Michael Ninn does not live the porn lifestyle nor does he live in LA. He has, however, had a distinct impression on the way porn is made and viewed for the 20 years. Ninn is a rarity in porn in that he was never a porn performer before deciding to capture sex on film from behind the camera. Always paying close attention to detail, Ninn has never lost his vision for what is sexy and what turns the viewers on. In the interview with XRentDVD's Big D, Ninn discusses how he got into directing, why he consideres himself a filmmaker first and a pornographer second and expanding his studio, Ninn Worx, to include other directors. Big D: Describe your approach to making adult films for those that might not have seen any of your work or might be unfamiliar with Michael Ninn?
Michael Ninn: I guess the beauty of the girl comes first. The beauty of the girl, good lighting, mainstream values to the project, hot sex and more beautiful girls.
Big D: How does that separate your stuff from other directors? Taking a look at some of your box covers it looks like you have taken some influence from Andrew Blake but with a little harder edge. Is that true and what other directors have you taken inspirations from?
Michael Ninn: Andrew and I started in the business about the same time. I went towards more features back in the day but no, I look on what's on the cover of Vogue or other magazines and we try to emulate that. If you are looking for an influence, that would be the influence. What is happen in the mainstream and how do we make the women look as mainstream as possible. You look at websites that do really, really well and Cindy Margolis gets a lot more downloads than any other porn star than maybe even someone like Jenna Jameson. Big D: Do you think the consumers out there respond to that style that it doesn't need to be that hard or pushing the limits and going ultra-extreme?
Michael Ninn: I've been doing this for 15 years. 70 AVN awards later and I am still making pictures. So you tell me? I don't live in this life. I don't live in Los Angeles. I don't live in the porn community. I've never been to an AVN show. You are one of maybe five or six interviews I have done in 15 years. I am not part of this. I just do what I do. Hopefully I have an audience out there. When I have to stop doing what I want to do, then I won't do this anymore.
Big D: Since you are not big into the porn lifestyle and you do not live in LA, how did you decide that making and directing adult films was what you wanted to do?
Michael Ninn: I come from an advertising background. As a young man, 18, 19, 20 years old was in advertising. I went through a bad divorce. A buddy of mine was living in Los Angeles. I was living in New York. During the divorce he suggested I come out to LA. I did and realized I could make a whole lot more money in adult than I could in any other medium. I had done probably 180 or so music videos at that time. There was no committee in making adult. You could be as wacky as you wanted to be and I kind of liked that. Big D: I see that you did a lot of your earlier work for VCA and Western Visual before creating Ninn Worx. How did you get your foot in the door in adult from doing advertising and music videos?
Michael Ninn: Like I said, I got a job with a friend of mine who was out in LA and we were doing Sheraton and Miller and Budweiser advertisements. In the evenings all the editing bays turned into porno editing bays. I come from a news background also and I was a very fast editor. I could cut an adult film together back in the day in a matter of a few days. I could make really great money and no one bugged me. I was a little shell shocked from my divorce and the adult business and I kind of dug it. I wasn't really familiar with porn but then I started seeing it and decided I could do this better than the directors were doing it.
Big D: What did you see at that time as a young kid from the directors that you believed you could do better?
Michael Ninn: I thought the acting was for the most part just terrible. I thought maybe we could do this better with a VO and put a texture in the film rather than really bad lighting. We could approach it just differently. Big D: Since doing one of your earlier films like Latex, what have you seen change in the adult film industry since the early 1990's?
Michael Ninn: If you look at my work, I have always adapted myself to whatever the business was doing. If you look at my early stuff and then you look at Neopornographia which is pure circus performance. I've never had sex like that like they do in Neo. I don't know anyone that has sex like that. When was the last time you had a double anal?
Big D: Me? Yeah, not recently.
Michael Ninn: Yeah, me neither. The business has changed to then point where it has become more fantastic. It's carnival. The only difference is we don't have someone out there barking outside of a tent calling people in. It's pure circus act. Ninn Worx had to reinvent ourselves to bring that in and also strong art direction.
Big D: How did you come to create Ninn Worx and to eventually be your own boss? Michael Ninn: That was a slow burn that took time. Going through the motions with VCA and Private for a year and also putting money aside to make it happen. It's a more creative freedom. Ninn Worx. was part of another company and now we can fund purely Ninn Worx.
Big D: Are there some inherent challenges in that you are able to be the sole decision maker but at the same time you have to come up with the funding and the marketing all on your own?
Michael Ninn: If this was 15 years ago and I was started I would say yes. After 15 years in the business, 70 or so AVN awards and six best pictures, no, not right now. This is the time for this.
