Ingrid Jungermann: “I’m fascinated by the phobias within our community”

Ingrid Jungermann is the creator of F to 7th, a homoneurotic web series, and co-creator of The Slope, about superficial, homophobic lesbians. Jungermann is a Brooklyn-based writer, director, and producer, and a thesis student at NYU: Tisch School of the Arts in the Graduate Film Program. F to 7th just wrapped its first season, and the hope is that Jungermann will find a way to fund a second season. In the meantime, I’ve started watching reruns.

Maybe it’s Jungermann’s humor, or the relatability of her characters. Maybe it’s the writing; dialogue concerned with frankness rather than political correctness. Maybe it’s Jungermann’s disregard for the expectation that lesbians should instinctively understand every queer identity, and practice. Maybe it’s the way Jungermann communicates some of the prejudices she perceives in the lesbian community. Whatever it is, Jungermann embraces her own awkwardness, and finds the comedy in a community that, like any other, breeds its own ignorance, and sometimes forgets to be self-reflexive.

In a style typically reserved for straight stand-up comics, Jungermann allows herself to discard the preconception that lesbians privilege social issues above comedy. Instead, she interprets her own experiences through a lens of hilarious absurdity, allowing her characters the freedom to make mistakes, and say inappropriate things, rather than using them as bastions of political correctness. Here’s hoping for Jungermann’s speedy return in a second season of F to 7th.

AfterEllen.com: How did you conceive of F to 7th?
Ingrid Jungermann:
It’s a spin-off of The Slope, which I co-created with Desiree Akhavan. We broke up half-way through the second season; it was a really difficult road back for both of us. When I was able to let go of that project, I realized I still had a lot to say. In a way, it started as closure for The Slope, and represented a new beginning for me. While that show centered around a couple’s experience together, I wasn’t able to really delve into my personal experiences as a gay woman, as a 35-year-old, as a Park Sloper, as a cynical idealist, as a person who wasn’t able to make relationships work, as a frustrated member of the LGBTQ community.

AE: How different has the process of making F to 7th been, compared to The Slope?
IJ:
The Slope was inspiring but it was also difficult to co-create something. I’ve done it since then, but I’ve realized I’m a very insular filmmaker. I don’t show a lot of people my work during the writing or editing process, and those I do show are people I have grown to trust. Some artists get inspired by input, but my input is observing and processing those observations through one filter: my own. That means I make more mistakes, but it also means I can truly define my own voice and perspective. Of course, it could also mean I’m an insecure control freak. Take your pick.

AE: Which episode of F to 7th has received the most controversial response?
IJ:
I would think “Interchangeable” or “Gowanus.” I’m not sure because there hasn’t been a backlash yet. “Interchangeable” is really only controversial because of the visuals, but I was hoping “Gowanus” would raise some eyebrows and start a conversation. I’m fascinated by the phobias within our community. Lots of gays don’t like lesbians or vice-versa, bisexuals are supposedly a joke and transgender people are somehow a threat. While I had to open my mind about the trans movement, I still have never understood the hypocrisy of those who have been judged doing the judging.

AE: How big of a role would you say Brooklyn – specifically Park Slope – plays in F to 7th?
IJ:
Park Slope has been a little bit of a diva to work with. She shows up late on set, always wants a Diet Coke and won’t speak to the crew. But I guess that’s the price I had to pay to have her in the show.

AE: If you had to describe the quintessential Park Slope lesbian, what would she look like? How would she speak? What would she be doing?
IJ:
She’s around 40. Life partner by her side. Edits for a living. Has an IRA and owns a coop. Only hangs out with straight white guys in their 40s. She wears black North Face gear. Right about now, she’s thinking about having a baby and buying a second home in Woodstock.

AE: Where in Park Slope might one find the highest density of lesbians, in your opinion? Is it the dog park?
IJ:
Yeah, the dog park is a good one. Gorilla Coffee. Sun ‘n’ Bloom. Babeland. Of course, Ginger’s, but that’s cheating. I’m not really creative with my hang-outs. I tend to like to go to the same places. God, I’m boring, aren’t I?

