Crowdfunding Our Own Stories
Wonderful. Excellent. Poignant. That is the only way I can describe director Sydney Freeland’s web short Her Story, a six-episode look into the lives of queer and trans women in Los Angeles. Unlike Transparent, another trans-focused show, all trans characters on the show are played by trans actors, like Angelica Ross (click here to read the Queer & Present post on her). It does not shy away from important, but hard issues like trans exclusion from the greater community, or the more hidden problem of domestic violence against queer people. It has gotten buzz from publications like The LA Times, The Guardian, NBC News, and Buzzfeed; and it even garnered a nomination for an Emmy Award last summer. So why has it been over a year since the last season came out? Why is there no second season in sight?
According to Her Story’s website, the production team is still paying off the costs from season one. These costs include loans, festival submissions, and publicity, to name a few. It used Indiegogo to come up with the original funds for the project, and now it uses a donation page on its website. It is sad that quality LGBT content is not more largely supported by big production companies, but the good news is that with crowdfunding, we can still have it (though we have to be more patient).
Queer Ghost Hunters, the campy, spooky docu-series by Stu Maddox, also would not have even been possible without its Kickstarter. The beloved comedy-mystery web series Where The Bears Are, which just aired its fifth season, would not have been possible without its many donors (you can see them all listed by name on their website). Crowdfunding has made queer video content what it is today, yet it is a precarious ground to stand on: what would happen to these shows if the funding just dried up?
However, my question is: do we want these shows to get corporate backing? Do we want them to enter the mainstream? Obviously, I want them to have financial security. I want a season two of Her Story. Yet I wonder what might get censored, what would have to get cut. I like the rawness of these shows, and with a higher production value, shows like Ghost Hunters might lose their charm. Also, only a few networks (like Amazon, Netflix, and HBO) can allow for swears and nudity, and these web series might not want these kinds of restrictions on them.
However, we can’t know the future, and these shows that we adore might not ever get picked up by anyone. In the meantime, it is important to support queer artists, actors, and producers by supporting them monetarily (if you can). Crowdfunding has made their visions possible, but crowdfunding is also the only way to keep their creations alive. We can have a season two of Her Story, we can have a season six of Where the Bears Are. We have to support them, though, if we want them.
Amelia Henry is a Contributor at InQueery.