For the past 15 years, director Michelle Flynn has worked hard to emerge as a Hall of Fame-level and globally-honored Australian pornographer. Flynn's roots are with iconic Aussie porn site AbbyWinters.com. However, for nearly the past decade, she's been at the forefront of Australia's progressive porn boom at Lightsouthern, known for "producing beautiful fresh adult content free of bias and comfortable in its own skin." Among those most American porn fanatics would likely be aware, Australian-born superstar Angela White counts the film house as one of her absolute favorites in the world. If intrigued by such an impressive co-sign, Flynn's creative motivations are equally as impressive. Here is her story.
Marcus K. Dowling:What gave you the inspiration to merge what are your clear interests in filmmaking with what appears to be your desire to present sex and sensuality as commonplace desires?
Michelle Flynn: Most of our sex scenes in the Momentum series are super simple. One of the first things I learned when I began producing porn was to draw out the tension. At that point I hadn't honed my filmmaking skills, so the ideas around creating tension came first. I wanted to try and use the tension and drama to make the not so interesting 'girl has wank on bed' portrayal in our own way. Using those filmmaking practices that I later learned to bring that into a tense and creative scene. Nuances are sexy. Not showing everything too quickly (and if you're really clever not at all) is hot.
MKD:You do very well in merging mainstream cinematic images and tropes into your shoots. Is that intentional, and if so, what do you hope to achieve in doing that? Is it the idea that familiarity breeds calm, or do you have a higher goal?
MF: Thanks! It is intentional, in the beginning, I watched movies and tried to understand how it is cut and what works well with what shot. The way I shoot is the way I have the idea of the edit in my head. The first a challenge (vol.1) was to see how close to a 'real film' I could get it looking, this became aligned with a "Lightsouthern" style and I liked the way it so I kept going. There was no other higher goal, I just wanted to try and make stuff that looked sexy even if there was no hot babe in the frame. As far as branding for the company was concerned, I knew that I wanted people to be able to identify a Lightsouthern film by just one frame.
MKD: From a social and governmental perspective, Australian attitudes towards sex and sexuality largely differ from those held by both conservative, and I'd wager many liberal, Americans. Does having a strong social construct that appreciates this behavior make creating porn easier? Or, how do you deal with how your porn mirrors or engages with Australian society?
MF: The idea that we are less conservative does not make the creation easier in terms of law and logistics at all. Technically the production of adult video is outlawed in Australia so we still do have our conservative past biting at our heels. I also had a pretty conservative upbringing. So what you see in the films, isn't reflective of my experience. It's more an idyllic Australian fantasy. Imagine if...and then we messed with that even more by later in the series adding the darker themes and tones. The film Wake in Fright for example (which we loosely parody in Momentum Vol. 4) is about the dark toxic male culture that Australia still battles with.
MKD:You've had significant global success with your work. Have you felt the need to expand the reach and inspiration of your work because of now having a global audience? If so, how? If not, what is the importance of retaining an "Australian voice" in what you're attempting to accomplish?
MF: You know I think porn consumers really have and are always craving something different. What we deliver in our films is effectively something you will never see anywhere else, by way of how we put it together, market it, and write storylines/themes. So the fact that a lot of it is Aussie-centric is secondary to it just being weird and unique. I can't imagine now given the success of the Momentum films trying to keep recreating versions of that. To me, we did it and knocked it out of the park. I do want to see Lightsouthern move into more of an international company and brand as we really have achieved all we can, given the industry (or lack thereof) in Australia. As you said our success comes from overseas. It would be great to cross the water and emulate our style in say the America's south, or Basque country Spain. An Australian voice is less important than having a reputable, successful company with a kick-ass style.
MKD:Moreover, what does "having an Australian voice" mean to you? As Australia starts to have a raised profile in the corporate and independent porn marketplaces, how do you hope to intend to see the "Australian voice" encompass more of the zeitgeist-defining conversation (which I think is possible)?
MF: We have had an industry down here for only about 20 years. Abbywinters.com aside, hobbyist/feminist porn producers/ filmmakers were really the start of global attention with film festival selections and that indie movement, they started to put Australia on the map but not in a mainstream sense. Lightsouthern managed to do both, we had success with our indy counterparts as well as mainstream DVD distribution, channels, and award nominations. We managed to have our films cross genres which absolutely attributed to our success. I always had the idea that the strength that the Aussie industry/ voice had was that we were small enough to create something collectively awesome as professionals and lead by example by self-governing and creating a safe and supportive industry. We have no industry bodies here, looking out for performers or producers so Lightsouthern created policy and system documents widely available for everyone on how we do it. That time has come to end due to the proliferation of amateur porn/ content traders and clips site performers has meant that the professional porn industry in Australia in the minority and therefore any push or ability to try and create a safe and more professional industry that looks out for the well being of performers is no longer viable.
MKD:What are the stereotypes of Australians that you hope to destigmatize, and what are the ones you think are the ones that the mainstream could potentially latch onto in the greatest manner? It's a hard thought, but ultimately, with how markets and capitalism works, entirely necessary...
MF: I think what Australia did was provide an alternative to mainstream porn by Abbywinters.com. While they proved the amateur porn as a popular genre AND were Australian, given the success and popularity of the site, Australian porn became synonymous with 'hairy girl next door'. Lots of performers down here do understand playing into those niches can be monetarily beneficial and I guess the advantage of clip sites is that you can create your own
I don't give much thought to destigmatization or trying to smash stigma, honestly, I have looked at the stereotypes of Australians and exploited that. One of our core values is to make porn for entertainment's sake and only that - not to make a political point or otherwise, though if it does by accident that's cool too.
Marcus K. Dowling is a kink-friendly journalist, broadcaster, and entrepreneur. In the past ten years, Marcus has written for VICE, Pitchfork, Complex, Red Bull, Bandcamp, Mixmag, ESPN's Undefeated, and more.
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