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SxSW 2017 Interview: PORNOCRACY director Ovidie

by Jason Whyte

"Never before have we watched as much porn as we do today, yet the traditional porn industry is dying. The arrival of Tube sites showing amateur or pirated clips has transformed the way porn is made and consumed. Studios are closing and actresses are forced to shoot increasingly hardcore scenes for less and less money and protections. Behind this transformation lies one opaque multinational. My film reveals how a group of "geeks" with no experience in pornography have hijacked the adult industry and are slowly killing it with their business model and their controversial financial structures." Director Ovidie on PORNOCRACY which screens at the 2017 South By Southwest Conference.

So I understand you have worked in the industry before directing this film. How did you get your start?

I have taken quite a unique path. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a director, and the first opportunity that presented itself to me was porn. From the age of 19, I filmed feminist pornographic films for the French channel Canal+, at first in parallel with my studies. Throughout several years, I made over a dozen films as well as sexual education programs, all while developing myself professionally as a journalist and researcher. While being immersed in the field of pornography, I worked for various publications, publishers and radio stations, all while continuing to pursue my studies until I finished my dissertation. It wasn't until I turned 30 that I got the possibility to make my entry into the documentary world when I directed two films for the French National Channel France 2 and then finally in directing PORNOCRACY. My primary areas of interest, be they in porn, documentary film or even my academic work, is women, feminism and body politics.

With such experience, how did the documentary PORNOCRACY come about?

The idea behind this project came by accident. One day, completely by chance, I discovered that when typing my name into Google that certain pirated videos featuring me in them were on "Tube" sites, and it was impossible to get them taken off. Some of the videos were from films I performed in towards the end of the 90s, films that only had a few hundred copies made and they had now suddenly resurfaced and been seen by upwards of several million people. This had an immediate impact on my life at the time.

From that moment onwards I began to get informed, to collect information about these sites, by simple curiosity and without a precise goal. After about three or four years, what began as a small personal inquiry became an international investigation. We told ourselves that there was an unbelievable film we needed to make on the subject.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?

One day I found a folder of my primary school work. The teacher had written "detests injustice" about me on my school report. I think that this remains as my driving force, even as an adult.

What was your biggest challenge with this project, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you?

My biggest satisfaction has been receiving congratulatory messages and messages of thanks from the people appearing in the film.

It is important to me that these people who agreed to participate in the film, who have given me their time and their energy, sometimes for multiple days, and who have, for some, taken the risk of speaking on camera without their face uncovered, even with all the risks that come with doing so, are satisfied with the final result.

I would love to know about the visual design of the movie and how the movie was photographed along with your influences!

We have alternated between mostly fixed shots and immersive scenes shot by onboard camera. We have developed a habit of framing scenes with two cameras in an immersive sequence. Generally speaking, I prefer to frame the shots myself, but as I often appeared in this film, it was indispensable to find a director of photography that I could have confidence in, in that they would perfectly understand the way I usually shoot. In terms of inspiration, I really like the cold aesthetic of Scandinavian cinema, and in terms of music I am a big fan of films by John Carpenter.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?

This film highlights a set of international issues. I hope that it will begin the debate in Austin and I hope in the U.S. in general.

After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next?

PORNOCRACY has been selected to have its European premiere at CPH:DOX in Copenhagen.

If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?

I want to have it screened at the European Parliament and at the White House. And in a broader sense, in the offices of all of the politicians on Earth. My film exposes the industry, and now it is their turn to take action.

We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?

Take a camera, even an iPhone, and film as much as you can. Don't film with the goal necessarily of sharing it. Run away from the desire of creating a buzz and resist the temptation of putting everything and anything online. Just accept that you are practicing for yourself. Do not worry about the audience or even the broadcaster as film what ignites and animates us.

And finally, what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?

Without a doubt THE TREE OF LIFE by Terrence Malick. I remember leaving the showing with my mind completely blown, I wandered down the Champs Elysees, I didn't speak for many hours after. I said to myself that I could never again film a single image in my entire life, that making a film no longer had any sense after that, that everything was mediocre next to it. I felt this way for several weeks after seeing it.

Be sure to follow PORNOCRACY online on Facebook and Twitter!

We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview as part of our coverage of SxSW 2017. To see the entire series click on the Live Report sidebar on your right. We will have interviews posted all throughout the festival so be sure to visit us often for more coverage!

This is one of the many films screening at the 2017 SXSW in Austin, Texas taking place March 10-18. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

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originally posted: 03/08/17 15:09:50
last updated: 03/10/17 14:31:46
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