”

For Harler, the partnership and documentary launch with Gallop has been a source of inspiration for him personally, particularly since he was one of the only men who worked on the film.

"Having worked in film and commercials for a long time, it was really fascinating to see this kind of topic, of sex and sexuality, handled from a female lens," he said. "It was very inspiring and interesting. I think it made the piece ten times better."

(This article originally appeared on thedrum.com and was written by Minda Smiley)