Chanel Preston Discusses Directing, APAC, Career
LOS ANGELES — Chanel Preston told XBIZ her career choice means embracing the unexpected.
“With this job it never works out exactly how you plan it and it’s always kind of a whirlwind throughout the week,” Preston admits.
And for the ambitious native of Fairbanks, Alaska, who broke into porn in 2010, that’s just how she likes it.
On any given week, one of the busiest women in the industry may be performing, producing, directing, hosting or working on official business for the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC), the growing talent organization for which she has served as president since last August.
Indeed, the 2011 winner of the XBIZ Best New Starlet Award and the 2015 winner of the Free Speech Coalition’s Performer of the Year honor has accomplished more in her first five years in adult than many performers do in their entire careers.
“I’m pleased,” Preston said humbly. “I didn’t have a five-year plan. I knew I wanted to go somewhere and that I wanted to excel in this, but I wasn’t really sure what that meant for me.
“Now that I’ve been in it for this period of time and see the turnover among performers, I feel really grateful for being in this long and to be able to work consistently. I think that’s a big deal.”
Speaking of big deals, she’s been making a lot of them in recent months. She kicked off the next phase of her career earlier this year, rolling out her directorial debut “Chanel Movie One” through James Deen Productions and the studio’s exclusive distributor, Girlfriends Films.
Preston is the first and only person with a directing deal with the superstar Deen’s production label. She followed “Chanel Movie One,” which was an all-girl vignette title, with the fetish-themed “Smoke” in April, marking her first foray into directing boy/girl scenes. Girlfriends Films shipped Preston’s third movie for James Deen Productions in June — the high-fashion themed “Too Pretty for Porn.”
Then she took another step in her development, operating the second camera for the first time in her recently wrapped fantasy movie “All in Your Head,” which will be released on Sept. 18.
“When I do anything I want to be really good at it,” said Preston, who grew up participating in Shakespeare theatre and drama-related programs.
“I’ve been learning a lot about lighting because I know that it’s so important. And James suggested I shoot camera. I had been kind of dabbling with photography over the last year, so I’ve become familiar with composition.
“I was really nervous at first but Ben Hoffman shoots camera for me and he gave me an overview and I started doing it and I liked it. Now I really enjoy it. We have a good vibe going on and it worked out well.”
Preston said her schedule entails producing and directing a movie every other month, but she often finds the most inspiration for scenes and setups during the final two weeks leading up to the shoot.
“I work best under pressure,” Preston revealed. “That’s when I come up with my best ideas.”
She said she and Deen had sustained an ongoing dialogue about working together more closely for months before he gave her a shot to direct.
“He saw that I had a unique vision,” Preston recalled. “I was really nervous because I had never directed anything before so I felt like there was a heavy weight on my shoulders and some high expectations. But the first one went really well and James was pleased with it and that gave me confidence. And he said this one [‘All in Your Head’] is his favorite one.”
Even though the move behind the camera now occupies a lot of Preston's time, she has not slowed down performing for other studios and continues to diversify her brand with projects like her “Naked with Chanel” web series, which launched last year. Preston uses the series to help viewers shed their inhibitions and negative attitudes about sex.
A natural spokesmodel and host, Preston also gained invaluable experience in recent years as the face of X3Sixty’s cable TV program, “Inside Adult."
Meanwhile, APAC is moving forward under Preston’s watch. Earlier this week it announced an alignment with First Entertainment Credit Union, which is now offering membership benefits to APAC constituents.
This Sunday APAC will welcome representatives from First Entertainment to its monthly meeting, where the banking pros will be available to answer questions and enroll new members.
“Something else big that we’re working on now is creating an APAC Stamp of Approval,” Preston explained. “Right now we’re just working on professionals such as doctors, attorneys and accountants. In order to get that stamp they have to follow certain guidelines. It gives performers a little more power. Eventually, we’ll also do that for producers and even agencies.
“It builds trust and encourages a certain degree of professionalism.”
Preston said the first invitation for professionals who'd like to receive an APAC stamp would be going out within the next two months.
The personable star didn’t seek out her leadership position on the APAC Board of Directors, but she also didn’t shy away from it.
“It just sort of happened from our meetings. We all kind of naturally fell into our places. I do think we have a really amazing board right now,” Preston said. “I’m very pleased with it. Besides just falling into it from those meetings, I’ve positioned myself to be in that realm because I’ve done a lot of advocacy work outside the industry and I've had a media platform. So I set myself up for it unintentionally.
“I enjoy it. I do feel like I’m capable of repping the industry, so I should. I care about the industry, so if I can represent it well I do want to be up there doing that. This is my career. I’m invested in it and I care about what happens to the people in this industry."
Preston, a licensed aesthetician who managed a skin care line at Nordstrom's and also did exotic dancing in Honolulu before porn, said that five-and-a-half years, 360-something movies and several awards later, she doesn’t have much of a wish list left to check off.
“I’ve already done most of the things I wanted to do and that’s why I like directing right now because it’s a creative outlet,” said Preston, a Spiegler Girl who was the Penthouse Pet in March 2012.
But she teased another upcoming project that will take her into uncharted territory. She'll soon be launching a sex-related podcast.
“I’m excited about it,” Preston said. “I love having conversations about sexuality. I’ll be co-hosting it with a friend of mine who is not involved in the industry but has worked in politics. He brings a good perspective.”