Update! We’ve just learned that Tello Films has become the first lesbian online network to receive an Emmy nomination! Read more HERE.
Christin Baker is founder and CEO of Tello Films, which produces and distributes high quality web series with a lesbian focus. In 2016 the team at Tello proudly took The Lexa Pledge, which is a movement created by LGBT Fans Deserve Better. The pledge was made as a response to the death of Lexa, a character on the popular series The 100. From The Lexa Pledge website: “This website was born in an effort to raise awareness and encourage media creators to stop introducing LGBT characters into narratives for the sole purpose of baiting queer viewers in, only to force them to watch people like them repeatedly die in acts of shocking violence. The consistent messaging within the media that gay love is punishable by death or tragedy needs to end and not be passed on to the next generation.”
Fortunately, Tello Films has been striving to give lesbian fans better for several years now. I spoke with Christin Baker about her work, the future of lesbian content and Tello Films’ appearance at The Dinah Shore Weekend 2017.
AE: First of all, thank you for producing lesbian content, as there is really not enough of that in general. On your website you promise audiences that you won’t feature programming that ends with the death of a lesbian character. Will you share more about that policy and what inspired it?
CB: Yes! We have had this pledge from the beginning of Tello, so when the Lexa Pledge came out it was easy for us to say yes to as it was a company policy. The “Lost and Delirious” movie ending always upset me and I never wanted to make something that spoke to so many women with an ending like that.
AE: What do you think about the mainstream lesbian content that’s currently on TV?
CB: I like that we are showing up more without having to coming out on TV. I like that the characters have a wife or partner and it’s not a big deal. I think the death trope was a huge wakeup call for the community and it’s been amazing to see this community find its power in a collective voice. I also think the show runners and networks realize that there is a community to market to and they are starting to pay attention.
AE: Why do you focus on web series rather than movies? Or do you produce both?
CB: Web series are so accessible and easy to make. When I started Tello we didn’t have a lot of money, so making shorter content was all we could afford. At that time people said viewers wouldn’t watch something on the internet that was longer than 30 seconds, so when we were making 5-10 minute episodes that was super long. We are starting to move into making movies. We have a few in development right now but those do have larger budgets.
AE: What are some of the new series on Tello?
CB: Right now Secs & EXECS is being released, and that’s a great workplace comedy. We have Pick Up Series coming out soon and in the fall Riley Parra which I’m very excited about.
AE: Tello has a Pitch to Production contest, and you mention the aim of being the “lesbian Netflix.” What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers and what you look for when choosing new talent?
CB: Make content! Don’t let anything stop you from writing and making content. Find what you love to make and make as much of it as possible as often as possible. Get your tribe of artists together and make content. It might not be great but you will learn from it and get better and better as a storyteller. I look for someone who can create with a high production value and a good story and characters I want to know more about.
AE: You’re also a storyteller, right? Are you working on any of your own projects?
CB: Yes, I’m working on a Civil War project that I’ve been working on for a long time. I’m super passionate about making it and feel like it’s getting close to being ready. I don’t really write that much, but I love directing. I directed Riley Parra and I want to do more of that.
AE: Tello Films will be at The Dinah Shore Weekend this year, I see. What will you have going on there?
CB: We love The Dinah! We will be walking the red carpet Friday night with Mindy Sterling and Stan Zimmerman who did Secs & EXECS , and Mindy was in Austin Powers. We will also be walking with Bridget McManus, Elizabeth Keener, Marem Hassler (Riley Parra) and some other friends of Tello. Saturday we have a Tello Films meet and greet from 12-2 p.m. at the Hilton lobby, and Elizabeth Keener and Rachel Paulson will be broadcasting their podcast and interviewing our actors. Please stop by and say hi!
AE: I look forward to it and will be sure to say hello. Before I let you go, I wanted to ask you about Secs and Execs because I see that Sandra Bernhard is in one of the photos. Will she be starring in the series?
CB: That’s a great series. She is not the star but she is the head of the company that it’s set in and she has a cameo. We were very lucky that she was able to come in to L.A .and shoot with us!
AE: Alright, well thank you again for speaking with me and I will see you at The Dinah!
You can subscribe to Tello Films right HERE.