ON THE SET IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA — It’s a bright, blue-skied and shiny day on a two-acre hillside estate where cast, crew and director Ricky Greenwood are getting ready for a three-day shoot of the character-and-plot-driven “Becoming Elsa,” a Sweetheart Video production due out in March.
For Greenwood, the pressure is on. It’s his second title for the all-girl studio division of Mile High Media, and his sudden success that was catapulted from his cinematic debut, “Confession of a Sinful Nun,” has made many in the industry believe he is the director to watch in 2018.
After all, “Confession of a Sinful Nun” was a commercial triumph for Sweetheart Video and Mile High Media, and particularly for Greenwood. The feature-length movie, which includes a hardcore and softcore version on DVD, earned a dozen 2018 XBIZ Awards nominations.
The all-girl feature, released this past summer, followed a “nunsploitation” theme — a throwback subgenre of exploitation films that were popular in the 1970s — that offered a forbidden look at what goes on inside a convent. Offering temptation and seduction like no other, the movie had an all-star cast, including Charlotte Stokely, Lily Adams, Penny Pax and Nina Hartley, among others.
Now, after the sudden success, Greenwood is on to his second title, “Becoming Elsa,” which features Elsa Jean, India Summer, Ana Foxxx, Jade Kush, Abella Danger, Cheri DeVille and Stokely.
“I hope it will be as good as ‘Confession of a Sinful Nun’ was, and I hope people will love it,” Greenwood told XBIZ. “I cannot lie to you: I feel I have a little pressure, particularly after the enthusiastic praise and accolades for the first movie.”
On the set, Greenwood said that he’s really stoked about filming “Becoming Elsa,” and he’s particularly anxious to shoot a threesome that involves Jean, Summer and Stokely.
“I think the story, the character of Else Jean is well developed,” said Greenwood, pointing to a number of storyboards that will help guide his direction of the movie, scene by scene.
Jean, meanwhile, offered her approval with a thumbs-up while makeup was being applied to her and Foxxx before the film’s first scene.
“We are so excited about the movie after seeing these storyboards,” Jean said. “I love the script. It will be fun.”
Greenwood, a French Canadian who grew up and still lives in Montreal, studied cinema for several years and then worked for a TV production company that offered “TMZ”-like fare, as well as red-carpet coverage for several awards programs. He also directed short films at the time.
“One thing led to another, and they said, ‘we need for you to shoot an adult-themed show,’” said Greenwood, recalling his work prior to joining Mile High Media. “So, I did a couple of documentaries for them that showed the lives of entertainers outside the strip club in Quebec.”
Having worked a bit in adult filmmaking, Greenwood was introduced by a friend to Jon Blitt, Mile High Media’s vice president, who asked him if he could come and work as a production manager.
“I was conflicted about straying from mainstream,” Greenwood said. “Jon said try it, and see if you like it. I asked about his vision, and what he wanted to bring to the adult industry. I liked what he told me. And, I said, OK, I’ll give it a shot.
“So, I gave it a shot and fell in love with the biz, and met some great Mile High Media directors along the way — Dana Vespoli, James Avalon and Jackie St. James, among others.”
After joining Mile High Media and its O.L Entertainment subsidiary to help manage production for some of its imprints like Sweetheart Video, Sweet Sinner, Erotica X and Dark X, Greenwood got an important call from Blitt.
“Jon asked me if I wanted to direct something, so I pitched him the idea of ‘Confession of a Sinful Nun,’” he said. “Jon said he liked the idea, and so we created a script in December  and shot ‘Confession’ in March.”
“I was lucky ... it turned out very good,” he said. “But how can you go wrong with a cast like what was in ‘Confession’ for your first adult movie?” he asked. “I mean, come on … Nina Hartley? She’s a legend.”
Greenwood said that his style of directing adult movies is typically how he would shoot any mainstream production — by making them entertaining, thought provoking and moving along with grace.
Greenwood noted that he’s a big fan of the character-and-plot-driven blue movies of the 1970s, including “Behind the Green Door” and “The Devil in Miss Jones,” and he thinks that more porn movies should have more depth.
“Porn is a genre of filmmaking,” he said. “Like comedy, action and drama — it’s still a movie. To me it is the same thing — the cinematic look, the set design, the juxtaposition of the lens … and the attempt to build a story and to try to develop characters.
“In my view, these are the same types of things you do in mainstream filmmaking.”
Greenwood, however, must add a bit of eroticism to plots that will appeal to Sweetheart Video’s legion of fans that seek out all-girl titles.
“I tell the performers, ‘let the scene lead you to what you want,’” he said. “I tell them, ‘take your time and kiss her … kiss her neck … kiss her body, mouth.”
With filming just minutes away, Greenwood worked with his cameraman and crew to get the scene set and every minute detail in place.
“I give them a vision of what we have, the kind of look, and they make sure it can be filmed that way. We go back and forth with that,” he said.
And he makes sure that the cast is ready … including some of the practical details. After all, this is a Sweetheart Video production.
“Nails must be super short … no crazy nails,” he said. “It doesn’t work for fingering.”