Playboy Philippines: The Women Behind the Camera of Erotica
Playboy Jan Feb 2010 — With a clear vision of what erotica should be, the balls to challenge norms, and unquestionable talent, women have somewhat turned the tables on the porn industry – by taking a position from behind the camera, instead of in front of it.
According to the Berlin Porn Film Festival’s website: The submissions to this year’s Porn Film Festival showed that there are more and more women creating films around female sexuality, lust or fetish.
Playboy caught up with two Chicks with Guts – Anna Brownfield and Anna Span – who were both at the recently concluded Berlin Porn Film Festival and talked to them about their role in changing an industry that was not only dominated by men but also served to satisfy only male lustful desires.
Anna Brownfield: Creator of adult films she calls “new wave erotica” a term she coined to differentiate her work from regular porn.
Film companies: Poison Apple Productions and Hungry FilmsCredentials: Graduate of Media Arts from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, with Honors Lecturer in Multi-media Design and Film TV and Art at Melbourne’s Swinburne University
Brownfield’s work has screened at numerous international festivals and conferences such as the 1995 International Women’s Conference in Beijing. Her first film feature, “The Money Shot” closed the Melbourne Underground Film Festival and won Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Male Lead.
Trademarks of her work:
Diversity of body types: Natural, “untouched by a knife” bodies preferred (and that includes boob jobs)
Natural rawness of storyline: Believable scenes where importance is placed on the chemistry between the characters and build-up to the actual sex scenes
“I’m a feminist erotic filmmaker who makes film about sex and craft!”, shouts Anna Brownfield’s Skype profile.
Explaining the “feminist” element which may otherwise appear to be misplaced in that declaration, Brownfield says:“Most porn is made for heterosexual men and from their point of view of sex and sexuality. Men, for example, are never penetrated in a porn film — they are never fucked up the ass even by a woman with a strap on. They don’t know what it is like to be penetrated. Porn out there is not made to simulate women.”
“On another note, I don’t really consider myself to be working in the adult film industry, as in Australia there isn’t really one, so I consider myself to be a feminist erotic filmmaker who happens to make films that contain explicit sex.”, adds Brownfield.
Producing, writing and directing erotica was a natural progression for Brownfield, who says: “As the majority of product is from a male perspective, I saw the potential in tapping into a growing market of making non-formulaic porn that is designed to stimulate and arouse women from a truly female perspective.”
With this as a guiding principle, Brownfield’s work aims push the boundaries and redefine the depiction of sex and nudity in cinema.
Her second feature, ‘The Band’ has screened at Cannes Film Market (France) and was the opening night film at the Berlin Porn Film Festival (German) and has sold to numerous territories around the world.
“The script for The Band came out of stories I collected while working as a “door bitch” in a local rock ‘n’ roll venue here in Melbourne, called “The Tote”. I took most of these stories and wove them into the script. Of course there is always some creative license and to protect the guilty I will never reveal which bands they are actually about!”, laughs Brownfield.
Keeping it real
Production for “The Band”, involved much the same processes as directing any other movie, says Brownfield. However, keeping to her all-natural trademark proved to be a difficulty in the casting department.
“Casting was one of the most difficult things”, relates Brownfield. “We needed actors who were prepared to do real sex scenes and who had also had acting experience. We held auditions like a normal film and got the actors to learn a piece from the film before they came and perform it for us. I wasn’t concerned about anatomical endowments but more that they could act, because once they can do that taking your clothes off is easy!”
Finding the men wasn’t as difficult finding women who were willing to be in an adult film that catered to their female fantasies.
“It was harder to find women [for the film] because I feel it is still a big taboo for women to perform sexually and be in control of their own bodies.”
Brownfield was insistent on keeping it real, even when it came right down to choosing body types. “We wanted a variety of women’s bodies to be represented rather than the homogenized, surgically enhanced bodies we see in American adult movies, so fake breasts were definitely not welcome!”
A woman’s touch
“I think it’s important when shooting erotica to create your own language and challenge the clichés of the adult film genre and focus on women’s fantasies.”, says Brownfield when asked how having a woman behind the camera shifts the paradigm that “the same old porn” has been locked into.
“I like to objectify the male body, were as most adult films objectify the female body.
I wanted to break from the usual way that adult films are shot. For instance, I focus more on the fact that a hand traveling down a body can be just as sensual and erotic. I wanted to play up the sense of mystery when you didn’t always see everything.”
“With regards to directing, one of the questions I always get asked is ‘do you get turned on while shooting sex scenes?”, Brownfield says candidly sharing the more fun part of her job.
“While shooting a scene I am watching it through a monitor and wondering if I am getting all the shots I need, how are the performances, the fact people are having sex is quite secondary to the whole experience.”, she starts to say before confessing, “However, I do remember during one scene I looked up from the monitor and one of the actors was looking directing at me while he had sex with his co-star. For a brief moment,, it hit me that there were people having sex in front of me, but after that I returned to my monitor and making sure I was getting what I needed.”
As for her male actors keeping [it] up on the set, Brownfield says has seen everything from the actors who have no trouble at all, to using medical options to “On one particular day, our stills photographer offered to be a fluffer for one of the actors!”
Porn promoting safe sex
Turning to a more serious topic, Brownfield talks about rise in sexually transmitted diseases in Australia, among 16 -25 year olds, an age group, who have grown up without thinking of AIDS as a death sentence.
“This generation thinks you should use condoms for contraception only and don’t think about it also protecting them from sexually transmitted diseases. Hence, I see one of my roles as an erotic film maker is also to educate the audience about safe sex.”
Safe sex is a mandatory element in an Anna Brownfield film. Brownfield pays attention to relating the need for safe sex in relation to the storyline.
