(photo via Twitter @bryceless)
“After Porn Ends,” directed by alumnus Bryce Wagoner in 2010, is the number one documentary on iTunes.
A stay-at-home mom, a bounty hunter, a writer and other inherently “normal” citizens starring in the leading roles of everyday life. It may be invisible to some that these individuals were once stars in the adult entertainment industry.
ECU graduate Bryce Wagoner knew that this film, “After Porn Ends,” would provoke interest to his target audience by answering the questions of whether or not someone could live a normal life after living the life of a porn star. The film takes a view into the lives of real people who found their way in and out of the erotic film industry.
“I think that people from ECU will identify with them,” said Wagoner. “I think everybody from every walk of life will be able to identify…men and women from all different socioeconomic backgrounds.”
Just like a senior graduating from college stuck between the cross roads, Wagoner captured the hardships these former porn stars face when they’ve realized they’re at a point in their life where the industry isn’t for them.
“A lot of them have a really hard time getting back into the real world,” said Wagoner.
On May 29, Yahoo! announced Wagoner’s film as the number one documentary download on iTunes and number 31 movie download overall.
Wagoner says his successes didn’t just happen over night.
He contributes his rise to the top to the fact that he has Purple and Gold blood pumping through his veins.
“I always like to think that the chip on my shoulder is from being a Pirate,” said Wagoner. “That’s what we’re famous for… we’re the little b*****d school of North Carolina, but we still go out there and we fight harder than everybody else.”
A proud Pirate and member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, Wagoner says his time in Greenville was filled with nothing but great memories and is still a big part of his life.
“My time working in my fraternity helped me learn so much about organization and leadership skills that are actually really important to what I do as director,” said Wagoner. “The best thing about ECU is that they really let me dream…and they cultivated that and let me learn in a safe place.”
Coming from the small town of Lynchburg, Va., Wagoner knew Hollywood wasn’t just going to hand him success on a silver platter.
“So many people come out to Hollywood and they just try to jump in head first,” said Wagoner. “Yes, you have the talent and passion and all that good stuff, but unless you want to be a reality TV star, you have to work at it, and my time at East Carolina got me ready for that.”
When he graduated from military school, Wagoner entered the university as an exercise science and sports medicine major.
“I was getting close to graduating when hurricane Floyd hit,” he said. “I got back to classes and something inside me said that I don’t want to do this anymore.”
Like many college students do to find themselves, Wagoner took a semester off.
“I realized how much I always wrote in my free time,” said Wagoner.
Wagoner’s siblings were also studying theater at the time. “I just felt like I was denying my DNA,” said Wagoner.
After taking his first theatre class, Wagoner found his calling.
“I realized that this is what I have to do. I have to tell stories,” said Wagoner. “Either through a script that I’m reading or a script that I’m writing.”
After graduating, Wagoner packed his bag with the aspirations of becoming a successful director, producer, writer and actor he has become over the past decade.
“There’s a saying out here in L.A. and they call it the 10 year overnight success,” said Wagoner. “And for me it happens to be my 10th year.”
Wagoner stresses time as the key to having a competitive edge in an industry, like film.
“The most successful people you see, even people who went to the top film schools in the country, they spend some time…a lot of time,” Wagoner said. “And, that’s the right path…that’s what weeds the people who have and have not, the passion to do this.”
When Wagoner had the idea for “After Porn Ends,” he spent two years pitching the story.
“When finally I got the opportunity, I was ready,” said Wagoner. “Before the film was even finished, I had six other projects ready to go.”
Wagoner says it’s about taking the things that you love and making them better, marketable and viable.
“You don’t have to be in film to be passionate and successful and be creative,” said Wagoner. “I think if you have an open mind and the willingness to learn, life is going to be great.”
On top of directing one of the top independent films on the market, Bryce Wagoner has played lead performance rolls in films like the Emmy nominated television movie “The Flight that Fought Back,” as well as heading the production of other projects through his own company, Shield Pirate Productions.
Bryce Wagoner’s film, “After Porn Ends” will be premiering on Netflix on Monday.
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