Meredith Kadlec, Vice President of Development for gay TV channel here!, talks to us about the series she's developing, the trends she's seeing in gay and lesbian movies, and why she thinks there are so few good lesbian scripts out there.
AfterEllen.com: What were you hired to do at here!?
Meredith Kadlec: Originally my time was split between looking for finished content for us to buy from film festivals, and managing the onslaught of material we were receiving as word got out that we were looking for original material.
Now I’m really just focused on development, from finding things to dealing with what comes in. I have two readers that work for me, as well as my assistant, but there’s enough work for us to double our size.
I remember the first day I was here, I asked “what’s your process for keeping track of all the scripts you receive?” and they handed me a box of scripts, and then I looked behind the couch, and there were more there. It was just a few people doing all of it themselves.
AE: What are you looking for?
MK: In the acquisitions, we’re obviously looking for great films, which can come in all shapes and sizes. In development, we’re looking to fill in gaps: we have a lot of films about the coming-out process, and we’re trying to add to that and explore different territory.
Initially we were looking for scripts that could be shot sooner than later, that didn’t need a lot of development. But that’s shifting a little, now that we have a lot of content we can use now. Now we’re willing to be a little more patient with projects that contain good ideas, but maybe need a little more work.
AE: What kinds of scripts are you getting?
MK: We’re getting a lot of scripts from established screenwriters who have that one gay script sitting on their shelf that they sent around town even a few years ago and got the response “We love it, brilliantly written, we’ll never make it.” Now those things are being dusted off and sent to us, which I love.
It’s interesting to be serving an audience that’s constantly in a state of flux. I remember the days when people used to line up around the block to see Jeffrey, but it’s really hard to get people out to see those films now because there are so many more images of gays on TV, like Queer as Folk and Will and Grace.
AE: What kinds of lesbian projects are you seeing?
MK: I’m having a harder time finding the kind of lesbian material we’re looking for. I’m not sure why that is, but my counterparts at other companies who are looking for gay material say they have the exact same experience.
There are many scripts I have on my shelves that were pitched to me as lesbian romantic comedies, and they’re really talky. A lot of lesbians have told me they’re really over that. Finding something different is really difficult. If I had something like Bound, it would have been made already—it’s such a great script, and although it’s low-budget, it's so well done you can’t tell. Something like that would be great.
A lot of the projects we’re looking at have that sort of noir, thriller feeling, where you have a lesbian or gay detective or cop, dealing with a crime to solve or insurmountable obstacles. I have found a few things like this, but there aren’t very many that truly feel different.
AE: Why do you think these kinds of projects aren’t being created?
MK: I have a theory that the perception, in studios, that lesbians won’t come out to the theater to watch movies makes it harder to get lesbian movies made than gay male ones. I think it’s taking awhile for people to catch up with the idea that venues like here! and LOGO are out there and interested in this kind of material. So I think when a writer is thinking about their career, the last thing they’re going to write is a lesbian film that has no perceived hope of being sold to a studio. But we’ve found through our pay-per-view channel that this isn't true: lesbians do watch movies and do support them, they will just do it at home, through pay-per-view and other channels.
I also think a lot of the people who are writing lesbian scripts happen to be lesbians who feel like they have a story to tell, but aren’t necessarily a writer first, and are still learning the craft of writing. So you don’t have a lot of established writers choosing to write lesbian scripts.
I have one TV show we’re developing called The Complex—the name might change—but I’ve only received a few other lesbian series—and one is a very integrated cast that includes lesbians. I don’t see a lot of people writing lesbian series. (laughing) Of course, now that I say that, I’ll probably be inundated with them!
AE: Which TV shows do you think have done a particularly good job with gay characters?
MK: Six Feet Under. They’ve brought dimension to their characters, and the writing is so good that we don’t think of it as a gay show, or a funeral show…the gay storylines blend seamlessly with the straight ones, and it all becomes one story, which I love. That would certainly be something I aspire to, but it’s very hard to do.