Last year, you heard me talk about a short film AK. 

If you’re curious what’s happened with it since, this blog post is for you.

Wanna skip to the end? The long and short of it is this: we’re working on a means to screen the finished piece locally sometime soon. I’ll share more details about that when things are more finalized.

What’s AK?

AK is the shortened title of the new action short  film, The Innocent AK. It’s based off the main character’s nickname. The short film’s total run time is about three minutes.

AK is fifth film, and my second scripted piece.

My role was writer, executive producer, and director.

On the set of “AK” in February 2016 with my directors of photography Kyle Messina and Kent Willard.

What are the production details?

The film was in production for a few years.

  • 2015: Wrote screenplay, started pre-production
  • 2016: Shot, edited, and finished the film
  • 2017: Currently working to screen the finished piece

The film itself was shot, edited, and made in North Carolina with local cast and crew. I had a great team on this movie, and feel so grateful for each of the folks who helped make it. It’s a really beautiful finished piece.

@robrussell_ on camera #filmmakersofinstagram #ncfilm #setlife #red #redcamera #reddigitalcinema

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Why make this film?

In 2014, I invested in taking directing and cinematography workshops to step up my game. I wrote about the Directing Motion with Vincent Laforet and Illumination Experience with Shane Hurlbut here. They were excellent courses.

Illumination Experience Tour, Charlotte, N.C., September 30, 2014 | Photo by Camden Watts

By 2015, we’d wrapped Brewconomy and were self-distributing the film. It was a really busy time planning events, talking with the media, and sharing the movie. It’s such a fun time in the life of a filmmaker. I love, love, love sharing the finished piece with audiences.

Shane Johnston, executive producer of Brewconomy, and me at the premiere of the film in 2015. Photo via ArtsNow NC.

At the time, since I wasn’t actively shooting, I found myself aching to get back on set to put new knowledge to good use. I kept daydreaming about a scripted film that would feel relatively fast and easy to complete. Well, at least, in comparison to a feature-length documentary.

The idea was a simple one. I wanted to make something that helped me focus on directing to continue honing that craft. The story itself was a snippet from a bigger piece that I could expound on if the finished piece resonated with audiences.

Beyond the technical exercise of shooting an action sequence, I also really wanted to see a “regular” female character (not a superhero) in a fight scene. I call it a “blue duck” film. (Read this post to better understand.) I really love strong, complex, authentic female characters.

I also wanted more experience working with actors, costumes, sets, lighting, etc. Basically, all the things you don’t really find on a doc, I wanted to experiment with in a scripted piece. I have always loved scripted films, and dream about directing a feature-length one day.

AK was also a new genre for me. To date, I’ve mostly made documentaries. AK is my second scripted piece. I’ve tried comedy and loved it; wanted to see what it was like to do something more dramatic. (Learn more about my movies here:

My crew on the set of “AK” in February 2016.

I also really love to experiment with people I trust, and I wanted to work with some folks I’ve come to adore. I respect their work, ethics, integrity, and commitment. But they’re also very fun people to be with on set. (It’s kind of like being a kid and asking the neighborhood kids to come out and play.)

Plus, I have seen proof that really beautiful things are born when you’re a team, making something together that you believe in, and hope that other people enjoy it as much as you did. There are a lot of success stories out of Hollywood that start this way. It’s something I really believe in, and hope to repeat.

Astra Ball and Hayley Tate discuss costumes for “AK” in early 2016.

What’s next for AK?

The plan is to screen the film locally, followed by a Q&A.

AK has been finished and ready to share with the world for a while now. Things in the world and my personal life shifted dramatically during that time, though. I want to handle the next steps with integrity.

If you want details on the screening of AK be sure to sign up for free email updates:

“AK” tiny script – suggested by my producer and assembled by my intern.

Thank You

To everyone who worked on this film: thank you!

To everyone who has followed along, financially supported, or contributed in-kind: thank you!

To everyone who wants to see the movie and keeps asking about it: thank you!

I can’t wait to share more details very soon.

On the set of my film “AK” in February 2016.

Keep Reading

Want to read more about “AK”?

Click the category tag at the top of this post, and you’ll find a lot of earlier entries about making the movie. It’s been a work in progress for a few years.

Or you can read through these relevant blog posts: