Monthly Archives: March 2009

Spring Magic

Petra Joy

Turns out things aren’t as bad as I thought. I heard back from my solicitor and he advised me that titles are indeed copyrighted – even if they were not registered.

Phew, what a relief!!! He will now act on my behalf and make sure that that porn film will not be distributed (at least in Germany) under my title.

Sometimes I just feel overwhelmed from the “big” industry, kind of like a little David and they are the Goliath. This scenario might be true often enough, but not always; there is such thing as justice and I am so glad that in some ways the law protects creative people from being ripped off.

So it’s all good today. The sun is shining in my garden, my bunnies are frisky and I’m smiling again.

Enjoy these daffodil-days and the spring magic!

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The battle for distribution

Petra Joy

I am delighted to say that my latest film “Her Porn” – a compilation of some of the best porn by and for women – is almost finished. This is a bitter-sweet time. It is both a climax and an anticlimax to finish a project I have been working for almost a year now. It is exciting to finally hold a great film in my hands, backed up by the second disc featuring interviews with all the filmmakers that I shot last year all over Europe. So much travel and viewing time went into this release that I can’t wait to share it with the world and give the diamonds of films I ‘discovered’ the exposure they deserve.

It is also a sad time, as now the creative work that I enjoy is over and the battle for distribution begins. Now it is all about being a business woman and talk figures with the the buyers who do have no interest in the content at all.

Believe it or not, but 90% of the buyers for the adult industry do not view a new DVD or even bother to read the press release. They buy a new film simply based on the cover and on the profit they hope to make with this product. Me being me (a slightly obsessed perfectionist) I created a feature that is 110 minutes long (rather than splitting it into two parts), made a special feature disc with 90 more minutes of content and had a 4-page booklet designed to provide further info on the filmmakers. It is a luxury double disc edition that I am proud of.

But this does not interest or convince the buyers. They offer the same wholesale price for this double DVD that they would pay for a cheaply produced gonzo film on a single disc. And they make me pick up the difference. It does not help that DVD duplication costs have jumped up by almost 30% whilst at the same time whole-sellers offer the lowest price and make the smallest orders since I have been in this business. These are tough times and so the sleepless nights begin – tossing and turning, wondering if I will be able to make the huge amount of money back that I invested into this release and, just as importantly, be able to make a profit so that all the participating filmmakers get some healthy royalties?

It is not surprising that there are so few quality products being produced at the moment when no one believes in a high end product but wants to buy cheap tack in order to sell lots and lots of it quickly at bottom prices but with a hefty profit. The (female) viewers might crave and appreciate quality and content but if the movers and shakers of the industry are not willing to pay the price for these kind of films, then producers like myself might simply not be able to produce this quality any longer.

I have been asking myself why I had to do such a long feature and shoot all the interviews and create the booklet when it would have been so much cheaper and easier to produce just one short film on one disc. I did it because I believe that this is what the filmmakers deserve and the (female) viewers want and enjoy. Women identify with the female filmmakers and want to find out what their vision is and because this information is not available on any DVD so far, I thought it was important to do it. I did it because I enjoyed doing it. I loved working on the intro animation and the moving menu and to review every single short film myself.

I am a sucker for frills. ‘No frills’ bores me. It is the little bit extra, the icing on the cake that I am good at. I cannot imagine to ever just publish a product with the eye on profit margin and profit margin alone. That would be the end of doing what I believe in. That would be the end of joy. I might as well be selling cars. And that is not going to happen.


