Guinevere Turner is a successful actress, screenwriter and producer but that doesn’t mean she’s rolling in cash.
“Which is so funny and ironic,” she says. “I do feel like one might think I have gotten rich of what I’ve done so far. It’s a really difficult thing to telegraph elegantly. It’s a common misconception.”
But Guinevere says even if she did have tons of money, she’d still probably have to crowdfund her new feature film Creeps.
“I think it’s kind of now or never with this particular model with how to get a film made that works,” Guinevere said. “My little fingers are itching to make a movie with great lesbian characters. Like we haven’t had a really good juicy one in quite some time, you know? Not an American one.”
Guinevere has launched an Indiegogo campaign for Creeps, the first feature film she will direct. The movie follows “Mona and Freddy, two best friends who decide to quit drinking and doing drugs for a week so they can have great skin for a party.”
“First of all, it’s a friendship between a gay man and lesbian which I feel like is a hugely underrepresented that’s very real in real life,” Guinevere said. “I think a lot of people are going to like what that dynamic is. But more importantly I feel like that the flawed character is the new hero—The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Nurse Jackie, Weeds, Californication, Girls. All of those are nightmare characters but you’re with them anyway. That’s sort of the zeitgeist of who we’re following and who we care about. And honestly, Patrick Bateman, the lead character in American Psycho—not exactly what you’d call a sympathetic character, but you’re with him. I mean, I feel like you’re actually nervous for him when he’s about to get caught even though he’s a serial killer. If it’s properly written and properly directed and properly performed, you ‘re with them because they’re human and they’re interesting and you see your own flaws in them.”
Guinevere wrote the screenplay for American Psycho with director Mary Harron. The two also worked together on The Notorious Bettie Page. But perhaps the film Guinevere is most famous for her work on in the lesbian community is the 1994 lesbian film Go Fish. Almost 20 years later, Guinevere is less concerned with what she calls “the burden of representation” when it comes to gay women.
“I really felt that when we made Go Fish—we just want to be happy and perfect,” Guinevere said. “But now I feel the opposite pressure which is to show we’re also human, we’re also assholes, we’re also messes and all of that. We can all relax now—everybody’s cool with the fact that we’re people.”
In her pre-Go Fish days, Guinevere was a student at Sarah Lawrence College where she would go to any film screening happening on campus to “escape whatever I was supposed to be doing.”
“I really just walked into a screening and not knowing what it was. I was just trying to hide,” Guinevere said. “At Sarah Lawrence, you’d run into your teachers all the time so there was good reason to hide. And the movie that was playing was Desert Hearts and I had no idea. I was like ‘Oh My god, this is totally a lesbian movie!’ I was sort of not quite out, had a girlfriend without anyone knowing I was gay, blah blah blah. I looked around the theater and I’m like ‘Oh my god, those guys are not best friends! They are gay people!’ Every lesbian on the campus was sitting in the theater. I could barely watch the movie, I was so focused on who was in the room.”
This kind of excitement and gathering has suffered in the last two decades. LGBT films and indie films are more available than ever, with movies coming out on demand the same day they are released in theaters.
“That’s the kind of experience we’re not going to have if we watch it on iTunes or VOD of whatever it is,” Guinevere said. “It’s anti-community building and more importantly it’s anti-girlfriend finding. When people say, ‘How do I meet women?’ I always say the best place to meet—well my biggest advice is do what you love and people will be drawn to it and those will be people that appreciate you. But the shorter version is go to gay film festivals. Find all the lesbian movies in the catalog and go to all of those screenings and I guarantee you’ll see someone you at least want to make out with.”
But Guinevere also said people staying home to watch movies affects what kind of films getting made, which is why her Indiegogo campaign is necessary.
