Wendy Jo Carlton: Rebel With a Camera

Lesbian writer, director, and filmmaker Wendy Jo Carlton has always been a working-class, rebellious girl — a theme that continues in her work today.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

January 11 2013 7:00 AM ET

Tell me more about your media literacy program, Chicks Make Flicks. When did you found the program, and what does a typical day in the program look like?
Chicks Make Flicks was created so that teenage women could have access to cameras and editing tools in a space without young men around. [Where] they feel freer to express themselves, and to get comfortable with technical stuff without co-ed social pressures, and sexist misconceptions about technology and who is "good at it." The program also integrates critical viewing skills around the representation (or lack thereof) of women and girls in movies and TV. We watch clips of popular shows and commercials, with and without the sound on, and discuss what we see and how that affects us all in an oppressive and inaccurate way — For men and boys too! I'm currently seeking funding to get the program up and running again, and to be able to bring it to smaller towns in the U.S. too. My dream is to travel in an RV and bring Chicks Make Flicks to a dozen places, and create a film that connects the girls from each different town, in addition to them making their own personal videos.

On that note, what advice do you have for young lady-loving filmmakers looking to break into the field?
My suggestion for newer filmmakers, regardless of gender, is to collaborate with like-minded artists and help each other get things done, while at the same time commit yourself to sitting down alone and writing. That's the best way to develop your ideas and characters, and to get to the bottom of what you care about. Those insights are what will keep you energized, because planning and completing films requires a lot of energy and determination. If you're an LGBTQ filmmaker and want to make new LGBTQ-specific content, there is certainly a demand for more fresh content. And with access to the whole planet via the interwebs, it's easier and cheaper than ever before to make that happen.

How has the filmmaking industry changed with the advent of crowd-sourcing sites like Kickstarter? Has it put more power into smaller filmmaker’s hands? And is it actually a viable way to get a film funded?
Last year Kickstarter campaigns raised more than $1 million for independent film projects. So yes, it's a viable place to get funding. But it still takes a village to make a feature film, so creating partnerships locally with folks who like you and what you're making is just as important. And so many artists are on the Kickstarter and IndieGoGo wagon now that it's difficult to raise the funds needed without significant support from larger networks that can help promote your campaign. It's still kind of about "who you know," but at least it helps indie queer films get off the ground, and that's the hardest part.

What’s next for Abby in Easy Abby? Will we see her get a handle on her neuroses, perhaps as she finds herself in a fulfilling relationship (or two)?
I have to say I'm a bit in love with Abby. She's a chronic seducer with an anxiety disorder. She's good in bed and has a knack for zoning in on what a woman wants in the moment, but she's a bit of a grump outside of the zone, and she's not so good at love or longevity. Lisa Cordileone is just fabulous in this role and we work together developing the character. Each episode is five to six minutes long, and somewhere in the middle of our 14-episode season one, Abby meets a woman who will set her back on her heels in a way she's never been. There are ongoing threads in season one: Abby meets Danielle, and Abby supports her best pal Sara through a sudden breakup. In between, we learn more about Abby's troubled mother, and how Abby gets women to come home with her.

What’s next for you? Any teasers on projects you’ve got in the works?
I'm completing editing and sound design for Easy Abby season one, all of which will continue to be rolled out online by March. We will then repackage it as a feature film, so it can screen in festivals and theaters as well. And I'm crazy enough to be working on a season two arc for Easy Abby, plus working on the business end of getting sponsors for the show so we can continue producing it. Jamie and Jessie are Not Together is just now out on DVD, iTunes, Amazon and Google Play, so I'm up to my elbows promoting that. I really want Jamie and Jessie's love affair to be seen and enjoyed in 20 languages around the world. It's been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, and French so far.

My next feature film is a suspense mystery set in a convent called, The Disappearance of Sister Pauline, and yes, it has a lesbian nun and a bisexual protagonist.

Tags: film

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