Kathryn Graham Interviews Writer/Producer Bridget McManus Part 2

by Kathryn Graham

LB’S NOTE: More about how Bridget McManus got into the entertainment game and how you can too! Part 1 is HERE

(Yes, this has been a long article, but the time it takes you to read it is a very worthwhile investment in your future.)

Bridget McManus


“Don’t worry about making it perfect. Just make your art. After that make better art. And after that make even better art.” — Bridget McManus

Happy Wife, Happy LifeYou can tell it’s shot with three cameras. It’s edited by me. You can tell the graphics are not broadcast television. It’s not a television show. It’s shot in one location. It’s elementary, but it’s doing its job. Of course we could use a big budget and a beautiful set, so how are we doing it? We just make the content good.

Everybody wants to be critical. “This isn’t good. That isn’t good.” Who cares? Anybody who criticizes you isn’t doing their own art. Just do what you want, and the next project will always be better.

How do you monetize your work? It seems like you have the second season on YouTube and that hopefully interests people enough to go to Tello.

Bridget: Tello is like the lesbian Netflix. It’s subscription based. It’s 4.99 a month, and you get access to all the lesbian shows that you want.

I’ve worked at Tello Films since 2009 off and on. I joined them officially as their VP of Development a couple years ago. That’s not a paid role, I don’t get paid. I just care about projects, and I work with other artists to create things.

The great thing that Christin Baker, the president, has put into place is: all lesbians series cannot kill the lesbian main character. And if a woman identifies as a lesbian at the beginning of the series, she cannot end up with a man at the end of the series. If she’s bisexual, she can end up with a man. But if she’s lesbian, she can’t. Those are the rules of Tello.

So anybody who wants to be a distributor on Tello, if you have shot your own project, you can distribute it through them. They work out a deal with you where they give you a back-end. They give you a certain amount of money for whoever’s clicked on the stream.

I don’t get paid. I’m not a staff member. The only person who works at the company is Christin. I have my own subscription. I pay 54 dollars a year because I believe in it, I love that it’s all for lesbians. We’re a team and we have individual collaborators, and I’m always a staple there. Anybody who wants to work on projects can come to us. We do staged readings too.

For myself, I co-produce with Christin, so our deal is different because we split profits. Right now we’re not making an enormous amount of money. We make a little money, but we feed it back into other projects.

There’s a romantic comedy series that I wrote called Alice & Iza. We’re shooting it in July. The little bit of money we’ve made from Tello, I’m putting into that production. It’s going to star Guinevere Turner. I’m very excited about it.

It’s about a one night stand. Because sometimes people can be really open and intimate when they don’t know somebody, but when they get into a relationship, they get closed off.

So it’s going to be about everything that happens in one night, all of the sharing, and what happens when you never see that person again.

Sounds like you can get quickly into the meat of who the characters are.

Bridget: The couple that we have is Guinevere’s character Alice: her character is in her late forties. The other character is Iza, who is mid-twenties, and she’s African American. They have very different lives.

There’s definitely ageism in any relationship, so it’s like: “I’m supposed to be like this because I’m this age.” But, are you? When we’re naked and vulnerable and having a real human connection, who are we really? What’s something you’re willing to share with someone when you don’t have to look them in the eye tomorrow?

But it’s also going to be fun and playful. Sometimes people do weird things, sexually, with someone they’re not going to deal with ever again. It’s like the Prince song: ’26 positions in a one night stand’. You might go there because you don’t have to worry about intimacy or a lasting relationship. You can just walk away from it. But this one night together will change them.

Do you guys take volunteers to work on your projects at Tello? 

Bridget: We absolutely take volunteers. We did a ‘Pitch to Production’ panel at ClexaCon for two days where people pitched us their ideas. We worked on their pitches the first day, then they came back the second day to re-pitch. It was phenomenal to see how much their pitches changed from day one to two.

Then we gave the person whose pitched we liked most 1,500 dollars to make their own project. We’re developing it with them right now. The cool thing about Christin is that, we would grant the winner a production budget, but the people who don’t win still get a distribution deal.

Can you tell me a bit more about the winning pitch?

Bridget: The people who won are Jessie Gender and Ariel Sobel. Jessie’s trans. The series is called Chose.

Logline: Raised in a future ultra-progressive society, Ty’s gender, like everyone else, was not assigned at birth. It will be determined by a virtual reality experience where their masculine and feminine features are extrapolated into two different people and forced to fight to the death. Ty can’t wait to take on the stronger gender, but it all goes wrong when their masculinity and femininity are matched.

The first episode will be what’s going on in their head. The other episodes are what’s going on in the world.

Bridget, thank you so much for your advice and your dedication to helping people create their own art like you have.  It’s truly been a pleasure.

If you have any more questions for Bridget, or you want to check out all of the awesome stuff she’s done over the past ten years, you can find her at Bridget McManus.com!

Happy Wife, Happy Life: Season 3 comes out June 3rd. And the episodes shot at ClexaCon before a live audience will also be out this summer! So subscribe to One More Lesbian on Youtube to watch for free!

Author: Kathryn Graham

Los Angeles-based television writer, TVWriter Contributing Editor, and lover of women. e-mail: kathrynagraham@gmail.com

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