“I think now more than ever independent films are no longer showing in movie theaters and the whole landscape of all we watch things in general,” Guinevere said. “And especially the way the economy is—people are less likely to take risks. Indie films, gay films, they’re well loved but they’re not—they are not historically moneymakers. Movie theaters are something that’s dying out unless you want to go see Avatar. Look at Concussion, which is a lesbian movie at the moment, my friend Rose Troche produced. You can watch it on iTunes the day it came out in the theater. Why would anyone go to the theater when they watch watch it on iTunes, pause it, go check their emails, and get another glass of wine?”
Another thing that has changed since Guinevere made Go Fish is that the other lesbian filmmakers of her era don’t seem to be making “lesbian films” anymore.
“Kim Peirce and Jamie Babbit and Angela Robinson and Rose Troche: Those are all friends of mine and none of them are really making lesbian films,” Guinevere said. “In Creeps the woman main character is a lesbian and almost all the supporting characters are lesbians but I feel like even calling it a lesbian film is a little antiquated. But maybe I’m just delusional and it’s a lesbian film and I don’t know it. I just feel like the term ‘lesbian film’ now has some baggage and it’s not necessarily positive.”
CREEPS will be a dark comedy, which she says is something we haven’t seen in a lesbian-themed film in a while.
“It will be funny,” she said. “I feel like there’s a lot of lesbian movies that we have had in the past and recent past and distant past are either straight up romantic comedy or they’re sad and dramatic in some way. It has the tone of American Psycho. Tone-wise it’s the kind of movie we don’t have. Someone who doesn’t want to see another ‘lesbian film’ might like this film.”
Guinevere hadn’t watched her first lesbian film Go Fish in years, until Outfest put on a screening last spring.
“[Producer] Rose [Troche] and I were sitting there watching the film in the audience that we hadn’t watched in years and we were just laughing so hard we actually ejected ourselves from the theater because we were being disruptive at our own screening,” she said. “Because of what we’re wearing, the fact that my character is constantly making fun of the other characters’ style but what I’m wearing is so ’90s and so ridiculous.”
But she would still recommend Go Fish to a young lesbian, “because the spirit of Go Fish is there’s a community, there’s love to be had, dinner parties to be had.” Unfortunately she feels like it’s a little outdated in other ways: “I feel like a young person would be like ‘Um, that’s not even a cordless phone.’”
Some lesbian films Guinevere has enjoyed: All Over Me (“It’s so heartbreaking and sweet, sort of a tragic lesbian movie, a sad lesbian story.”) and By Hook or By Crook (“That movie is so cool and great and doesn’t get talked about enough.”) She’s also a newly converted Skins fan. (She loves the “dyke drama.”)
Because things have changed for lesbian visibility on television and film, Guinevere also finds some pleasure in not having to watch everything lesbian that comes on the screen.
“We’ve come a long way in terms how lesbians are represented. I watched a couple of the episodes of The Fosters and I was like ‘OK, like it’s a little vanilla for me, so I’m not going to watch but I’m happy it’s on TV,’” Guinevere said. “But if you would have told me when I was in my twenties, that there would be a show on TV about a lesbian couple and their family and I would choose not to watch it, I would have been like, ‘WHAT?’ My eyes would have been glued to it like, ‘What’s going to happen!?’ Isn’t that amazing? I think that’s amazing.”
So far Guinevere’s Indiegogo campaign has raised close to $25,000 and has 25 days left. Perks include a Guinevere-compiled playlist, seeing your name in bathroom wall graffiti in the film or even an executive producing credit, if you have $10,000 to give. But even if you can only throw five dollars her way, you’ll be contributing to a film that will have some dyke drama of its own.
“Two of the supporting characters are Puerto Rican twins that are lesbians and one of them has been dumped by her girlfriend who then goes out with the other one, which is I think the ultimate in dyke drama,” Guinevere said. “But finding a Puerto Rican twins that look dykey that are actors, I’m really giving myself a casting challenge there. But it has to be, they have to be twins. I was thinking, ‘Am I shooting myself in the foot by doing that? Can I use one actor and do the craziness of having one actor play two characters?’ It’s my first feature—I don’t want to give myself that big a challenge.”