AE: Have any particular jokes from F to 7th been misinterpreted by viewers or critics?
IJ:
So far, so good. But I think the show is offensive to some people. Those people aren’t my audience, so if they’re not watching, they’re not criticizing. I do think that it’s hard to slam a show when you’re making it for $6500 and you’re not earning any money from it. Also, and I don’t agree with this, gay audiences seem to be pretty forgiving. I wish that would change.

AE: What do you mean when you say, “I don’t agree with this, gay audiences seem to be pretty forgiving?”
IJ:
Any minority audience is forgiving because we have to be when we’re first getting started. But now that things are out there (and I do recognize we’re lucky to be living in this era), it’s time to criticize. We should be harder on each other. Who better to be critical than someone who understands where you’re coming from? Some queer art is just plain bad and I think a lot of us are frustrated by that. It’s time we challenge ourselves and stop thinking lesbian sex or high drama is lesbian art. If I see one more coming out or coming of age or ohgodihavemyfirstlesbiancrush movie, I’m going to go hetero. It’s like we’re stuck in time with our sense of art and humor and humility. Rise up, sisters.

AE: What sort of creative background did you have when you started making web series?
IJ:
I’ve been writing for a long time. My first play was called “Velvet Rose.” I wrote it when I was 15 – it was about a hooker who discovers one of her clients is her dad. I have no idea how I came up with that because I’ve never slept with my dad. Some people might think I have because I’m a lesbian. I’m here to officially say I’m living proof that you can be a lesbian without having been molested. I digress. Here’s the short version: theater>casting in film>two short films>NYU Grad Film>more short films>THE SLOPE>F To 7th.

AE: Would you say you approached the making of F to 7th much differently than you did The Slope?
IJ:
I wanted to shoot all at once with the same crew, so we shot six days. I also wanted to edit all at once, so we have been in post since December. For The Slope, we shot when we could and edited when we could. I’m a little OCD, so it’s better for me to schedule everything and have an organized launch. I also wanted to cast people who either had names or attracted a new audience so I could pull in new viewers. Also, Jason, the producer and Jenny An, our Social Media Manager, have really been plugging away at getting the word out, so that’s been instrumental.

AE: Will there be a next season of F to 7th?
IJ:
I hope so. I’ve exhausted my Kickstarter backers, so I want to find funding privately or via grants. I’ve already written outlines for eight new episodes, but I won’t do another season if I can’t find funding that isn’t equivalent to begging.

AE: I read last year that you would like to work with Jane Lynch, and Tegan and Sara. Are those still goals? Are there any new celebrities you would like to work with?
IJ:
I think Tegan and Sara was Desiree’s idea, but I would be honored to work with them. Jane Lynch for sure. Jodie Foster now that she’s sort of kind of halfway out. That might be the title of that one: “Halfway Gay.” Ryan Gosling could play my Navy EOD brother, who’s fully tattooed and basically lives in Afghanistan now. They have the same abs.

AE: I suppose there’s a tendency to expect queer work to reflect a broad spectrum of identities, and at the risk of falling into that trend, I’m curious about whether or not you have any plans for broaching trans material?
IJ:
Absolutely. “Gowanus” is an episode exploring the lesbian transphobia problem. If I got a TV show, that conversation would definitely play a role in the show.

AE: If you could take the show in any direction next season, what would that direction be? (Let’s pretend for a moment that the constraints of time and money don’t exist.)
IJ:
I’d like to play with the format — maybe build in more of an arc, although I don’t want to go over 5 minutes for each episode. I’d like to explore more of a through-line — for the TV show, my character is a personal trainer, so adding a career into the equation might be an interesting idea. I don’t think web series should follow the TV format though — I think episodes should be short and sweet and people care less about the arc and more about the writing and acting.

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