Kathryn Graham: What Makes ClexaCon Special?

Wynonna Earp’s Dominique Provost-Chalkley (Waverly Earp) and Kat Barrell (Nicole Haught) having a laugh 

by Kathryn Graham

ClexaCon is an inclusive convention held in Las Vegas and London celebrating queer women on screen and behind the scenes. It’s the first of its kind, and that makes it unique in and of itself, but much more than that, here is what I found special:

Genuine human connection, a celebratory spirit, and powerful support.

From Kat Barrell (Nicole Haught on Wynonna Earp) crying about the isolation that older queer women suffered growing up without easy access to their community to Vanessa Piazza (Producer of Lost Girl and Dark Matter) stating outright that when you climb the ladder, you help others up; it’s an atmosphere that’s truly like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.

I’m out here in Hollywood, which isn’t as cutthroat as people make it out to be, but which isn’t exactly the most welcoming space. We have gatekeepers who are always looking at the bottom line (aka “The Business”). People who have firm beliefs that only certain types of characters can sell (prejudiced chicanery). You have to prove, hundreds of times over to many different people, that you’re ‘worth it’, i.e. that you can make everyone a lot of money.

It’s ultra competitive. It’s isolating, even among friends, as you’re always pitted against each other. Even people who enjoy your company can be so busy that you have to ask nine times if they want to have lunch. And it’s fine. It’s the way it is. This industry is demanding. People have other priorities. You have no control over who wins a contest or gets an agent or get staffed. At least not at my level. But that means that sometimes it can seem like no one cares all that much about you except you. You’re a drop in the ocean.

Not so at ClexaCon.

There, people see you. People care about you. They want you to tell your stories, and they want to help you make it happen.

That’s revolutionary.

As a writer, I always thought that queer female characters were a non-starter. Why wouldn’t I think that? For most of my life, we could barely get good roles for women on television (and feature films are worse), let alone main storylines for queer characters.

I expected that if I was ever lucky and dogged enough to get my original work sold, I’d be in long, drawn out battles to keep my main character and her love interest female. Because I knew I’d never compromise.

I believed that no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I improved my craft, no matter how the story came out, it wouldn’t matter because nobody wants to see queer women on television.

Then last year, ClexaCon changed all of that.

Last ClexaCon, Emily Andras (Showrunner for Wynonna Earp) told us that if we ever doubted there was an audience for our stories, then we should take a look around that packed room, and then never doubt again. This year, she reiterated that, and it was more poignant than ever. Because that room was three times the size and packed to overflowing.

Last year, in ClexaCon’s premiere year, I wrote a lot about the ethics of storytelling from panels led by Dr. Elizabeth Bridges and Gretchen Ellis.  A huge number of queer female characters had been killed off on television that season, and it was a depressing subject.

This year, as the panelists noted, there is more and more content – Black Lightning, Everything Sucks, Runaways – that doesn’t even need to be told how to write queer stories ethically: they already know.

Last ClexaCon, for the first time in my life, I could look around and definitively say: here are my people. They get me, and I get them. This year, I was touched by creators and actresses who aren’t queer but who are as invested in these stories as we are.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it is have hope that I can reach so many others like me. How heartening it is to see people like my straight, male friend welcomed with open arms and to see his sincere interest in everything ClexaCon stands for. Just a few years ago, I would never have believed that not only do so many queer women want queer stories, but so do so many others who don’t identify as queer.

So even if the world outside ClexaCon has so much further to go, at ClexaCon you can see where we should be. Because, in a world that can seem so uncaring and disconnected, ClexaCon is genuine love.

Also, bonus: no ‘con funk’ (a haze of body odor at… pretty much every other convention ever).

Photo Credit: Kathryn Graham

Check out more photos from ClexaCon on my Instagram: KateGrahamTV


Kathryn Graham is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor and award winning writer. Learn more about Kate HERE

Most Viewed TVWriter™ Posts of the Week – April 23, 2018

Time for TVWriter™’s Monday look at our most popular blog posts of the week ending yesterday. They are:

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

LB: Where Did THE FALL GUY Live?

Top TVWriter™ Posts of the Week – April 16, 2018

LB: Untold Tales of the Animated SILVER SURFER TV Series Ep. 20

‘The Following’ Season 4 was Cancelled by Fox Because the TV Series Became a Victim of Lazy Writing!

And our most visited permanent resource pages are:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

PEOPLE’S PILOT Writing Contest

THE BASICS OF TV WRITING: Overview

SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED SECOND SEASON ARC

The Logline

Big thanks to everybody for making this another great week at TVWriter™ . Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!

Bri Castellini: Fame, Branding, and Chubby Women – @brisownworld

Image credit goes to Marshall Taylor Thurman, who has the unique ability to get incredibly unflattering photos of my giant arms.

by Bri Castellini

Been thinking a lot about branding recently. It’s a topic that comes up a lot in indie filmmaking, because it’s important that all of your projects’ assets follow similar themes, colors, etc so that people can easily tell what accounts and posts are yours. It’s also something pretty integral to my ambitions in the media and entertainment world, because online, personal brand is everything.

