A Pint With… Anna Smith

September 9, 2016 / Features

By Alex Reeves

Geeking out over some craft ales with Iconoclast London’s EP / MD.

Finally venturing out of my familiar square mile of Soho, Anna Smith and I met at The Fox on Kingsland Road, craft beer specialists just a short hop and skip from where Iconoclast’s new offices will soon be. It’s a favourite of hers as she’s a bit of a hophead. We started with a couple of pints of Gamma Ray – a jazzy American pale ale from the Tottenham’s Beavertown brewery. It got the conversation trickling along nicely before we anxiously checked our emails and moved onto a pair of Duets, another pale ale by Bristolians Left Handed Giant, celebrating my southpaw identity.

…It’s essential to know the best local spots to eat and drink. We’re moving to new offices in Dalston soon, so that’s an excuse for me to visit every restaurant, coffee shop and pub on this stretch of Kingsland Road. You’ve got to know where’s good to take people for meetings.”

…I’ve wanted to work in production since I was five. One of my first memories is watching someone winning an Oscar and realising ‘I want to do that.’ I would love for my next feature to win an Academy Award. I have worked with some really inspiring people who have won academy awards including Steve McQueen so I take much of my inspiration from them!

…Having friends all over makes the world feel so small. I’ve been blessed with a life that meant I had to adapt at every turn. I grew up in Hong Kong and when I went to school in England I always went back for the holidays. Later I lived in Malaysia, the Bahamas, New York and I’ve been able to shoot just about everywhere else.”

…British advertising has always excited me. Growing up in Hong Kong and then coming to England, I would watch advertising with my siblings and be blown away. The depth of story, the visuals, the jingles… It changed our world. They were like mini films to us because we didn’t have anything like that on Hong Kong TV.”

…New York is magical. I lived in the Lower East Side in 2008. I was producing for Psyop. I worked hard and played hard for about six months. L.E.S. Artistes by Santigold was the soundtrack to my life. The city represented everything I’d missed about Hong Kong – the vibrancy, living on top of each other, the cosmopolitan attitude. I felt so at home.”

…Horror is my all-consuming passion. I think it’s better to express darkness through other people’s eyes than do it yourself! The fact that someone can dream up something so horrible makes you feel so much better about yourself.”

…It’s a gateway genre for filmmakers. It shows that you can do tension, drama, comedy. It’s a really expressive genre for talent in every department there is in filmmaking – from make up to art department, performance to stunts. You have to push yourself both narratively and on set for it to be considered believable, tangible and seamless.”

…I work with a lot of geeks and I like to celebrate that. You should be proud of your passions, no matter how weird they are. I admit to people I’ve been to X-Files conventions. That’s who I am. A lot of people might be worried about being cool, but I think it’s really important for people to express their inner passions. I am only who I am really because of my severe nerdy-ness!”

…Production needs to go green. We joined AdGreen a while ago and we’re trying to engage with it, but it’s difficult when crew are often resistant to even simple changes. Even emailing out a call sheet instead of printing it freaks people out.”

…Anna Smith is an extremely generic name, but now I’m married I have a much cooler one to use when I want to [Anna Smith Tenser]. My father-in-law was one of the first horror and exploitation producers in the UK back in the 60s & 70s. He produced a selection of British classics and some of my favourite horror films for directors including Roman Polanski, Michael Reeves, Burt Kennedy. So now whenever I do anything related to horror (or film in general) I have to make sure ‘Tenser’ is included in the credit to honour his legacy.”

…I’m never direct enough with people. Every now and then I wish I could slam my fist down and say something pissed me off. But nothing pisses me off. Even when stuff goes wrong I don’t blame people. I just want to solve it.”

…Sometimes it’s great not to talk about work. We all work in this industry because we love it and respect our peers. But I want to learn about people, have a nice conversation. Often you can know someone professionally, but never get to the real person underneath.”

Anna Smith is EP / MD at Iconoclast London.

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