Porn star James Deen has blocked the distribution of a documentary that addresses rape allegations against him, according to a lawsuit filed by the film’s director.
Maria Demopoulos alleges Deen thwarted the film’s distribution on Showtime by taking the signed releases from her producer’s office. Demopoulos (“The Source Family”) accuses Deen of fraud, conversion, and breach of fiduciary duty, and claims she is owed at least $150,000.
According to the suit, Demopoulos was hired by Deen’s company, Seven Sins, to direct the documentary in 2015. She shot footage of Deen at the AVN convention in Las Vegas and elsewhere, conducted interviews and gathered archival footage. She was on track to complete a director’s cut in late 2015, when Deen’s ex-girlfriend, Stoya, went on Twitter and accused him of rape. Another dozen women came forward with other allegations against Deen.
The first cut of the film, delivered on Dec. 27, 2015, did not include reference to any of the allegations. Her producer and a Showtime executive agreed that the film — originally expected to be broadcast in mid-2016 — would have to be re-edited to address the new claims.
Demopoulos says she conducted additional interviews, re-interviewed subjects such as Bret Easton Ellis, and pursued several of Deen’s accusers. Each of the subjects who appeared in the film signed releases. In July 2016, Demopoulos delivered a second version of the film to Showtime.
The producers screened the second version for Deen on July 30, 2016. He had some requests for changes, but his overall reaction appeared to be positive, the suit alleges. However, three months later Deen appeared unannounced at the producer’s Culver City office. The producer was out of state shooting a film, and Deen persuaded a production assistant to turn over a binder of signed releases, Demopoulos claims.
Deen also asked a post-production staffer for the footage from the film, but the staffer recognized him and refused, the suit states, and Deen then walked out with the binder. Without the original releases, Demopoulos says the film cannot be shown at film festivals or aired on Showtime.
“This was all captured on security footage,” the suit claims. “Defendant James Deen maliciously refused, and continues to refuse, to return the original releases, thereby hijacking the Picture to the substantial detriment of Plaintiff, as well as that of her Producer and of Showtime.”
Two days later, Deen tweeted: “I respect the desire (need) to fight tooth and nail until you have no other options when it’s for something thats right… despite all odds.” Demopoulos perceived this as a threat and an admission that he had taken the binder to prevent the film from being distributed.
According to the suit, Deen subsequently told Demopoulos that he owns the production company and can control the release of the film.
“These are my binders,” Deen said in an email, according to the suit. “They will stay with me. I also will be picking up copies of the footage as soon as the[y] are able to transport it onto drives.”
Demopolous alleges she originally thought the project would take only one year, and was not paid for the additional work required after the rape allegations surfaced. She also says she accepted a lower rate because Showtime had agreed to air the film. Demopolous accuses Deen of interfering with her relationship with Showtime.
Deen’s attorney declined to comment on the suit.