“Reverse the Imagery That We Normally Are Presented Within Adult Film”: DP Sophie Winqvist Loggins on Pleasure
Ninja Thyberg’s Pleasure is an unforgiving exploration of the adult entertainment industry in Los Angeles. After arriving to California from Sweden, young Bella Cherry (Sofia Kappel) has many expectations of what working in porn will be like. Pleasure pulls no punches in showing just how brutal of a world it can be. DP Sophie Winqvist Loggins discusses the importance of color in the movie, whether it be in lighting or how natural Bella’s skin looks.
Filmmaker: How and why did you wind up being the cinematographer of your film? What were the factors and attributes that led to your being hired for this job?
Loggins: I started working with the director Ninja Thyberg eight years ago, we have done a couple of shorts together and the pilot for Pleasure.
Filmmaker: What were your artistic goals on this film, and how did you realize them? How did you want your cinematography to enhance the film’s storytelling and treatment of its characters?
Loggins: We wanted to reverse the imagery that we normally are presented within adult film. What interested us was our heroine’s point of view. In the pilot we did tests of camera angles in different sexual positions. What is the normal depiction and what would hers look like? What does it look like from in front of the camera? We searched for images that we had not seen before and that were clearly from her perspective. We looked for the storytelling boundary where you go from being looked at to looking back.
We fought to make all scenes based around our heroine as a subject and insist on the emotion of having a female body. We were interested in the mechanisms of manifesting yourself as a performer and seeing yourself in different lights. We used camera angles, compositions, lighting, color and image dynamics to realize them.
Filmmaker: Were there any specific influences on your cinematography, whether they be other films, or visual art, of photography, or something else?
Loggins: We looked at adult films and Ninja’s research photography from the industry in Los Angeles. In our previous collaborations we have studied commercials, music videos and their representations of the ideas in our society. We have broken them down and played with them to show the world from a girl’s perspective. We have studied genre films and how they normally represent power and who is looking and how. We have played with conventions in the opposite way of how they normally function. We used this tool set to make the story evolve from her as a subject.
Ninja’s research photography within the industry set the tone of what the world looked like, the colors, the details. The world was to be authentic and have an appealing palette that our main character would want to see.
I believe that we are both planted in a Scandinavian palette of color and light. Sweden is a very distant country and I think there’s a specific unheated way of looking at things where the viewer gets space to interpret in their own way.
The style of the film is an authentic world inside a heightened world. The acting is extremely real and shot almost like a documentary, but the image can be enhanced. This creates a hybrid with the real and the symbolic at the same time. We wanted the porn industry to function as a metaphor.
Filmmaker: What were the biggest challenges posed by production to those goals?
Loggins: I was flown into the project last minute. It was challenging to lack prep but also liberating in a weird way to be free from any darlings. I focused on my director and put attention into making the set have a good communication and energy. I made efforts to be the oil in the engine to make things smooth around Ninja, the actors and the story.
Filmmaker: What camera did you shoot on? Why did you choose the camera that you did? What lenses did you use?
Loggins: ALEXA Mini and Cooke s4. They were chosen for texture and authenticity of the skin. The look needed to be soft but real and unreal.
Filmmaker: Describe your approach to lighting.
Loggins: I was lucky to have a great gaffer and grip who helped me to light authentic adult sets. There’s a lot of kinos and soft bright light in adult films. We used this to play with a divine light that helps the viewer connect to our cultural split of Madonna versus the “unholy woman.” Lighting and cables also worked as props which was a fun benefit.
Filmmaker: What was the most difficult scene to realize and why? And how did you do it?
Loggins: The pajama party scene. This was my first day and it was an intense big scene with technicians that I had not met before. I did it by putting a smile on and focusing on my director and the story. Then there were other scenes that were emotionally challenging for the actors and for me standing in the energy. There I focused on being present, open and a calm anchor for our main actress.
Filmmaker: Finally, describe the finishing of the film. How much of your look was “baked in” versus realized in the DI?
Loggins: Most of it is baked in. I exposed according to my feeling of the scene and we had a LUT that followed to offline and grade. It has the cooler colors, the naturalness in the skin tones with pinks, reds and no pastiness. In the DI of course we had to balance and walk on the ridge but mainly everything is there in the offline.
Film Title: Pleasure
Camera: Arri ALEXA Mini
Lenses: Cooke s4
Lighting: A lot of kinos on the adult sets
Color Grading: DaVinci Resolve 16