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A Guy from Toronto Made a Documentary About His Former Porn Obsession

14 years ago, a filmmaker named Matt Pollock started making a documentary that was ostensibly about his burning desire to lose his virginity. The film,<I> Run, Run Its Him</i>, has now been released, and is actually about his porn addiction and how it...



Matt Pollack's porn glow portrait. Photo via by Dan Epstein.
When Matt Pollack was 24, his desire to lose his virginity was so strong that he started making a documentary about it. Now the Toronto-based filmmaker is 38, engaged to be married, and finally releasing his film Run, Run It’s Him online. What began as a lo-fi doc filmed on his parents’ camcorder with his best friend Jamie Popowich became a self-reflexive examination of Pollack’s porn addiction and how it impacted his relationships with women. Run, Run It’s Him is funny, honest, and engaging. It made me feel both really uncomfortable and occasionally slightly turned on. We talked to Matt Pollack at his house.

You can download his film for ten bucks at runrunitshim.com.

VICE: When you started filming, you were a 24-year-old virgin. What was your state of mind like?
Matt Pollack: Well, I was really depressed. I had read this book A Fan’s Notes, which exploded my brain. Because it was about this guy writing about the failure of his life as a football fan, and at that point I really considered the failure of my life to be that I hadn’t gotten laid yet.

Right.
So I tried a few places to help me produce my film, but I couldn’t get a grant. So I was like fuck it, I’ll just do it on this camcorder that my parents bought me in high school with my friend Jamie. Then I did get laid. I was pretty into pornography, but it was something that I used to weather the storm. But once I got laid, I found that my porn intake increased. One day Jamie and I were filming at my parents’ house, and I wanted part of the film to be about my porn habit.

Did you have any inspirations or references?
If anything, I wanted to take those documentaries by Errol Morris or Werner Herzog, any of those freaks who are in those movies. And it’s like, what would happen if one of them were like, you know, fuck this guy. I’m gonna make my own movie about myself. Most porn documentaries take it as a social or a political issue. But there’s not really a movie about the patsies in all of this, the users.

At the end of the film, you make your female friends watch some of your favourite porn scenes. What did you show them, exactly?
There was a scene from Extreme Teen, which was a really pretty heavy series. There was a scene from Barely Legal. I would show up at their place and film them watching the tape and then say, “OK, I’ll come back to do a second interview.” I would have to wait outside while they watched my porn. And I just couldn’t handle it—I didn’t want to hear it.

You felt humiliated?
It was just too much. But then I would have to come back in and get the camera. That was always the weirdest, self-hating moment. But it also made me realize this is a good idea.

Do you compartmentalize porn and sex? Like, when you’re watching a scene that really turns you on, would you still want that to happen in real life?
No! Those were the scenes I had access to when I was a teenager. But I never thought of it as, this is what I want in real life. I always thought of it as: “This is what I have to do until I meet a girl who will maybe have sex with me.” And after I started having sex, it became more like, this is something to do. It’s not something I use anymore.

You don’t watch porn anymore?
Well, I moved in with this girl a couple years ago and it was a complete disaster. I moved in and moved out in 37 days. So, I was jerking off a lot and I was like: this is great. But then a couple months go by and I was in a Starbucks and this girl started talking to me. And I found I couldn’t introduce myself. I was 36. And I just felt so tired. Because I got into doing the online thing, and you’re trolling through these sites, and I was like favouriting scenes, and it would take hours. I don’t want people to think that the people who do this are sick, or something. But I do think there has to be a feeling of Jesus Christ, I’m kind of wasting away here.

What effect did watching a lot of porn have on you?
I think it made me more terrified of sex. It’s fucking embarrassing when you’re watching all this stuff and you’ve literally never seen a vagina in person, but you’d seen them do all this crazy shit! I don’t know what specific damage it did, other than making me feel terribly ashamed. Making the movie was a way of saying, oh, I wish a movie like this existed when I was going through this shit.

Who do you think was the hardest person to come clean to?
The hardest thing was showing my parents the movie after I finished it.

Even though they’re in it.
I never really told them in black and white terms what it was about. So they were just completely blindsided by it. When they saw it, they didn’t call me for three days. And then my dad called me and was like: “We were deeply disturbed by your film.” So I had to go over to their place and have a pretty frank discussion.

What did your mom say?
She was just kind of aghast. There’s a person in the film, “Jenna,” who’s one of the sample girls that is pretty hard on me. And my mom said she was the one character that she felt made sense in the movie. But it’s fine, I’m glad she expects more of me.

Do you ever feel nostalgic for your adult video store days?
I like that I captured a part of the city that’s gone now. I have a funny memory of this Chinese teenager trying to buy a fake vagina at a porn place. And he kept asking the salesman, like “Why is this one $20 more than this one? What will this offer me?” And the salesman was just like: “Look, you’re not buying a fucking computer here. Just take what you can get.” So I have some funny memories, or just pseudo-Toronto celebrities that I would sometime see in those places. But other than that, it was just kind of grim.

What did you do with all your porn tapes?
I actually just took the box and left it behind the Metro Theatre on Bloor Street. Sure enough, a couple of days later it was gone. Certainly there was some relief there. But another part of me was like, Hey, this stuff belongs in the Smithsonian.


@clevack