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Beware of cheap imitations

Petra Joy

Reading the current issue of an adult trade magazine made me look at a new release catalogue from a German distribution company. I could not believe my eyes when I saw that the company “12 Sextuary” was bringing out a film called –“Female Fantasies” – exactly the same title as my award-winning film that I published in 2007. You would have thought that when publishing a film the first thing one does as a producer is a Google search to see if this title already exists. I had originally wanted to call my third film “Art-core” – a term I helped to coin but found out that a series of porn films with the same title already existed in the States, so I came up with a new title – “Feeling It”" – just to avoid confusion for the buyers. One of the titles I thought of for my upcoming compilation “Her Porn” was “Clitflixx” until I found out that there was already a Lesbian Film label in Germany called “Clitclips”. I contacted them and they were not happy with me using the similar “Clitflixx” – needless to say I of course respected their wishes. It is not easy or cheap to protect and patent a title but I am beginning to think it is a wise decision – especially when somebody uses my titles for completely different purposes than intended by me.

I could of course live with a book on “Female Fantasies” based on genuine female fantasies or a documentary with the title but a male-made mainstream hard –core film featuring male fantasies and calling it “Female Fantasies” is a farce.

I am of course concerned that many sex shops might not sell the original “Female Fantasies” but the mainstream version featuring “sluts who …” (their advertising text). As my “Female Fantasies” has had so much press exposure and the title has become well known, I am concerned that people will go to a sex shop and buy the male version of “Female Fantasies” assuming it is my film – just to be bitterly disappointed with an endless parade of genitals in close-up and cum shots assuming this is what I sell as “Female Fantasies”.

I am very well known in the (German) adult industry so have my suspicions that this title was chosen on purpose to jump on the bandwagon of the positive publicity I and this film has had.

I am angry and disappointed and feel helpless as I don’t think I am in a strong enough position legally to make them change their title before this DVD hits the shops. Now I am worried; What’s next? A Petra Joy website with an obscure extension that I did not think of registering which features the most extreme gonzo porn?! Then again some people say that to be copied is a form of flattery…

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This is a man’s world – even on international woman’s day

International woman's day

It is the year 2009 and you would think we have come a long way towards equality of the sexes but the papers are full with reports of violence against women – it happens all the time on many different levels all around the world. Every time I hear or read about women being assaulted, violated, hurt – my heart sinks and I wish there was more that I could do rather than raising awareness and giving an annual donation to a local shelter for beaten women.

Not much has changed if on gossip websites people accuse Rihanna to have “provoked” her boyfriend to beat her face green and blue. When will people realise that nothing that any woman does will justify her being beaten up or raped or killed? When will the aggressors take responsibility?

But then again “rape” is not even considered a crime in some countries. In Haiti it was not a crime until 2005. It was a free for all (men) kind of society. As if women were just there for the picking whenever any guy feels like having violent sex or degrading another human being. As if women were just there to satisfy men – with no will or choice of their own. Where there is no punishment, there can’t be a crime. And if it is no crime to rape and violate a woman’s body and break her spirit, it degrades women to pieces of meat no better than cattle. Even though rape is now officially a crime in Haiti rapes still take place regularly on a huge scale: half of the women who live in the slums of Port-U-Prince have been raped by gangs of armed men. And the government does little to punish the offenders. One of the big problems is that the very men who should enforce the law and protect women from becoming victims are often the rapists: policemen.

Amnesty International has now launched an online petition to protest about the high incidence of rape in Haiti – please support their online petition. The more people are aware of this issue and voice their opinion, the better. We care, so let’s express our opinion – otherwise nothing will change: http://www.tinyurl.com/c5ohzm. Only 229 people have signed so far, so a few minutes of your time can make a real difference.

Unfortunately the porn industry is still guilty of churning out movies that degrade women and – it seems that a lot of men only feel good about themselves if they are portrayed as the superior sex, the one in control who put women (sluts) into their place (down). “Eat dirt bitch”. “She gets what she deserves”. Those are powerful messages that can reinforce how already-sexist men think about and possibly treat women.