“As most of the sex scenes in The Band are one night stands, where the characters don’t know each other’s sexual history, it was important to show condom use. Not only just during the sex scenes but also the condoms being put on, rather than just appearing.”
Some in the porn industry and even viewers would think that such consistent use of condoms in the film would make the film less marketable and appealing. But Brownfield remains adamant. “I feel that the sex scenes are so erotic that it doesn’t matter if they use condoms. Also I really don’t care as it was one thing I am not prepared to compromise on.”
To further prove her point about latex not getting in erotica’s way, Brownfield shares her own experience. “I wasn’t in a relationship when I made The Band and had decided that I would remain celibate during the film. Let’s just say after the first week of filming, I broke that promise!”
Hometown: Kent, United Kingdom
Credentials:Graduate of Fine Art (Film & Video) from Central St. Martins, London Recently completed an MA in Philosophy from Birkbeck Several years experience making professional quality porn films for Television X and The Adult Channel Accolades:
UK Best Director: UK Adult Film and TV Awards, 2008 and 2009
UK’s first female porn director
Trademark of her work:Soap opera storylines, with explicit sex scenes added to it Realistic casting Female point of view: a lot of shots are devoted to men as givers if pleasure rather than just recipients
Anna Span was originally anti-porn. She detested the fact that porn was mostly a male field where men were king and “the women were subjucated as mere pleasure objects”.
While walking down the red light district in Soho, she came to terms with this industry that she spurned and realized that she was really just jealous of the fact that an entire industry was devoted to satisfying the prurient fantasies of men. More than that, Span was angry that there was a blatant denial of women’s own sexuality. “Women have the same desires for pleasure and have just as much right as a man to satisfy her fantasies.”, Span says.
“I believe that to sexually objectify – that is to fleetingly view a person’s sexual attractiveness separately from their personality/person, is a natural human experience NOT just a male one, as has been traditionally depicted.”, Span says, elaborating.
Since then, Span changed her view on the porn industry and took on a different perspective – that of how porn is an excellent genre and how it is one of the last underdeveloped/unexplored areas left in film.
As a film student in Central St. Martin, she wrote a dissertation entitled, “Towards a new Pornography” in which she studied the probable elements of a “female perspective of porn”.
From cutting up scenes to filming her own
After graduating from film school, Span began work as a full time editor on Television X (formerly The Fantasy Channel), a series of adult television channels. Span watched several hundred porn films and programmes being the one to make the censorious legal cuts. On the side, she was also experimenting with filming her own short films.
“That’s 35 hours a week of watching porn. I was also shooting my own films during the weekend. I managed to keep my sanity, but barely.”, says Span.
This experience proved to be invaluable for Span who learned the ins and outs of legality in porn. Later, she would use her acquired expertise to define her own brand of pornography. “I learned the exact point at which a shot becomes illegal and used knowledge of these guidelines to make my softcore films as hard as the guidelines would allow.”
“I originally decided to focus on developing my skills in the softcore area where there was a definite market. But this knowledge eventually came in handy when I eventually started shooting hardcore porn as well.”, adds Span.
Span’s first commercially released programme was “Eat Me/Keep Me” was an immediate success. The story focused on the stripping experience of Nadia and Majella, who posed as two art school friends of Span’s. The film was an immediate success, and Span soon began filming sequels that eventually went to becomes an “Eat Me/Keep Me” series.
Since then, Span has become a major force in the porn. Her presence in the adult film industry goes beyond the over 250 scenes that she has filmed. Span has also started her own production outfit called Easy on the Eye productions, where she trains other female adult film makers in their craft. In her book, “Shoot Your Own Adult Movies”, Span shows couples on how to make the camera your favorite sex toy with what she promises is a “step by step guide to fulfilling your fantasies to becoming a porn star”
Despite the entire porn enterprise that she has built on her name and website annaspansdiary.com, Span remains involved when it comes to production.
“I write all the scenarios myself. In list form, no script.”, says Span, who despite the numerous titles that she now has under her belt, continues to draw inspiration from everyday things.
“I write all of the scenarios myself. They come from real life usually. For instance, if I find an amazing location, I will write a DVD about it. Sometimes I am inspired by just one person I see. I once saw a women selling fruit in a market and liked her hands so I wrote “Pound a Punnet” which is about women who work in market stalls.”
Asked about her own formula of fantasy of creating films targeted at women’s sensuality, Span pragmatically enumerates:
- Not porn looking actors and actresses
- Make it look as real as possible you have to make them looking into the corners of the room or into the camera.
- Oral sex scenes where the woman is receiving and enjoying
- Play up female fantasies with men from the service industries
And as for the male actors, how are they picked out and how important is really size to the female viewer. Men have to be endowed, but Span cites another reason for this:. “Men must have big enough cocks or you can’t get the camera angles.”
Staying power for the men and it being a hard job. “Guys either can or can’t do it. The ones that can thrive, they occasionally u se viagara, but you can’t base a career on Viagra. You eventually need to ejaculate and Viagra often delays this.”, Span rationalizes, speaking about a often asked question about making adult films.
Proving that female ejaculation exists
Proving that porn isn’t the only thing that should remain as a man’s enjoyment, Span recently won a historic victory with her DVD, ‘Women Love Porn’ which includes a woman clearly ejaculating.
Originally, the British Board of Film Classification asked for compulsory edits to remove the female ejaculation section, as they believed the woman to be urinating and argued that it was in violation of the Obscene Publications Act.
Span presented irrefutable scientific evidence in support of the model’s ability to ‘squirt,’ as it is known in the adult industry. Says Span, ‘I am really proud to have the film passed and to have made a difference to women who experience this in their own lives. It was never fair that their orgasms were dismissed as urinary incontinence’
And with the same determination that got her started in the this business, Span continues to fight for the right of women to have their own kind of porn and their own ejaculation as well.