I know how much me and my personal identity entangles with my work and the promotion of it. I know I’m one of the most Google-able (if not THE most Google-able) person in my casts and crews. I’m the only Bri Castellini on the internet, baby, and you can basically find my entire life story in the first few pages of search results. Plus I literally run all the social media and email accounts associated with my projects (as well as the social media for one of my friends) and at this point people are wise to that.

I’m also not ashamed to type here in my decade-old personal blog that I want to be famous. Whenever anyone asks what my plans for the future are, I say “get very famous,” and I’m only a little bit kidding (because my actual plans are to get MASSIVELY famous). With fame comes power, and with power comes the ability to be creative full time and pay my collaborators the crazy amount of money they’re absolutely worth.

I want to be famous, and therefore I spend a lot of time thinking about my brand. I can’t just be “Bri Castellini, person.” I have to be “Bri Castellini, pre-famous filmmaker and writer,” and that’s distinct, even if only subtly. This means I also have to be conscious of the kinds of projects I’m developing, because if I make things that are too dissimilar from each other, it’ll be hard to leverage my existing audience that I fought so hard to attract. Granted, that audience is pretty tiny right now, but it’s not nothing.

I’m very curious to hear what y’all think my “brand” is, so leave thoughts in the comments if you have them. In my mind, based on the projects that have been successful/gotten me my teensy audience, these are the Bri Castellini keywords I’ve come up with:

  • Millennial woman
  • Comedy
  • Profanity
  • Asexuality
  • Mental illness/anxiety/depression
  • Zombies

Looking at this list, struck me today that despite it being a pretty obvious option, I haven’t really leaned into the chubby facet of my identity. While I use my struggles with mental illness and my asexuality a lot in my work, further strengthening the “authenticity” of my brand as it relates to my creative endeavors, I haven’t really explored weight. Both Alison Sumner and Sam from ‘Sam and Pat’ are chubby because they’re me, but their weight literally never comes up in their stories. I have often wondered if this is a mistake.

You don’t see chubby women on screen very often, especially not as “women.” Chubby women are reduced (hah) to their weight, or to the undesirable comic relief character, and rarely find opportunities for lead roles or roles more complex than “fat lady trying to lose weight.” So even though it wasn’t really my intention or a part of my development process, the fact that Alison Sumner is a chubby girl with a voracious sexual appetite and a romantic arc never once mentioning her weight is kind of amazing. The only example coming immediately to mind of a chubby women on film getting a romantic arc without her weight being mentioned is Sookie from Gilmore Girls, although that show (and it’s creator Amy Sherman-Palladino’s writing in general) has its own weird issues with weight and fat people.

It’s weird that such a massive (hah) part of my own identity literally never occurs to me when writing. Maybe it’s internalized fat-phobia from having never seen fat female protagonists on screen. Who can say?

I guess the question is… is that bad? Am I doing my chubby sisters a disservice by not mentioning the weight of characters I play? Or by explicitly writing characters with a little more junk in the trunk? Or is not mentioning the weight of chubbier characters the more nuanced way to approach this and promote further positive representation? Is this a part of my brand I should be leaning into to reach my full (HAH) potential as an independent artist, or is “loud depressed asexual feminist” enough?  Am I missing out on a significant potential audience? DOES ANY OF THIS REALLY MATTER? (probably not)

I don’t know the right answer here. Boiling myself down to my base keywords is a weird way to spend an afternoon, and a weird way to think about my online activities as they service my overall ambition of incredible fame and fortune. For the record, this isn’t an invitation to weigh in (HAAAAAH ok I’m done), especially if you’re of the male persuasion, but if other similarly sized ladies have thoughts, I’d love to hear them.


Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Liaison at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. Watch Bri’s award-winning web series, Brains, HERE This post first appeared on her seriously cool blog.

Optioning My TV Series From Outside of L.A.

At last! The info all of us who haven’t yet been able to relocate to the “land of fruits and nuts,” AKA Los Angeles have been waiting for.

We know, we know. For two decades TVWriter™ has been saying, “Ya gotta live in L.A. if you want to make in showbiz.” And throughout those two decades new writers have been emailing us with the plea, “Say it ain’t so.”

Well, we aren’t going to go quite that far. You do need to be in L.A. in order to become the grand success we all dream of. But here’s a heartwarming video that gives some good news to those who are uprooting-challenged: There’s hope after all!

See more informative videos from Stage 32

Video Interview: This One isn’t Just for ‘Beetlejuice’ Fans

This TVWriter™ minion has to proclaim the truth for all to hear:

I am a huge Beetlejuice fan and think y’all should be too!!!

That’s why we’re so delighted to have found the following recent interview with Beetlejuice producer and co-writer Larry Wilson. As we’ve said a time or two before, “Watch and learn, kids. Watch and learn!”

Yeppers, this time we really mean it.

As one of the YouTube commenters put it, “Larry [Wilson] is the friend every screenwriter wants to have.”

To which Larry Brody and TVWriter™ say, “Amen.”