Anna Lee, winner of XBIZ 2021 Woman of the Year

I founded 2049 during a time when my life was at its most chaotic. I was in a relationship with my ex-partner who was in active addiction and at the same time...

My name is Anna Lee and I am the CEO and Executive Producer of 2049 Entertainment Inc; a Virtual Reality production company that creates cutting edge, immersive, inclusive, engaging content in live-action film, audio, and digital animation formats, that is both innovative and entertaining while incorporating the latest in film and sex technology applications.

How long have you been involved in the adult industry? Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

With a background in Film and Media, I have 20 years of experience in the Adult Industry. A graduate of the University of Toronto, her first company Court3San Entertainment was a web-based cam and phone sex service in the early 2000s. 

Post Court3San moved into the realm of Virtual World Technology in the role of President of Utherverse Digital Inc.; makers of Red Light Center & the Virtual World Web. 

The knowledge gained from Virtual Technologies gave birth to HoloFilm Productions in 2015; a Virtual Reality Content Production Company and makers of where I served as its President, Executive Producer, as well as one of its in-house Writers and Directors. During the time at HoloGirlsVR, the studio quickly became one of the most successful adult VR content sites, winning the first AVN Award for BEST VR STUDIO and BEST VR SEX SCENE in 2017, as well as receiving multiple nominations since then, including a nomination for Best Director: Web for Anna Lee at the 2019 AVN Awards. 

In 2019, I publicly launched 2049 Entertainment Inc.; a Virtual Reality production company that creates cutting edge, immersive, inclusive, engaging content in live-action film, audio, and digital animation formats, that is both innovative and entertaining while incorporating the latest in film and sex technology applications. The company is on a mission to press beyond the status quo of typical VR production and raise the bar for everyone at the intersection of the Adult Industry and Virtual Reality. 

2049’s first release, “The Black Box Collection”; a 14 episode, ASMR, VR collection of solo performances experimented with the notion of creating “experience” vs. a traditional “porn” scene. The result was an authentic, nonbinary, sensual, and sexual VR experience that can be enjoyed by anyone with a VR headset. The collection received 2 nominations respectively for Best VR Scene at both the 2020 XBIZ and AVN Awards.  The Black Box Collection, Season Two is scheduled for release in 2021 along with multiple other VR titles and XXXperiences, written, directed, and produced by Anna, currently in pre-production. 

Alongside 2049; concurrently I lend my skill set to the marketing/content team at ViRo Playspace; a high-quality, sex-positive, online adult play space that encourages adult-themed exploration in a safe, non-judgmental, and anonymous environment where participants can engage in solo or upcoming social spaces in real-time with synchronized sex devices.

What drew you to wanting to work on virtual reality?

VR chose me actually, not the other way around. 

To be fair, I have always been interested in tech; which is why and how I started in the adult industry. Furthermore; I have always been personally interested in new tech. A trait that was inherited from my father who would often bring home the latest in camera or entertainment hardware home in the 80s. 

My work with Redlightcenter and Virtual Worlds is what ultimately led me to work on VR and seeing the impact that had on people globally as a form of connective entertainment is what ultimately led me to my focus on it. 

How did you come up with the idea of What is the story behind it?

I founded 2049 during a time when my life was at its most chaotic. I was in a relationship with my ex-partner who was in active addiction, and at the same time, the production budget was drastically cut at HoloGirlsVR (where I was the President and main Producer). I was unhappy and unfulfilled both personally and professionally. 

During this time I watched the movie Blade Runner 2049 and I left the movie inspired and determined to create something similar to the character JOI (how ironic her name is J.O.I) which was a virtual AI girlfriend to the main character. 

The entire movie played with the themes of reality vs. real life and the importance of the feeling of experience. I then decided it was time to make the type of content that I truly enjoyed and that I wanted to make VR/MR entertainment that was truly immersive, that pushed the boundaries of innovation, and that played with one of the most important ingredients in human feeling;  love and intimacy. 

Furthermore, I wanted to create a space and a team where both myself and the performers could feel safe, cared for, and supported in a way in which they could explore their sexuality with authenticity and focus on intimacy. 

Overall, 2049 is representative of the influence that Blade Runner 2049 and its themes had on me, as well as the idea that the future of entertainment is here, now.

What is VR’s company vision? 

The company is on a mission to press beyond the status quo of typical VR production and raise the bar for everyone at the intersection of the Adult Industry and Virtual Reality. When I am the director, however, my work; which is often nonbinary, is always ethical and with an emphasis on empowerment, creating a space (specifically within VR) where both performers and audience members can safely and consensually explore sexuality within the realm of an experience that truly blurs the line between the real and the virtual while reflecting the voice of today. 

