I had a chance to sit down with the directors of Female Friendly, a female-driven comedy about two polar opposite best friends who start a female-friendly porn production company. They’ve got just two episodes under their belts and are in the midst of a Seed & Spark campaign to raise the necessary funds to complete the first season — so naturally I jumped at the chance to ask them a little bit about what they do and why they got into the biz.
kristina marie king: What made you decide to start Female Friendly? Why a porn production company as the subject?
Chelsea Alana Rivera: In the beginning, we created Female Friendly because we wanted to create our own opportunities. We were in our last semester at the University of Texas at Austin and we knew after graduation we wanted to pursue acting professionally so this was our idea of ‘taking the bull by the horns’ but it became so much more than that as time went on. Regarding the porn industry, it was the perfect backdrop to our story. Female Friendly deals with themes such as friendship, sexuality, entrepreneurship, and gender roles. All of those are interesting in their own right but when you think of it in the context of porn, then the fun REALLY begins.
Taylor C. Baker: Female Friendly, as Chelsea mentioned, truly did start as a way to make our own opportunities, to play/write characters that we relate to. Once we really got going, we began to realize how much bigger it was than that. Especially looking through the lens of the porn industry, Female Friendly became a beacon of female empowerment – twisting gender stereotypes and giving women the power to embrace their sexuality.
kmk: Are you more like Cat or Alex? Are they based pretty clearly off you and your friendship or are they mixtures of the two?
CAR: Alex and Cat are very much based off of Taylor’s and my real life personalities. They say write what you know and while we originally didn’t know much about the porn industry, we did know ourselves. We knew how we would react if we somehow found ourselves in that situation.
TCB: Cat is, in fact, a hyper-realized version of myself. Cat and Alex differ in the show just as much as Chelsea and I do in real life. These differences truly bring out the best in our characters and give our viewers a a wider range of traits to relate to. We all have a little Cat and Alex in us.
kmk: What are some of the great things about being a woman in comedy? What are some of the bad things?
CAR: It’s an exciting time for women in the media in general. We’re a part of a grassroots movement that is demanding more dynamic, complex female characters. Growing up, the vast majority of women on screen were there to support the male lead. We were like house plants, only there for decoration. But now? Things are changing! It’s exciting to be a part of that. You do, of course, run into people who still make broad generalizations like “Women aren’t funny” or “You’re too hot to be funny” or other ridiculousness but you kinda just have to move past it and stay focused.
TCB: With so many trailblazers before us, it is an honor to be a woman in comedy today. Women have slowly but surely been shaking up the status quo in media. We are thrilled to join the ranks of women challenging gender stereotypes, both on and off camera. Of course, being a woman in comedy is not without its difficulties – but, to quote the king of on-screen womanizers, Barney Stinson, “challenge accepted”.
kmk: Do you feel that you’re discriminated against in the industry because of your gender?
TCB: I wouldn’t say the following examples are discrimination, but they are definitely things that ruffle my feathers. Women, in general, are talked about differently than men – ESPECIALLY in the media. For example, you can have Kate Winslet could be giving the performance of a lifetime, and people will still be picking her apart based on how she looked or what she was wearing. As if she didn’t have anything more interesting to offer than her physical appearance.
CAR: Agreed. I don’t know if I would call it discrimination but I’ve for sure experienced sexism in Hollywood. Then again, it’s pretty blatant and widespread, so that’s to be expected (unfortunately). All you have to do is look at some casting breakdowns. They’re all like “Ok, we’re casting for a physicist but she should at least be a C cup.” It’s ridiculous. Men definitely don’t have to deal with that in the same way.
kmk: What made you decide to go the crowdfunding route to fund Female Friendly?
CAR: Honestly, we had tried a number of other routes before settling on Seed & Spark. However, financing film projects is just plain difficult. Not to mention, when you take money from investors, you also have to incorporate their opinions. We had one potential producer, a man, tell us we needed to sex up our characters some more and seeing as that obviously did not serve our story, we parted ways. With that said, we’re excited about our campaign because not only do we get to tell the story we want to tell, but we’re had the wonderful opportunity to engage so much with our networks and fanbase.
TCB: Crowdfunding gave us more control over the final product, and also allowed us the opportunity to get the word out and grow our movement! Female Friendly is more than another web series, it is a conversation about women in media that we want to promote to as many people as we can.
kmk: If you could achieve anything with Female Friendly, what would it be?
CAR: In a global sense, we want to create something entertaining, but also something that makes you think. Buried in the hilarity, there’s a message we’re trying to send. Also, we strive to be a part of the movement that is bad ass women in film. Female narratives need to be told and if we can contribute to that in any way with Female Friendly then goal accomplished!
TCB: As with my answer above, we want to facilitate a place for women to continue to grow their voice in the media. Making people laugh brings me so much joy, and if Female Friendly makes one person crack a smile, or feel inspired to create their content I will be over the moon.
kmk: What advice would you give to a young woman starting out in production?
CAR: A lot of people will let perfection be the enemy of good. Don’t be that person! You don’t have to wait on a big budget to tell your story. Use what you have. You have an iPhone? Amazing! Shoot a film. It’s never been easier to create your own content so take advantage of the times! A really great example of this is Issa Rae. The first few episodes of her web series, Awkward Black Girl, had less than ideal production quality. However, once people saw what she was capable of with a budget of $0, opportunity started knocking. One thing led to another and now she is the creator of HBO’s Insecure.
TCB: Carry a notebook, inspiration is everywhere! Go see theatre, watch tv, find out what you like and figure out how to use your own voice. Don’t let the industry push you down, it will, but you have to push back – it is a hard career path, but it is a fun adventure!
Thank you so much to Taylor and Chelsea for answering all my questions — check out Female Friendly online! The first two episodes can be found on Seeka TV (free login required) or at their official site (no login necessary). If you like it, don’t forget to support some kickass women chasing their dreams at their Seed & Spark campaign.