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WIA Profile: Inka Winter

WIA Profile: Inka Winter

Each month, XBIZ spotlights the career accomplishments and outstanding contributions of Women in Adult. WIA profiles offer an intimate look at the professional lives of the industry's most influential female executives.

Award-winning erotic filmmaker and ForPlay Films founder Inka Winter knows what she wants her films to be, and what she doesn’t want them to be. She seeks to depict sexuality that is mindful, based in human connection and trauma-informed. In fact, she attributes much of her artistic trajectory to some of the darker experiences in her background.

It is all about consent and autonomy.

Winter grew up in Austria, in a famous cult known as the Friedrichshof Commune, which revolved around the artist Otto Muehl. While she has rejected both Muehl’s art and his manipulation of people, the commune did provide a creative environment where she learned nude drawing and filmmaking early on.

She also had to participate in cult-mandated sexual experiences built on the Freudian theory that vaginal orgasms were “mature” orgasms and clitoral orgasms were “immature,” so that women had to climax through penetration alone. The feminist sensibilities of Winter’s work in adult reflect her vision of reclaiming the right to pleasure and healing societal and individual trauma.

The cult dissolved when Muehl was arrested on multiple charges, and Winter began attending a boarding school on an island in a lake in Berlin, where amongst other things she learned woodworking, screen printing and welding.

After high school, she earned a bachelor’s in economics, but realized that she wanted to do something more creative, so she got a degree in fashion design and dressmaking.

Her filmmaking career began through an internship at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School in Sydney, helping her friend who was the costume designer there to create costumes for all the student films. Moving to Los Angeles, she started a clothing line and worked as a costume designer and stylist in film, TV and commercials.

What ultimately inspired Winter to pursue adult entertainment was the loss of her sex drive for about a year after an abortion. Coming out of that, she hoped porn might boost her libido — but the content she found did the opposite for her.

At the time, Lust Cinema and other female-driven studios remained so “niche” that she had not yet discovered them. So she set out to produce ethical, feminist and indie erotica by women, for women and for everyone, under her own studio, ForPlay Films.

Winter finds such an approach particularly resonant these days, as women’s bodies and sexuality continue to be controlled and legislated by misogynist forces that shame sexuality and pleasure, view it as inherently wrong and want to punish people for experiencing it.

Winter views ForPlay Films as her way of subverting that dynamic, and the effectiveness of her approach is evident in her rise as an acclaimed auteur. Her feature “Ashford Manor” recently took home honors at the 2024 XBIZ Awards: a Best Acting win for Nicole Kitt’s performance, and Best Art Direction. Now, she opens up about her unique journey and career aspirations as WIA’s Woman of the Month.

XBIZ: How has your approach to filmmaking changed over the years?

WINTER: Over the last few years, I have realized more and more that my approach to making porn is not just about rectifying how female sexuality is viewed and portrayed in our society. It is also about providing a good experience for talent and crew.

It is all about consent and autonomy. I let talent choose whom they want to film with and in terms of sex acts, I let them do what they enjoy, for however long it feels pleasurable. I want the sex they are having to feel like “at home” sex. Letting talent choose whom they want to work with not only provides them with autonomy, but also creates authentic chemistry and connection.

Another thing that is really important to me is diversity. I hope that my films speak for themselves in that regard. I think “Ashford Manor” is a good example of that.

XBIZ: How would you describe your signature style, visually and narratively?

WINTER: With my background in fashion, my visual style is cinematic and very much inspired by the fashion editorials that I used to shoot, and by all the great fashion magazines and fashion photographers. Narratively, I want to tell stories for the sake of the story and use sex as something that moves the story along, instead of making the story about the sex.

XBIZ: Discuss your process for creating a compelling script and then bringing that world and those characters to life.

WINTER: A big part of my approach to filmmaking and a huge part of my process is collaboration. I have some great friends with film and stand-up backgrounds, with whom I collaborate on the script writing. In our scripts, we try to include our feminist values so there is a message we care about, even if it’s subliminal. I am also a big fan of comedy and sarcasm. Writing “Ashford Manor” was great because as a homage to Jane Austen, the series could include all of those elements. We really leaned into being as accurate as we could for the Regency period. I hired an accent and acting coach to help make the characters more believable. Casting also plays a huge role, and then I work collaboratively with the talent to bring each character to life.

For my short films, which usually have a simpler storyline, it’s all about creating context for sex. Told from the female gaze, why is sex happening? Something as simple as a man washing dishes could be a reason for sex, because a man doing chores is great foreplay! But what women are into has a wide range, from romance to BDSM and even consensual non-consent and everything in between.

I work closely with talent to see what kind of style or scenario they are into and also what kind of non-sex-related talents we could incorporate. That’s why a film with Jada Kai includes beautiful figure skating, a film with Robby Echo is about a skater, a film with Nathan Bronson involves parkour and why David Lee brought his origami skills and created origami roses for a date with Nicole Kitt.

Another example of a great collaboration is my “Murder Mystery Dinner Party” script. It was written with the help of a well-known mainstream actor who I knew would be able to emulate the 1940s lingo. He agreed in exchange for a donation to his charity, which provides food for the unhoused.

XBIZ: Talk about your strategy for building the ForPlay Films brand.

WINTER: Just like all companies, growing traffic is the biggest part of my growth strategy. Creating the kind of content I do, it seems like the traffic strategies that work for mainstream companies are not necessarily the same for me. I rely more on press and influencers. But I am also working on an affiliate program.

XBIZ: How do you handle casting, and developing performers to be the best they can be?

WINTER: For the feature films I direct, I have talent send self-taped auditions of a couple of pages of dialogue for their character. Since “Ashford Manor,” I also have an acting coach who spends time helping them developing their character. Then we do a Zoom rehearsal/read-through to have everyone interact with each other and to see if anything needs tweaking. I think on set, it’s a lot about empowering talent in their roles and making them feel comfortable to access emotions that feed into the character and scene.

XBIZ: What was it like seeing Nicole Kitt take home a Best Lead Acting win for “Ashford Manor” at the 2024 XBIZ Awards?

WINTER: That was an amazing and exciting moment, and so rewarding to see Nicole get the recognition she deserves. After working with the accent/acting coach I hired, she paid out of her own pocket to get additional coaching. I think we can all agree that going that extra mile paid off tremendously. Her acting really deserved that win!

XBIZ: How do you hope to continue uplifting women in adult, and what are your biggest ambitions for 2024?

WINTER: I hope to continue to uplift women in adult by giving them a voice, listening to them, empowering them to feel comfortable to set boundaries and giving them creative freedom and autonomy on my sets. I have also started working as an intimacy coordinator, which is another way to empower talent, especially women, on set. My ambition is to grow the reach of my company, ForPlay Films, and to find sponsorships from other companies to do more sex-education content.

After some time working at a local nonprofit counseling center, I recently got certified as a sex educator and counselor. I believe that we need more sex education in our society and that sex education should be free for everyone. That requires resources I don’t yet have and I am hoping that other, more established companies see the value of contributing to this goal. Under the right circumstances I might also be looking for an investor.

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