YouTuber Anna Akana will star in and develop the Gidden Media’s digital feature “I ❤ Social Media,” scripted by Rita Merson. A romantic comedy in the spirit of the 1940 film “The Shop Around the Corner,” it marks the first foray into digital for Gidden, a content incubator founded by producer Amy Baer that was one of the prodcos behind the 2013 big screen comedy “Last Vegas.”
Akana, 25, is an actress, comedian and filmmaker who has racked up more than 1.25 million subscribers and 110 million views on her YouTube Channel, which features comic sketches, vlogs and short films such as “Women Can Be Dicks Too” (below), “Pregnapocalypse” and “Why I’m a Sell Out.”
“The guys in my office and my teenage sons are constantly turning me on to young YouTube talent,” Baer told VideoInk. “I really connected with Anna because she is funny and subversive at the same time. That’s very hard to do. Everything she does has a smart point of view and aspires to say something as well as entertain. That is a sophisticated, authentic and rare talent.”
Baer said she won’t necessarily stack “I ❤ Social Media” with digital influencers, a la “Expelled” and “Camp Takota,” but she’s not opposed to casting YouTubers and Viners, if they’re an organic fit.
“I think that vlogging is a version of performance,” Baer explained. “They have something to say — a story to tell — and find a way to convey it. Some create personas; some talk directly to camera, etc. The medium is different than film and/or television, just as stage acting requires different skills from film acting.”
Baer (pictured, below) launched Beverly Hills-based Gidden Media in 2012 with a seven-figure development fund backed by private investors. Its first film “Last Vegas,” starring Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline, grossed over $136 million worldwide. Its current slate includes “A Storm in the Stars,” a period romantic drama starring Elle Fanning to be directed by Haifaa Al Mansour (“Wadjda”), and an adaptation of the Taylor Jenkins Reid novel “Forever, Interrupted,” starring Dakota Johnson (“Fifty Shades of Grey”), produced in partnership with Good Universe.
“The thesis of the company is to incubate content for all distribution platforms — film, television and digital,” Baer said. “We started with film because that is my background, but we are now developing for television and digital.
“Last Vegas” was shot primarily in Atlanta to take advantage of Georgia’s 30% film and TV tax credit, but Baer says there are no plans to use a production incentive with “I ❤ Social Media.”
“I don’t think the budget on something like this will warrant a need to shop for production incentives, and it would be nice to keep it local anyway and create jobs here,” Baer said.