Anna Span started shooting porn films after graduating from Central St Martin’s School of Art with a BA Hons in Fine Art (Film & Video) in 1998. It was there that she wrote her dissertation ‘Towards A New Pornography’ in which she analysed what a female perspective on porn would look like, porn remaining a genre that was largely underdeveloped and unexplored by female filmmakers.
In 1998 she started a full-length porn feature, which she tried to finance herself, in collaboration with Ben Westwood, son of Vivienne, on the styling. Unfortunately she didn’t know how to shoot porn, so she lost about 4,500 pounds, which kept her in painting and decorating for the next year in order to pay off the debt.
During this time several unscrupulous producers, which all ended up to be hot air, offered several projects. Eventually she got a break at Television X with her first ever commercially released programme ‘Eat Me/Keep Me’ starring the nubile Nadia and Majella posing as two art school friends of hers whom she interviewed about their stripping experiences outside of college. The show was an immediate success, leading to a complete series – others were to follow, totalling around 100 shows in just less than four years. She has since gone on to produce around 250 scenes in total.
At this time Anna was also working at the TVX offices as an editor, originally full time as well as shooting programmes at weekends. During this time she watched several hundred porn films and programmes, often having to make the censorious legal cuts that were required. She has now released several hard-core and soft core DVDs through her company Easy on the Eye Productions.
She has 6 GCSE’s, 3 A levels, 1 National Diploma in Foundation Studies in Fine art, 1 BA (Hones) Fine Art Film and Video from Central St Martins, 1 MA in Philosophy from Birkbeck; Anna is currently in her final year of a PhD in Gender Studies at Sussex University.
Previously considered careers include barrister (has GCSE Law), psychologist (has A Level Psychology), actress (has A Level Theatre Studies) painter (has a Foundation Studies in Art) singer and philosopher.
Anna enjoys the contemporary arts, film, music, philosophy, photography, travelling (in her early twenties she travelled around U.S.A, Cuba, Jamaica, Israel, Egypt, Europe, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe,) reading and music.
As a young teenager Anna was anti-porn, believing it to be an area in which men were given free reign to subjugate the woman for their own needs. This was during the late 80′s at the height of the ‘ban the top shelf’ campaign led by Clare Short in the UK. She then had a ‘moment of clarity’ walking down Old Compton Street in the red light district of Soho, London. She deconstructed her feeling of anger and found it was based on envy. She was envious of men because they had their Soho and a society, which considered men’s desires worthy enough to invest money to cater for them. What was missing was the equivalent – but very different in content/style – for women. She believed a woman should have the subconscious confidence to know that even if she doesn’t personally want to use porn, the world in which she lives recognises that she might want to and has a right to do so.
Anna is a member of Feminists Against Censorship; a campaigning group that understands that to be a woman who strongly believes in equal rights between the sexes does not necessarily mean the means of achieving this is through restricting and censorship of the rights of the individual, male or female. Censorship only proves to change the direction of the censored thoughts, not eliminate them and Anna believes that open debate is better than hidden inequality. She believes that to sexually objectify, that is to fleetingly view a person’s sexual attractiveness separately from their personality/person, is a natural human experience, not just a male one, as traditionally depicted.
- ‘Palm Phwoar – Services to the Industry’ – Shafta Awards 2013
- ‘Indie Porn Pioneer’ (2007) and ‘Best Bi-movie’ (2011) – Feminist Porn Awards (Toronto)
- ‘Best Director’ (2007 and 2008), ‘Best Soft-core Production’, ‘Best Reality Programme’, – UK Adult Film and TV Awards (2007)
- ‘Best British Film Brand’ – Erotic Trade Only (The UK adult trade magazine 2009)
- ‘Best Politician’ The Erotic Awards (2010)
- Silver in the FICEB Awards, Spain (2003)
In 2009 she launched a separate label to encourage other budding female porn directors entitled ‘Women Love Porn’ and was successful in overturning an arguably sexist ruling by the British Board of Film Classification, which banned images of female ejaculation. A previous push to allow parity of representation between the sexes in soft-core productions was also achieved by Easy on the Eye Productions. Anna was appointed as Chair of the UK trade association for the UK’s erotic industries for two years until she stood down to allow time to study her PhD in 2011.
As part of a campaign for a more female friendly pornography – believing that the female pound will make the industry more female friendly – Anna has been interviewed in almost every national newspaper and women’s magazine in the UK and others in Germany, Spain, France, Norway, South Africa, Brazil and Australia. Media appearances include every major BBC Radio channel and several BBC and commercial local channels including appearing on Woman’s Hour (twice), Newsnight, BBC World Service, The Today Programme and PM. She has appeared on all of the major terrestrial TV channels including Channels 4 & 5 who both aired two different, one-hour documentaries about her work as the face of feminist pornography. Anna wrote a weekly article about the adult industry for The Sport national newspaper for 12 months in 2008/2009.
Anna’s film work has been written about by academics and cultural theorists such as Dr Clarissa Smith, Dr Anne Sabo and CD Alexandersen; by international safe sex educators Anne Philpott and Wendy Knerr and by industry professionals such as Violet Blue, Gerrie Lim and Xavier Mendick.
Anna has been involved in several university debates on pornography in the last ten years including Cambridge University (where she beat both Gail Dines and Shelley Lubben), Glasgow University, St Andrews, University College Dublin, Edinburgh among others, she has never lost. She also beat Germaine Greer in an Intelligence Squared debate in Spring 2013. Anna has also given talks at universities and film festivals including Oxford University, University of Kent, Manchester University, University of Malmo (Sweden), Berlin Porn Film Festival, Io Isabella festival in Maratea (Italy) and others.
Anna set up WeConsent.org to campaign for a greater public understanding of members of the various erotic industries (including the adult film industry, lap dancing, sex work, sex shop workers, adult TV workers). The site offers a source of information for researchers, journalists, policy makers, industry members and the public to speak to erotic workers directly and to read academic articles about the issues that faces the workers in these industries. As part of this site there are frequent news updates of the news stories affecting the erotic industries, worldwide. Although it was launched in Spring 2012 the site is a work in progress. When completed the site will host the majority of relevant research articles on the industries – both supportive and unsupportive – the aim being to provide a resource for interested parties to debate the relevant issues in a more nuanced and complex way than is currently available.
Anna is a liberal and open-minded individual who politically supports The Liberal Democrats, for all their sins. In 2010 she became the first member of the adult industry to run for parliament campaigning on issues of equality, especially the rights of women and young people. She spearheaded a successful press campaign, which included coverage in every major newspaper, including The Times where she appeared on the front page and was interviewed at length about her feminist beliefs. Although Anna did not win the marginal Conservative/Labour seat she did increase the number of votes in the area for the party by 30% on the previous election’s results.
In 2003 Anna wrote and photographed ‘Erotic Home Video’ (now known as ‘Shoot Your Own Adult Home Movies’, a manual for non-professionals to learn how to make adult movies at home. To date it has sold over 22,000 copies.
Anna had a chapter accepted in ‘Pornographic Art & The Aesthetics of Pornography’ commissioned by Palgrave Macmillan called ‘My Pornographic Development’ on how she developed her creative style. This is due to be released Winter 2013.