Big D: When you are in the early stages of making a film do you focus on trying to win awards and making people's jaws drop or do you focus on the fact that it is still porn and you want to portray the sexuality of the movie?
Michael Ninn: I think I am a filmmaker first and a pornographer second. I make films that just have sex in them. I may taste something and say, 'I like the flavor of that. I want to try to interpret that into a picture.' I may touch something or I may see something like a burlap bag or a stained concrete wall and ask myself how I can interpret that into my own films. Big D: Tell me about the 'Oh' series? How did you come up with the concept and what is it all about?
Michael Ninn: The 'Oh' series is a reflection of our business. It is where our business is going. It is our interpretation of gonzo. It's just really well lit gonzo. I think a guy would rather be with woman that is beautiful and as flawless as possible, the majority of men, and that is what we try to do. We try to light them well and try to make the women as beautiful as possible but not turn down the heat of the sex at all. So the 'Oh' series is Neo, Nympho and Ghetto. They are three diverse types of shows. Neo is carnival and Nympho is pushing the hottest girls even farther than they have been before. Ghetto is our latest we have just shot is our interracial line along the same lines.
Big D: You mentioned 'Oh' is your form of gonzo. Seems like companies like Red Light District, Smash, Digital Sin that have found the magic formula of tease, oral, oral, three or four positions and then a facial. What is your take on the whole gonzo revolution that seems to have become a major fixture on the adult film landscape? Michael Ninn: There is a big audience out there and everybody fills the niche that they need to fill. We've been successful and I believe we will continue to be successful with what we do. Red Light, Anabolic, Zero Tolerance also fills the a niche. You have all kinds of people watching this stuff. You've got the guy that his wife just ran to the market and he has five minutes alone and he wants to get a nut off and he does. You've got some of the people that watch my stuff that want to hang out and sit with their old lady and watch a show. It's totally depends. One thing that I don't like in our business is milk toast. I don't like the crap that is a one hit wonder with bad acting. I would rather see Zero Tolerance, and Red Light or Anabolic than I would some of the other companies that I won't name. I think you know who they are. I don't like these features that are completely worthless and forgettable and take forever getting the end user to where they need to be. We don't follow the formula either. We don't follow the formula for that or the formula for the hardcore gonzo companies. We have created a brand with our own product and built our own audience and we go from there.
Big D: Your big movie release, Catherine cast Audrey Hollander in the starring role. Do you think that role and that film had a major influence on her winning AVN Female Performer of the Year? Michael Ninn: I don't know. I am so far from the AVN awards. Even though I have won a lot of them I have never been to a show in 15 years. I am not sure. We presented her in a different way. We gave her a lot of visibility. I couldn't tell you. I don't know any of the reviewers personally, or very few of the reviewers over at AVN. I have always been one to be judged by my work so I have not kept a very close relationship with even Paul Fishbein (AVN President) or any of those other people. I have never had lunch or dinner with Paul unlike other major players in our business. I've felt that keeping a distance from them is a better thing to do.
Big D: There are no plans in the works to do a sequel to Catherine but if you did decided to make a number two, would you consider using someone else in that role if Audrey was not available?
Michael Ninn: Did you see her? Justine Joli was the body double for her. Audrey just came alive in that costume. You put the white make-up on and her back straightened, her whole demeanor became that character. That was an experiment in texture and in feel and even the sex was an experiment for us. Could we do a feature that had double anal that was as filthy as you could possibly be but in the same sense be incredibly beautiful? I said a lot of times that my stuff has form over substance. A beautiful picture is still a beautiful picture. Big D: What's on the horizon for Michael Ninn and Ninn Worx?
Michael Ninn: I think we are still going to play with the old series. Continue to do the stuff that has done really, really well for us. We like playing in that series. We are talking to another director that does the squirting lines. I think that series is going to be called Wet Room. We are going to take the same approach as we did for Neo and do the squirting line but do it really cool. We'll have Plexiglas floors where we can see it really well and light it really well. We'll film it in really high speed. Kind of like the bullet hitting the apple on really high speed film. We can see everything. We can see every squirt, every drop, and every element. We are just going to take that and push it a little farther. We've got a couple of films this year. A big video project and a big film project. It a little too early to talk about either one of them because they are not fully cast yet. Also, we are doing a project with this girl that has done a lot of internet stuff. Tall Goddess. She is this 6'2", German model that is incredibly, incredibly beautiful. She has not done a lot of adult. She did one show with Andrew Blake and she is coming on board with us as a director. I think what you'll see this year is a lot along the lines as to what Red Light is doing as far as developing young talent too. Her line will be called Clique.