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Her Story is a 6-episode new-media series that looks inside the dating lives of trans and queer women as they navigate the intersections of desire & identity. Here's my interview with Producer Katherine Fisher. Plus, scroll down to watch all six episodes of Her Story Season 1 now for free!
How did you get involved with Her Story?
I’ve known Laura for many years. When she said she was writing a script with Jen about trans and queer women I was eager to read it and once I did I fell in love with the story, its simplicity, its representation of our community and the people that I was seeing in my life. I had just formed my own production company - Speed of Joy - and I pitched them some ideas around producing it, and luckily they agreed to let me take it on. Once that decision was made everything moved pretty quickly and we were shooting just a few months later.
What were the challenges of crowdfunding?
I would say the biggest challenge was trying to raise over $35k for a web series that focused on trans and queer women. That’s not typically a media format or subject matter that has donors rushing to find their credit cards. It took a lot of effort to ensure that the campaign was getting out there and getting seen and that took a lot of social media strategy (headed by our social media coordinator Tara DeMarco). We were fortunate to garner support from people like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock which proved vital to getting more publicity for the series and the campaign, which in tern helped keep the momentum going. We also we had a great trailer, some incredible behind the scenes footage and videos from our ‘bts’ director J. Gwen Locke Lis, and some fantastic images from set by photographer Teamea Aegle so while it was an ambitious task, we were able to create a compelling campaign and release assets that kept it alive and interesting. Ultimately we had over 600 donors in 22 countries raising over $37k and I would say not one of those donations exceeded $1k, so it was a lot of people donating what they could - $5 here, $20 there - to get this made.
How long was the show in production for and did you film the episodes back-to-back?
We shot Her Story like you would a feature film, so the script was shot out in full over 14-days in April/May of 2015.
The show is set in Los Angeles. What can you tell us about the locations?
Her Story is set in East Los Angeles, specifically Echo Park and we very much wanted the audience to feel like they were a part of this neighborhood when they watched the series. Bérénice Eveno (Director of Photography) and Sydney Freeland (Director) did an incredible job of really creating this world on camera and almost making the neighborhood a character. While it all had an aesthetic reason behind it, Echo Park was also chosen out of convenience and authenticity as it is where both Laura and I live (in fact Vi and Marks house, the cafe, Paige’s bedroom are all shot in our house). Every location we shot in was in or around Echo Park with exception of Paige’s office (which was generously donated to us by GLAAD), and hopefully the end result is a real sense of place.
Some scenes (such as Bad Penny’s concert) feature a lot of people. Were they extras or did you film in locations with real people?
We used both extras (when we could get them) and spare crew (when we couldn’t). I think pretty much every non-operating crew member ended up in the background of some scene, myself included. Many of the extras were friends and people from our community, in fact some people even flew in to be a part of this, even if just in the background. It’s a lot of work that is under appreciated and entirely underpaid, but having those bodies in a space - especially for a scene like the concert - is so vital to establishing the atmosphere needed to get the right look and performances. We’re very grateful to everyone who served as a background actor on this series.
Her Story offers an authentic and moving portrayal of trans life. Do you think that the success comes collaborating with an LGBTQ cast and crew?
Absolutely yes. Her Story is not just a “trans story” it is very much about both trans and queer women, and to me going into this project it was vital that the LGBTQ+ community be at the forefront of creating this not just in front of the camera but behind it as well. From the beginning we wanted to create quality content with an emphasis on employing LGBTQ+ and female identified professionals and succeeding in this I absolutely think that we were able to create an authentic, nuanced representation of our community. The set really became like a family for many people. It was a safe space where cast and crew could focus on doing their jobs to the best of their ability and not have to worry about “passing” or being misgendered or hiding their sexuality or their relationships. We had two people come out on set, one as trans and the other as bi, and that ability to work closely with each other as ourselves I think shows up in the finished product.
Would you like to see a 2nd season of Her Story and what have you got planned for 2016?
Our goal is to get the series picked up for development as a 30 minute per episode show. To that end we have a treatment for a 10 episode “season 1” - of which what we’ve released already would essentially be the pilot, and we’re actively trying to pitch Her Story to networks, studios, and larger online platforms. We have a lot more stories to tell and directions that we want to take these characters in, and we feel that there is an audience just waiting for this content, we just need someone to take a chance on us.
Have you got any tips for filmmakers thinking of crowdfunding a project?
Know ahead of time that it’s a full time job, you have to put time and effort and resources into it to be successful. If you can, secure separate funding for shooting principal photography so that all you are worrying about at that time is the filmmaking. We were fortunate to be in that position and our crowdfund campaign came months after we shot and was strictly to see us through some of postproduction. This also enabled us to not only dedicate time to creating the campaign but also gave us the assets (footage, photos, trailer, interviews etc) to release which was proof that this was a project that was actually going to be made. To us this made all the difference.
By Sarah O'Connell on 21st January 2016
Watch all 6 episodes of Her Story for FREE below now!
Once playing, click on the box in the bottom right to view Full Screen.
HER STORY: S1, Episode 1 HER STORY: S1, Episode 2
HER STORY: S1, Episode 3 HER STORY: S1, Episode 4
HER STORY: S1, Episode 5 HER STORY: S1, Episode 6