When Catherine is fired for not taking enough risks at work and Alex is dumped for taking too many, the two best friends band together to start a lady-focused porn production company, because what else would they do? Such is the premise of Female Friendly, created by and starring Chelsea Alana Rivera and Taylor C. Baker, which has two complete episodes already streaming on Seeka.tv5 and a Seed&Spark campaign4 for the rest of the season that ends July 6th.
We spoke with the co-creators and real life friends about how the show came about and where it’s going from here.
How did you two meet?
TCB: Chelsea and I first met in a Narrative Film Class our Junior Year at The University of Texas in Austin. We then went on to live with each other all of senior year and moved out to Los Angeles together.
CAR: But that’s not the whole story! It was actually pretty funny because before meeting, we were cast as best friends in a show. So when I met her in class, I was like, “Wait a second. Aren’t we both in the same project?” So by the time we shot the project, we had actually become legitimate friends.
TCB: Porn is a perfect example of a male-dominated industry, and a core theme in our show is challenging gender stereotypes and giving women a stronger voice in media. Thusly, using porn as a lens to look through gives us a really interesting spectrum of topics to discuss that are otherwise considered taboo. The show is not about porn as much as it is about two very different best friends learning to make their mark on an industry traditionally run by men.
CAR: We wanted to tell a hilarious, female-driven narrative that dealt with themes like entrepreneurship, friendship, sexuality, and gender stereotypes so the porn industry was the perfect backdrop to delve into these topics. Additionally, we choose porn because it’s important to talk about. It’s a discourse about sexuality, masculinity, femininity, and it informs people’s lives without them realizing it. Given the majority of what’s out there, that’s a pretty scary thought! Luckily, there are real life Cats & Alexs out there, like feminist adult film director Erika Lust, who are making waves!
What was the development and production process like for the show, as a team?
CAR: The development process was extremely rewarding but probably one of those most difficult things I’ve tackled. I had written shorts in college but this was my first stab at a series. But in terms of process, it started with a random idea which led to an outline which led to an extremely long, sometimes painful, but very rewarding writing process.
As far as the production process, that was the best ever. We pulled the longest days and got no sleep but we were energized by the experience. It also helped that we’ve been really fortunate with having fantastic people coming on board to make the experience that much better.
Taylor and I work really well together because I am a big picture thinker and she is very detailed. As for tension, of course! There are always going to be discomfort when you’re collaborating and trying to birth something. Luckily, Taylor and I are great communicators and have always been able to work through anything that’s thrown our way.
TCB: Creating Female Friendly has been a really fun process, and Chelsea and I work really together! Our individual strengths and weaknesses seem to puzzle-piece together into a weirdly perfect mosaic. The only hang-up we have faced has been trying to balance our friendship with being “business” partners.
Why make this a web series, and not a more traditional “pilot” or short film or feature? What about the web series format felt right for this project?
CAR: I’ve always been a TV fanatic. I love the process of watching a character grow and transform over the span of multiple episodes. However, with that said, our priority was getting it made. To us, a web series was the most feasible option. We, of course, have our pitch together for a traditional TV pilot, if the opportunity were to arise, but we wanted to make this show on our own terms without outside influences telling us to make it sexier or more catered toward a male audience.
TCB: I too, am a big TV fan! As an actress, as well as a writer, TV is such an exciting place to watch characters grow with each episode and/or season. The web series decision was a result of many factors. Namely, we were inspired by the likes of Issa Rae — creating your own show and making your own opportunities in the industry.
How and why did you end up making two full episodes before launching your crowdfunding campaign?
CAR: If I’m being 1000% honest, in the beginning we had no idea what we were doing, which in the long run has really served us. We shot these episodes because we just wanted to take the next step, to have the chance to do something fun. We didn’t have the funds to do the whole season so we just started with two episodes. Because we took that first step, we’ve been able to build a small fanbase, secure distribution, and show potential donors what we’re capable of.
TCB: We self-funded the first two episodes as a proof of concept to better position ourselves to get sponsors and show our contributors a bit of what we can do. At the time, we were simply chomping at the bit to get started, so we did anything we could do to make the first step.
How did you hear about and pitch your show to SeekaTV, and what benefits do you think you gained from being a part of their catalog?
TCB: I met George, the founder of Seeka TV, at Austin Web Fest in the summer of 2016. He loved the show and immediately offered us one of the original positions on the roster. Working with Seeka has been amazing, not only due to their sponsorship of the series, but because of how they truly celebrate independent filmmakers.
CAR: It really was an unexpected surprise! This is a great example of what I was talking about before regarding just taking the next step. This has been a long journey and admittedly, until probably a year ago, we were flying by the seat of our pants. We submitted to festivals because we didn’t know what else to do with our first two episodes. Then one day during Austin Web Fest, I got an email from George through the FF site and I was able to connect him with Taylor so they could meet up in Austin.
What were and will be the challenges of making this show?
TCB: Raising money has definitely been the biggest challenge yet, but I am sure there are more fun obstacles to come as we enter production. We have a pretty optimistic shooting schedule, trying to shoot as much as possible a day, definitely more than the average five pages. I am exhausted just thinking about shooting!
CAR: I would say the wearing of many hats is definitely the most challenging. When you’re low-budget, you’re producing, you’re acting, you’re directing sometimes. It’s a lot. Especially, as Taylor mentioned, when you have such a demanding shooting schedule as we do, it’s sometimes hard to find a balance. Luckily, if we meet our Seed & Spark goal, we’ll be able to bring on some really talented people to lessen the load.
What can you tell us about the future of the show and the characters, without spoiling anything?
TCB: Let’s just say, the Catherine and Alex have a lot to learn from each other…
CAR: Through this shared experience, Alex & Cat learn and grow from each other which allows them to get out of their comfort zones, not just in their work lives, but personal as well. Did that work? Was I vague enough?
In 50 words or less- why should people donate to your Seed & Spark campaign, if they aren’t already convinced?
CAR/TCB: Female Friendly is a thoughtful, female-driven comedy that uses humor to transcend the status quo. More than just a web series, it’s a vehicle through which powerful women, friendship, and sex & body positivity are celebrated. It showcases real women who triumph over their obstacles by lifting each other up.
What are some of your favorite web series?