Taken was the first of three films produced by Sensate Films in response to the prompt for this year’s Petra Joy Awards Short Film Competition, the theme for which was ‘female fantasy’. We asked three women whose erotic expressions we deeply admire to each compose a short piece of writing about an erotic theme current for them at the time. This fairly open point of departure led to the creation of three very unique sets of imagery and text and three unique processes of filmmaking. Taken by Viva explores an abduction fantasy in a raw, honest, and incredibly empowered way.
Directed by Viva, Aven Frey
Cinematograpy by Aven Frey, Gala Vanting
Editing by Aven Frey
Music by Eff Pan
Sound editing by James Paul
Synopsis: Take her, go ahead. She wants to be taken, again and again, in this most systematic fashion. An abduction fantasy explored by the abductee, a woman with a depth of imagination and a texturality of text who speaks her desires to have her desires withheld.
Sensate Films produce premium-quality erotic media for web, screen, and print. Our work values process over product, aesthetic reverence for diverse forms of human intimacy, and hybridized modes of storytelling – blending fantasy with documentary, the self-conscious with the un-conscious, and the many shapes of the ‘real’.
Informed by our political, philosophical, and professional experiences, particularly in the adult industry, we have cultivated a production ethic we call SLOW PORN (see below).
The hallmarks of our productions are:
- reverence for the art of erotic filmmaking through the creation of imagery that is as cinematically and artistically moving as it is prurient
- an interest in finding and representing sensuality in both the fantastical and the commonplace
- a sex-positive approach that opens itself to the diverse expressions of bodies we encounter
- the involvement of the people who appear in our work in the processes of its production. We see our contributors as collaborators and our work is the product of that co-creation.
We shoot and edit in various styles, but no matter what devices we employ as filmmakers, our material is necessarily somewhat documentary. The beauty of what we capture is the organic unfolding of an erotic engagement. It’s impossible to script, and so we don’t try. Instead we focus on creating an environment in which that expression can thrive.
The mass-production mentality of the adult industry draws producers into its ‘more, faster!’ mindset and mode of production. This often sacrifices both the quality of the product and the experience of its creation. Our response to this is to slow down. This gives us the time and presence to pay attention to those details that the mainstream so often misses; the quality of a breath, the words in a whisper. It gives our contributors the time to make choices about their representation, and also to take their time, to indulge themselves, to respond to the process of being documented. We are holding ourselves to the standards of other ‘slow’ movements and focussing on the wider impact of our work on our contributors, our audience, and ourselves. We value sustainability of energies and ethics in what we create. In so doing, we hope to generate change in the way that erotic imagery is experienced.
We are interested in creating ‘porn that does more than one thing’. We believe that as a form of cultural production with such an expansive reach, erotic media have great potential to reflect and question our values, to educate us, to speak truths personal and political, and to expand our capacity for emotion – including but absolutely not limited to desire.
We turn to both form and content to uphold this ethic. Our films frequently blend genre and defy easy classification. Many are not ‘explicit’ in the traditional sense of the word, yet they reveal more about human desire and vulnerability than many more categorically ‘XXX’ films can endeavour to. They also allow our audiences to look beyond mainstream pornographic tropes for the eroticism of an experience.
Our work is what we call ‘process-based’, meaning that we prioritize process over product. Inevitably, though, we have found that process to be reflected in the product, and that time and care spent on the former advances the quality of the latter. We are also performer-driven, more often than not following the performer’s initiative in the creation of a film’s content. This cultivates collaboration, and as a result (and where relevant) our cast are often also credited as co-directors or co-producers in our films.
Ultimately we have chosen to reject the imperatives of commercial porn production to follow formulas or nestle into niches. This of course presents challenges to our ability to distrubute our work, which for us indicates the need for change in the ways in which erotic media are consumed. As we continue to work toward this change, we welcome your support.