Gay erotic film began, mostly, with Bob Mizer at AMG in Los Angeles in the mid ’50’s. In the late 1960’s, when nudes and hardcore sex became more or less legal, film really took off.
Chuck Holmes and Ken Albert started FALCON in San Francisco with a camera borrowed from Hal Call. Albert soon drifted away down to LA while Holmes continued with FALCON. In southern California William Sheffler, editor in chief of the very successful IN TOUCH magazine, left to start his own company, NOVA films. Sheffler had come out to SoCal from the midwest to meet Pat Milo whose photographic work inspired him to have a try at business himself. At IN TOUCH Scheffler came in contact with some of the best artists and photographers working in the early 70’s. So began NOVA.
With collectors during these early years there were only two major gay film producers; FALCON and NOVA, the latter being thought the best. On set, Sheffler would photograph a scene while a second camera would take stills for magazine layouts and catalog and press use. At that time in SoCal there was a huge talent pool of young men willing to make porn. Film production continued for about 10 years until video tape was developed and the business changed. Both Sheffler and Holmes managed the expensive change over and continued making and selling films (on tape). Falcon became the most successful in production and sales, and then along came DVD, another huge, expensive changeover. Holmes and FALCON adapted to the new format but Sheffler dropped out.
Right around this time William Higgins of Catalina Studio skedaddled off to Australia and left the business in the care of Bill Sheffler and Jim Hodges (of Brentwood Studio). Now we are in the new era of streaming video, free content and all the other innovations of the “information age.” Most of these great pioneers of the film era have retired although their work remains available and popular. And we are fortunate that Bill Sheffler left a treasure trove of black and white NOVA production stills for fans and collectors.
Trent Dunphy, The Magazine San Francisco, Ca. 2017