An Interview with Anna Arrowsmith

Anna Arrowsmith is Britain’s most acclaimed female adult film director. Amongst numerous other awards she won Best Director at the UK Adult Film & TV Awards for two consecutive years. Anna has fought hard for women’s rights to sexual expression and consumption. In response to negative comments from feminists and anti-porn activists she has made clear her belief that instead of focusing on trying to silence images of women in porn, we should be focusing on trying to increase the prevalence of other imagery, such as women as heads of business,and as powerful politicians.


Part of her feminist standpoint is insisting that a woman can be all things and many things at once. In the 2010 UK general election Anna stood as a candidate for the Liberal Democrat party. She successfully increased the Liberal Democrat vote share by nearly one third compared to the previous election results, and by more than the regional average. She says that she stood for election for exactly the same reason that she decided to start making pornography for women more than 12 years ago: ‘Someone had to do it and it didn’t look like anyone else was going to – at least not with the drive, enthusiasm and determination that I could offer.’

I was delighted to be able to chat with Anna on the phone from her home in Los Angeles. I first became aware of her name when the film Hug A Hoodie was listed in a newspaper for winning a number of awards. If you imagine a female porn director to be in any way a dizzy blonde stereotype you will be very much mistaken. Anna is an articulate, intelligent, and passionate speaker. Even if watching porn is not your cup of tea, the strength of her arguments towards a more female inclusive industry make it impossible not to be inspired by her. If you are looking for a role model for feminism, look no further.

You studied at Central St Martins in London. Did you know whilst at university that you would pursue a career in the adult film industry?

Yes, my final graduation piece was pornographic, although I was not allowed to exhibit it at the main show. The university was worried that my film might upset people’s grandparents. It was the only experimental film course in the country and they still had very conservative views. It was ridiculous.

My film was met with disgust. Posters that I created to recruit actors were defaced or ripped down by members of staff. I knew that it would happen and I leaned an important lesson in life: that you’ve got to stick your neck out for what you want. I could have produced the type of film that my tutors would approve of, and got a better grade, but I would have ended up doing some crap job that I didn’t enjoy.

What was it that kept you motivated despite such pressures?

I’ve always been a fairly obstinate person. If somebody says no to me it makes me want to do it more. I knew from a young age that I would do something a bit different from the norm. Growing up my mother’s mantra to me was ‘don’t you want to be different, Anna?’

I think that’s an excellent thing to say to a child. She may have regretted it though, I think by ‘different’ she meant for me to be a lawyer!

And what inspired you?

In the 1980s the only way to be a feminist was to be anti-porn. So, as a young teenager I was anti-porn. However, at the age of sixteen I walked down Old Compton Street and I realised that my anger towards pornography was actually only to do with envy. At this time, men had every single facet of their sexuality catered for, whether that be with magazines or strip clubs, and yet women had nothing. I felt that it would make much more powerful statement, as a woman, to work towards creating a version of Soho that was female friendly.

I became involved in the adult industry because I felt that in order to make porn more accessible to women there was a need to make imagery that was not sexist. I used to say I made porn for women but very quickly I realised I was actually making it from a female perspective. Men and women’s tastes aren’t mutually exclusive. If a man and woman can have sex together and enjoy it, they can watch the same film of a man and woman having sex together and enjoy it.

To read the complete interview, which is printed in our second magazine Quite Lovely, follow the link here and purchase your copy today!

20th July 2015 | Alice Taylor

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