It's same-sex in a different city in the newly launched Web series "She's in London."
UK-based production company Planet M and Chicago-based production company and subscription streaming service tello Films collaborated on the project that takes viewers across the pond to contemporary London to see the love, sex friendship and drama within LBQ life.
The six-episode, weekly Web series, which launched Sept. 27, is the first LBQ Web series to come out of the United Kingdom. The premise centers on a group of women trying to save an iconic LBQ Soho bar from closing. The storyline follows the bar's staff and patrons as well as their fight against a mainstream property developer who aims to carry out the gentrification of Soho. Simultaneously, in this story, a love triangle forms when one of the characters sleeps with her best friend's ex.
"I would love the London community to really think, 'yes, there's bits of me or bits of the scene I understand and it reflects me and I'm really excited about that and I want to tell people about that,'" said "She's in London" creator/screenwriter and Planet M co-founder/director Katie Bennett-Hall. "I'd love the international audience to go, 'London is awesome.' This is the first project out of the UK, we want to see what comes next, but mostly what I would love is for people to come forward and say, 'I want to make a Web series too, how do we do that?'"
Bennett-Hall described the Web series as a reflection of the real LBQ life in London, while being fictional. The project, the Londoner said, is "made by us, [made] for us."
"I think if we want to see it out there, no one else is making it, so we need to make it ourselves," said Bennett-Hall of the need for this project." We're always hearing, and this is another reason why we started the production company [Planet M Productions], from LBQ women on the scene, 'I don't see myself on TV, none of the shows reflect me, I'm not there, I'm invisible. ' The only way we're going to get visibility is if we do it ourselves. And if we do it ourselves, it's going to be the most reflective and the most representative and enjoyable. The process of making stuff is enjoyable too. "
Bennett-Hall came up with the idea for She's in London about nine years ago. Her initial idea has been shaped through collaboration with "London" producer Kat Holmes and director Stuart Dunlop and has evolved to keep relevance. The characters, Bennett-Hall said, have remained driven by her own personal experiences and resemble some people in her own life, like her best friend.
"It very much reflects that rebound, post-breakup finding yourself, exploring, experimenting, not making the wisest decisions, growth phase and self discovery," Bennett-Hall said. "Personally, that was an interesting time and a time in my own life I really needed to go through. Luckily, shortly after that I met Naomi, who eventually became my wife. I think you have to go through those exciting rebellious, interesting , unsettled, chaotic phases to meet different people and find the people you might want to settle down with."
The cast features MIRI, Clare Hopes, Joanna Ludlow, Kerry Leigh, Lauren Karl, Rachael Cooksey, Natasha Rebuck, Jake Graf, Adwoa-Alexsis Mintah and Sarah Lavender.
"Yes, there's been an explosion in LGBT characters on screen, particularly in the U.S., but it's still not a normalized experience for many young people and it's really what it's mainly about for me," said Holmes, who also wrote and produced the 2013 LGBT festival circuit hit "Submerge." "I think we tried to have a real mix of characters and we tried to make them as three-dimensional as we could within the constraints of what's effectively only a 48-50-minute production."
"It's really great to have a strong, really diverse, really kind of different from each other female cast that really complement each other and have a great chemistry," said Bennett-Hall.
The Web series' soundtrack also features music from LGBTQ musicians.
"We're really pleased to work with our own talent, to showcase their music and mix it up and match it really well to the storyline," said Bennett-Hall. "It's just fantastic to bring everything around making the series is about utilizing the community. Also, there's cameos from a couple of LBQ radio shows. So, we really tried on a multimedia level to bring different contributors to the content."
"I think that it's definitely a key mission to showcase UK LBQ life to the U.S.," Holmes said. "Because Tello's our platform and everything on there is American, it's about bringing a bit of diversity to the audiences. I think the key plot about the gentrification of these inner city spaces and the pushing out of LGBT cafes and bars is a really important theme for me. It's not just happening in London."
To learn more and watch episodes of She's in London, visit bit.ly/SILwebseries.