Money Shot: The Pornhub Story
Main Image: Porn content creator Gwen Adora pictured in Money Shot: The Pornhub Story. Courtesy of Netflix.

Director Suzanne Hillinger just made a documentary about Pornhub. But if you’re scrolling Netflix and you click on Money Shot: The Pornhub Story expecting to be shocked by the wild and crazy lifestyle of a porn star, you’re in for a different, and potentially educational, experience.

Hillinger and Alexis Johnson, the film’s editor, weren’t interested in making your average salacious documentary about sex. Instead, they were a lot more interested in normalizing — and humanizing — the real-life people on the other side of the screen who just happen to be professional Porn content creators for a living.

Money Shot: The Pornhub Story Director on Avoiding Salaciousness

“It’s not a salacious movie. So, yeah, I think people will tune in maybe because they’re curious —and hopefully, they’ll come away learning something from it,” Hillinger tells MovieMaker.

“There are so many documentaries and narrative films that have come out in the last decade or two about the porn industry, that even if they’re trying to say something more nuanced, they’re still using the fact that these are people who have sex for a living as the way to lure people into their story,” she adds.

“You can’t see anything else about them — that’s all you think about because you’re human. So, to me, it was really important the way that we shot the interviews, for example — that the environment around each interview subject is very much a part of the frame, that these are people in their homes, with details and lives and plants and pets and shoes in the background.”

Money Shot: The Pornhub Story starts off lighthearted, with real sex workers explaining how they got into the industry and first began to make a living from Pornhub.

Then it gets darker, delving into how many of them lost their livelihoods after major credit card companies suspended their payment processing through Pornhub in light of a New York Times op-ed on the #TraffickingHub movement, which accused Pornhub’s parent company, MindGeek, of profitting off of child pornography and nonconsensual sex videos that were being posted to the site by unverified users.

In a hearing with the Canadian House of Commons Ethics Committee as part of their investigation into MindGeek, the company denied that they ever knowingly monetized any illegal content.

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PornHub Responds to the Money Shot Documentary

On Thursday, MindGeek was acquired by Canadian private equity firm Ethical Capital Partners. The new owners have vowed to make MindGeek “the internet leader in fighting illegal online content,” according to a statement obtained by Variety.

Suffice to say — the internet is far from perfect, and there is still a lot of work to be done to keep nonconsensual sexual material off of all websites, even ones like Facebook and Twitter, let alone porn websites like Pornhub. Hillinger and Johnson don’t purport to have all the necessary solutions to stopping child sex trafficking and preventing it from ending up in various corners of the internet, Pornhub or elsewhere.

But after watching Money Shot: The Pornhub Story, the editor and director want audiences to walk away with a respect for, and an understanding of, the sex workers and content creators who actually make porn legally, ethically, and consensually — and pay their rent while they’re at it.

Boogie Nights was, what, over 20 years ago? But people still have this idea that that’s a porn star’s life,” Johnson says. “So much of the industry, especially because of OnlyFans — and even the ability to upload anything to Pornhub as a verified content maker or not — has put it back in the hands of the porn performers.”

That allows porn creators to make money from non-sexual things, too, like Siri Dahl, who is shown in the documentary ratings dick pics for $30 a pop.

“We wanted to break that mold,” Johnson says. “I mean, one of our other interview subjects sells toenail clippings and makes a really good living off of that,” Johnson says.

At the end of the day, Johnson and Hillinger say, sex work is just another form of employment, and they hope that MoneyShot: The Pornhub Story gives the public a non-salacious, realistic glimpse into the everyday lives of sex workers.

“That was, I think, really important to just shift the perspective a little bit. But also, that was one of the things we really wanted to show, is that sex work is work,” Hillinger says. “Work has its boring parts and it’s gruntwork parts, so we wanted to film it and make sure it also made it into the movie in this way that was kind of casual. You’re just seeing [content creator Gwen Adora] work. This is her job. This is what she does every day… normalizing it, because it is a job that people have and they get paid to do. And there are lots of people who do it.”

MoneyShot: The Pornhub Story is now streaming on Netflix.

Main Image: Porn content creator Gwen Adora pictured in Money Shot: The Pornhub Story. Courtesy of Netflix.