It's a woman's world when it comes to the work of King is a Fink Productions and on Jan. 27 its five-episode original digital series Full Out will premiere on OpenTV.
Chicago couple Julie Keck and Jessica King, or the Finks as some call them, own King is a Fink Productions where they write, direct, produce, edit, shoot, and market digital series and films. In addition, they also wrote the book "Social Media Charm School." Starting Keck and King have visited different genres for each of their projects. Their ultimate goal is to tell a good story, all while delighting and enlightening.
"We're always writing about women," said Keck, writer and producer of "Full Out." "We like to have women focused series, as well as women's focused sets and we like to tell these stories that no one else is telling. There are plenty of rom-coms, not that we have anything against rom-coms, but we want to do a little something different"
Full Out follows Claire, a closeted former ballerina, as she takes her last chance at rejoining the Chicago dance world after an injury. The cast is mostly made up of women, with Kaitlin Webster and Jess Duffy in the starring roles and also features Kate Kislingbury, Nana Visitor of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and Kaitlyn Alexander of "Carmilla."
"I hope this provokes conversation about expectations of women and the ways in which we are forced to fulfill other people's fantasies and illusions," said King, director and editor of "Full Out."
The Web series was shot in Chicago and features local dancers, actors, and crew. Dancers from Chicago Dance Crash, Aerial Dance Chicago and other dance companies are included within the cast.
According to King is a Fink Productions' website, Full Out "celebrates artistry, hard work, passion, and the Chicago dance community." Viewers can catch an episode of the web series every two weeks.
"I think women and especially young women, actually all women, will be able to see situations that even if they're not dancers, they have experienced these things," said Keck. "I just think there are some situations that aren't in any other television shows. There are difficult conversations between lovers, there's difficult conversations between old friends and new friends and there are difficult conversations between women of different generations. They're not there sitting there and talking about men."
"Right now there's so much talk about the lack of female driven stories, the lack of female directors and the lack of female writers that are at the helm of any particular show or film," said King. "For us it's just like 'stop taking about it and start making stuff.' Partly, I make films and series because I can't stand to watch so much of what exists because I don't think there are authentic female characters that have agency and I want to see content that is about women with agency because I am a woman with agency and there's a whole host of problems that come from being a woman with agency. You get punished and you get excluded. We need to tell those stories, so those kind of things can get talked about instead of just being the secret norm."
Duffy, a Chicago freelance dancer, and Webstera dancer with Chicago Dance Crash, dance teacher and Full Out choreographermake their series acting debuts.
Webster, along with Lauren Warnecke, were Full Out's consulting producers. The storyline drew from both their experiences within the queer dance world. While working on the project, Keck and King said it was surprising to learn that the dance world is incredibly heteronormative.
"As a straight dancer, I've never faced the discrimination first hand; not in the way that it is explored in 'Full Out,'" said Duffy. "However, there is a heteronormativity that is propagated in concert dance that I think does not support the LGBT community. It's the over-masculine men and the over-effeminate woman. The big-strong man lifting the tiny lady and it's rare that you see two men or two women dancing together. Most romantic duets seen are between men and women. I know I've had friends experience discrimination to not be effeminate as a man or for appearing not feminine enough as women."
"As far as the dance community in Chicago, I never felt it [being queer] was a burden or I wasn't accepted for it," said Webster. "Sometimes it crops up when I feel like 'why do we always do shows portraying a romance between a woman and a man,' 'why do we always have to be partnered by men.' It feels so heteronormative. I'm okay with that occasionally, but when it's 100 percent of the time, it's frustrating. For me, I feel like growing up there were no queer lady role models in dance at all until I got to college and I had a couple professors, but for me, if there are any younger queers watching this or other dance queers or art queers, I just think it's just good to be out and know there are more of us."
For more information, visit KingIsAFink.com/full/. To watch Full Out, visit WeAreOpen.tv .