After Anna Akana and Ray William Johnson uploaded all five acts of their sci-fi, teenage drama Riley Rewind to Facebook and YouTube under the banner of their Runaway Planet studio, Akana quickly moved onto a new project.
The burgeoning entertainer is releasing 12 short films in 2014, so that she may hone her writing and directing skills and essentially “learn by doing.” The first of Akana’s shorts to hit the internet was Hallucination, a two-minutes-and-fifty-six departure from her regularly scheduled, vlog-style videos and a look look at a mental health patient who battles a figment of the imagination. More shorts are shot and scheduled for release in the very near future, but in the meantime Akana took to her camera to talk about the short filmmaking process in the kind of detail creators of all kinds (unless you’re Freddie Wong) tend to shy away from.
In addition to telling viewers the importance of a fantastic, likable crew and shouting out to resources like Cast and Crew Call that can help filmmakers find one, Akana breaks down the production costs of her first two shorts in the video and divulges the budgets of two more that haven’t yet been fully shot. Hallucination, for instance, ran up a bill of $1,479.94, including $800 for crew, $200 for the location, $341 for craft services, $28.35 for props, and $110.39 for Pro Scores Software (for musical tracks). Afflicted, the next short in line that’s yet to be released, totaled $3,519, including $1955 for crew (a lot of which went towards a very good makeup artist), $598 for craft services, $550 for production insurance, $115 for a cooler, $202 for makeup and supplies, and $99 for wardrobe.
The budgets represent not-so-insignificant amounts of money, especially for independent content creators, but Akana feels strongly that the experience of making the films is worth the expenditures. “When you compare it to a semester at college or how much I spent on textbooks for the one year that I went to college, it’s kinda cheaper,” Akana explains in the video. “Or about the same depending on where you went.”
Akana also reveals in the About section of the video how she started producing the shorts so she could challenge herself. Much like her partner in Runaway Planet, she became less proud of her vlogging videos and started to feel like they became little more than a way to help pay the bills. “When my show became nothing more than a way to pay for classes, the fun went out of it,” Akana writes. “I didn’t look forward to filming anymore. I didn’t feel creative. I didn’t feel excited. And that’s no way to be.”