When I visited the set of Petra’s latest shoot (the hot genderfuck scene that has been selected to premiere at the Berlin Pornfilmfest in October – check out the report from the day if you haven’t already! One of the things that struck me was her attention to the sexy little details.
During the pre-sex shots, when Petra was building atmosphere and showing the chemistry between the two characters, she paid a lot of attention to things I would otherwise have missed. For instance, a shot of Bishop Black getting ready, with creamy white pearls rippling down his gorgeous dark skin – there were a few retakes of this moment to get the detail exactly right. I wondered why Petra shot so many retakes of this shot and she explained: “This is not just a shot of someone putting on a pearl necklace but a super close up shot showing Bishop’s skin being caressed by the pearls rippling across his collarbone at just the right speed and shape to make it a sensual shot that builds anticipation for my audience. These kind of non explicit yet highly erotic shots have become a hallmark of my films that like to appeal to that big sex organ between our ears…”
I have been an independent filmmaker all my working life and have produced and directed erotic films over a decade now. Looking back, I feel that I have a wealth of experiences – most of them good, some bad – but all worthwhile as they taught me lessons and made me the person and filmmaker I am today.
I think it is wonderful that more and more (female) independent erotic film directors are emerging all the time, adding their voice and visions to the multi-faceted genre that porn is evolving into right now.
Maybe some of you would find it useful if I shared with you my top ten tips on how I produce my films and found my way as an independent director.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like being behind the scenes on a porn set? Well, join Girl on the Net as she visits the shoot of Petra’s latest queer genderfuck porn scene. But Petra doesn’t do things like many other porn directors: this is a porn set like no other…
I just received my proof copy of the German magazine “Der Spiegel” which ran their cover story on female sexuality. The article is based on a brand-new study of female sexuality as well as expert interviews (and I am proud I was one of them).
The study by the Institute of Sexuality at the University of Hamburg, questioning 2100 students, has unearthed lots of exciting and encouraging facts:
In 1996 only 11% of German women apparently used a vibrator or dildo, now it is 38% of women who pleasure themselves with a toy. It is not just toys that can be a huge turn on however: my thesis has always been that women are voyeurs too and can get turned on by porn, especially porn that features female fantasies and focuses on female pleasure. The statistics show that indeed more and more women enjoy porn and are not ashamed to admit this:
23% of women had watched porn in the last 4 weeks and 44% of couples now watch porn together. In 1996 only 29% of couples enjoyed porn together.
Believe it or not, there are still members’ clubs that are reserved for men only. It is not just a lot of golf clubs… until a few years ago the porn industry was also an almost exclusively men-only affair, at least behind the camera.
When I tried to get my first-ever erotic film “Sexual Sushi” into the shops 10 years ago, I hit a wall of male resistance. I went to Europe’s biggest adult trade show, the Venus in Berlin, with my Palm Pilot in my pocket and every single business meeting I had was with a smug guy in a suit laughing at my concept of “art-core” porn. They did not get it: a porn film without major porn stars or money shots? An alternative porn that featured abstract, arty scenes as well as plenty of authentic sex between a couple that were clearly very much in love and blissfully unaware of the camera? They looked at me as if I was an alien before their eyes wandered off to the topless waitress serving us or one of the many live sex shows that surrounded us. I walked away empty-handed – no production or distribution deal. No further interest. They ticked me off as a curiosity.
This is my first blog post in a while, and for a good reason! I have been busy, busy, busy, working on my new film. It’s been crazy – casting, organising, planning, location hunting and shopping for outfits and props for months before the filming even got underway. I often get asked why I don’t bring films out more often, and I think this sums it up: I am one woman and do pretty much everything myself. From buying props to booking a performers flights, and then shooting, directing and editing – I am personally involved every step of the way. I am a perfectionist and take my time to make every one of my films as authentic, creative, exciting and unique as I can.
Female perspectives on porn are varied and inspirational. I am aware that my own perspective on porn is just one of many, and I enjoy bringing other new perspectives to my audience. It is not all about me but about us. Why should I shoot movie after movie when many talented women have shot exciting porn that has not been published yet or is not distributed in Europe? (more…)
After the success of the first Petra Joy Awards in 2009, it took me some time to run this short film competition for new female erotic filmmakers again. I lost my previous sponsor and was not able to find another one. Various companies offered to donate some goods in exchange for their branding plastered all over the awards, but no one was willing to donate the prize money.