What are key differences about female-directed, written, driven porn that is different from the male-dominated porn films?

I think the differences are less about gender and more about the individual director(s) and producer(s). However, for myself, I know that I personally focus on the moments that happen before all the clothing comes off. I strive to create an extremely realistic, sensory experience that takes its time and draws out the seduction. 

To me, there is nothing hotter than those first few moments before you hook up with someone…that anticipation. It’s intense, and that is what I work towards re-creating. When the sex happens, it’s almost like that first drop of a roller coaster. I then work towards building you up and dropping you over and over again for about 30 mins or so.

To further comment on the female vs male producer thing, many of my female peers really pay attention to the details, and I love that. At times, it feels like it’s more about the whole picture, rather than just the sex. Also; some of the most stunning and hot content, in my opinion, has been produced by women in the last few years. 

What do you strive to produce within it, and where do you want to go as a producer, director? 

I touched on this above, but I strive to make highly realistic, extremely sensual, VR experiences that really play with that feeling of anticipation and deep, deep lust. 

The work that I want to move more towards is more of this. Exploring the senses and also incorporating new technology along the way to really blur the line between virtual and real. 

Who are some top female porn producers to be on the lookout for?

These ladies are already here! Kayden Kross is one of my favorites. Her work is just immaculate. Angie Rowntree is a brilliant filmmaker. Her work transcends adults. But someone who is up and coming and Susanne Ferrari who just launched I love what she’s doing there! Also, Lily Sparks of Afterglow is very very new. One to watch. 

How did you create the videos? How many VR videos are in making? In total how many VR films have your name as a producer so far?

I shoot my VR films using a specific VR camera. Currently, I am shooting on the K2 Pro VR camera. Right now in post-production, I have about 10 scenes in the post right now and some really amazing ones scheduled for the first quarter of the year. 

I am at about 500 ish scenes so far in my total career as a VR producer, not including non VR.

Can you tell a few names you’ve worked with?

I have worked with a lot of performers! From Tera Patrick to Abella Danger, Joanna Angel, Kayden Kross, Romi Rain..the list goes on….for more though, I really love, and have had the amazing honor of working with brand new talent. I often direct and produce ladies in their first scenes ever. It’s such a privilege to be able to lead a girl through her first scene, and in the last few months, I have been focused on working and developing the talent in Canada. 

I look forward to walking through the doors that VR will open when it comes to producing experiences that transcend all genres and use cases, in the future…

In your eyes what is more important in VR film?

The most important aspect is focusing on the experience in VR. Often times, producers that cross over from non-VR, will just shoot sex the same way they would regardless of the medium. This is a huge mistake. The barrier to entry in regards to consuming VR is massive; therefore, we as producers really need to focus on giving consumers a reason to jump through all those hurdles and really focus on elements of the experience so that the viewer can feel truly immersed in the scene.  

How is a VR set different from a conventional set?

A VR set in general is no different in the way it operates from a conventional set. The difference is in the camera being used and how the performers interact. VR requires the performer who is in front of the camera to really carry most, if not all of the scene. 

A good VR performer has a natural acting style, the ability to talk with ease, and incredible eye contact. As for; what is more often than not, the male performer, if he is the body under the camera in a POV scene, his eye line is replaced by a camera and he is literally just a stunt prop. It is extremely challenging for male performers and even some of the most popular struggle with it from time to time. 

Do you think the Virtual Reality Porn will replace regular/normal/standard/old style porn?

It will never replace traditional 2D porn, however, I think the way that VR porn currently exists is literally only the beginning of where this medium will go. Right now we are only scratching the surface of what is possible and how immersive adult content looks and functions. 5 to 10 years from now, we will have evolved to something much more immersive, realistic, and impressive with the use of new motion capture and mixed reality technologies. In my opinion; there will always be traditionally shot porn and immersive reality porn in the future. 

What does VR mean for the future of porn? Do you think it can save the industry?

Maybe I am an optimist but the industry doesn’t need saving. This industry, like all others, is in a constant state of evolution based on the needs and trends of its consumers. We are in a self-produced, more amateur phase at the moment that is bringing more money into the pockets of individual content creators. The trend is moving away from studios and producers which hurts some and benefits others. So depending on who you are speaking to, the industry is either going horribly wrong or amazing. 

I feel, however, that those who chose to work in VR and are continuously trying to better the product through a balance of content vs technology will always have a place. There is a basic human need to feel connection and intimacy, even if you have social anxiety. To be able to create a safe and controlled space to be able to explore your sexuality will always be in demand. 

Fallow Anna Lee on Twitter and Instagram.

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