I will never forget one of my first experiences with misogynist porn. Being a feminist in the eighties when the first PorNO campaign kicked off, I wanted to find out what porn was all about. I did not want to be just against porn because I was a feminist. I rented 70 porn films from a German video store and watched them all over one weekend. I was shocked to see that most films were more or less violent towards women in words or actions. I will never ever forget one film that I viewed. It was called “Bondage Classics” and featured grainy short films in which women were tortured. They were chased, tied up, beaten and one woman had her nipple and lips ripped by barb wire. This had nothing to do with consensual S/M play and pleasure through role-plays of submission and domination. This was glorified violence against women – designed to turn men on. Even though I tried my best, I never found out where this film came from – it looked like a genuine snuff movie showing masked and faceless men, torturing women who looked genuinely scared. You could see the women screaming but you could not hear them because there was a wall-to-wall horror soundtrack. This film left such a deep impression on me that it made me shoot my first ever documentary called “Smash the chains” which intercut the scenes of women being tortured with images of strong women, practising self defence. I chose James Browns music as a soundtrack for this film:

“This is a man’s world but it would be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl!”

I look forward to the day when international woman’s day will be a celebration of womanhood because we won’t need to fight violence against women any longer. The violence that still happens on so many levels every day.

One day it will happen.

I have a dream…

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Women behind the camera!

Petra Joy

Did you know that only 6% if Hollywood directors are female and no female director has ever won an Oscar? This percentage falls even more when it comes to erotic films and awards – women directing sex films and wining adult industry awards for them are still a tiny, creative minority.

All our life we are being told that “women are just not visual”. It is one of the most annoying prejudices I have ever heard. As a photographer and filmmaker I am highly visual and always have been. I got my first camera on my 6th birthday and spent many weekends of my teenage years in the darkroom processing my photography. But then I had been lucky because my parents never told me that as a female I was not visual but fed me a huge variety of visual art and most importantly encouraged me to make express myself with my own images.

I think the reason why a many women relate more to literature than films – be it porn, documentaries or feature films is not because they “are not visual” but because most of the films we see have been produced and directed by men. They feature heroes rather than heroines and show the world through the eyes of a man. No matter if it is a porn or a feature film – these films do not express what women dream and fantasize about and therefore so many of us can’t identify with them and don’t enjoy watching them. At least if you read a book you can create your own images in your mind when you bring the characters to live rather than having to just consume how a film represents the leading female and male characters. There is such a big difference between the female and male gaze. If you let a male and a female cameraperson shoot a fashion show you will end up with completely different footage. This different perspective is enhanced in porn where female fantasies are often the opposite of straight make fantasies: women would like to see two guys going down on them in a threesome, men would like to see two women giving a guy a blowjob. Straight men would like to see a woman masturbate or two girls having sex; straight women would like to watch a man masturbate and two guys making out. The straight female gaze is a lot closer to the gay male point of view: for both of them men are the objects of desire.

For so long women always have been the objects of desire especially in porn that now when we see a man in that position it causes a stir in the (porn) film industry. The reality is that women ware voyeurs too but until more and more women are starting to direct and shoot films we will still see the world from a male perspective.

I am just as annoyed by porn that reduces women to a canvas of male cum as I am with the wave of recent so called “chick flicks” (all produced and directed by men”) such as “Confessions of a Shopaholic” or “He is not that into you” that reduce women to mindless, needy and week creatures who just want a husband and the latest pair of designer shoes. Where are on the big screen and in porn films representations of women like me and my girlfriends: successful and independent women who know exactly what they want and get it not by submitting to male fantasies of what it means to be female but by living out their own fantasies and making their own dreams come true?

We live in a visual day and age where we perceive most of our information and entertainment not through words but images. So not to know how to create images is a form of “illiteracy” and leaves women speech- and visionless. Over 50% of humankind is female – so in an ideal world at least 50% of films should be created by women reflecting the female perspective on life, love and sex.

It is therefore with great pleasure that I can confirm that the woman’s film festival “Birdseyeview” in London has invited me to take part in a panel discussion on “Sex on the screen”. The festival, celebrating female filmmakers, kicks off on the 5.3 and my panel discussion happens at the ICA on the 11.3. at 9 pm. More info on the film festival here: www.birdseyeview.co.uk

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