Because this award is so important to me I did not want to give up. So I decided to put my money where my mouth is and to save up the prize money for the winning films of the new competition over a couple of years. I remembered how in 2004 my life changed completely when Emma, a woman I met on an erotic photo shoot commission, decided to pay for the postproduction of Sexual Sushi so it could finally be released. Without Emma’s help maybe Sexual Sushi would have never been published and I might not have had the guts or finance to ever shoot another erotic film. Emma’s direct action of investing some money into me changed my life forever. I will be eternally grateful to her and felt the wish to give to other women what she gave to me. Now I want to inspire other women to make their dreams come true, express their fantasies and believe in themselves.
The results of this short film competition under the topic of “Female Fantasies” are fantastic: No subject is taboo. Yes, some women enjoy paying a man for sex! Yes, some women enjoy being dominated in a consensual SM scenario! Yes, many women would love to hang out in the dark room of a gay club to watch the men get it on. Yes, most of us like to be licked by a lover with a skilled tongue (illustrated beautifully in the animation Naked Love by Sara Koppel). Our sexuality is as multi-coloured as a rainbow.
The positive reactions I got from the winners of this year’s awards have been overwhelming. All of the women felt honoured to win and it meant the world to them to have their work recognised and to be encouraged to continue their creative journey.
Morgana, who won the first prize for her gutsy autobiographic film “Duty Bound” in which she shows us how she left a loveless marriage behind and made her fantasies come true, wrote to me:
“When I first read your website and PJ Awards site, I had this immediate sense, that you were my kindred spirit, urging me to unshackle my past and giving me permission to release this voice within me, that has been just below the surface my entire life, screaming to be heard. Duty Bound was conceived. Winning the PJ Award and the most incredible response to the film has left me in surreal state. With this win, I hope to meet other like-minded, non-judgmental people that believe and positively engage with and promote women and their sexuality.”
To receive an email like that touches me deeply. How wonderful that my short film competition was the catalyst for Morgana to shoot her film. Even better that the first prize has encouraged her to shoot more films in the future. This makes me happy. Much happier than if I had spent the money I had saved up on myself rather than donated it as prize money for the awards. Sometimes to give really means to receive!
Morgana closed her mail to me with the following lines:
“I can feel myself wanting to get up and dance, as I hear, Annie Lennox & Aretha Franklin sing:
Sisters are doing it for themselves,
Standing on their own two feet,
And ringing on their own bells…”
I am singing along to this – ever since the eighties this is one of the sisterhood anthems I love because it celebrates female independence as well as friendships between women. And it feels like through this year’s award new friendships and creative partnerships are blossoming.
It was a pleasure to see that two of the winning films, Corpuscle (by: Exotica Loom) and Taken (by: Gala Vanting and Aven Frey who have now set up sensatefilms.com) were created by two women working together as a team. Sisters are not just doing it, but doing it together… More and more creative partnerships in expressing female sexuality on film are formed all over the world and I think this is wonderful. We prove the sexist stereotypes about female competitiveness wrong.
Another trend in female erotic filmmaking seems to be that indeed it is hot hot hot down under: This year’s first prize, Duty Bound, as well as the runner up Taken, have been produced in Australia. The legal restrictions on producing and distributing porn in Australia seem to have the opposite effect of what the government intended: female-made porn seems to be thriving right now. There is an ever-growing community who shoot porn and especially Melbourne seems a hotspot for alternative erotica. Oz is of course the country that brought us great VOD sites like beautiful agony and many women who previously performed on these sites have now taken the camera into their own hands to shoot films about sex.
Already the winning filmmakers are hooking up, planning to shoot new films together and you never know, I might be on my way to sunny Melbourne next year too to co-operate with Gala, Aven and Morgana. How wonderful that we are connected across continents and generations. Together we grow. Together we can change the world. Word by word. Image by image.
You can read more about the filmmakers and see clips from the awarded films here.
Wishing you all a happy, exciting, erotic and exotic new year. I am much better now and after a two week break in the winter sun (starting this weekend) I will commence with the post-production of “The Female Voyeur” at last.
I would like to to thank you for all your support during what was a challenging time.
I am sitting in the late September sun in my garden and have a big smile on my face. I did it. I can’t believe I actually did it – the shoot to my fourth erotic feature “The female voyeur” is finally over and behind me. Only now – ten days after the shoot – am I beginning the feel alive and happy again.
The shoot was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Harder than moving to London 20 years ago with only £50 in my pocket, harder than producing and directing a three part series for prime-time TV, harder than shooting Sushi, Fantasies and Feeling it. Harder than anything. And there were times, many times before the shoot where I was so close to pulling the plug because things were falling apart all around me, over and over again. (more…)