sorta kinda maybe yeah: meet the collective revolutionizing the female experience in film
Meet the all-girl film collective on a mission to change how we see women.
From period references to masturbation jokes, Sorta Kinda Maybe Yeah is challenging the film industry's representation of women. The brain-child of three best friends -- Laura Kirwan-Ashman, Aya Arden-Clarke, and Charlotte Lowdell -- SKMY is first and foremost a filmmaking collective. But after putting pen to paper, and camera to hand, it's also the name of the group's new guerrilla style web series which explores the many facets of being a woman (when you're young, broke, and living in London). The result is a ridiculous collection of musings on relationships, female friendship, social awkwardness, nightmare neighbors, and the odd identity crisis. After watching its first two episodes, we catch up with Sorta Kinda Maybe Yeah to talk all things girl.
What's the story behind Sorta Kinda Maybe Yeah?
Sorta Kinda Maybe Yeah was something that Laura has been using for years; it started off as her Tumblr name. When it came to the collective and the web series, it seemed suitable as it sums up that feeling of figuring out who you are and what you're doing.
What do you see as the main problem within the film industry?
It's the same things that you see in so many industries and aspects of society: nepotism and the privileged having the advantage of being able to do as many unpaid internships as it takes, for example, or benefitting from connections. And then you get a lack of diversity as a result because the same types of people from the same kinds of education and backgrounds make the decisions and the content, and hand out the money. So it can feel like this palace with locked gates to those who don't fit that mold.
How do you intend on challenging this?
There are basically two ways: find an alternative route outside the industry or change things from the inside. So we're taking the alternative route by doing it ourselves and hopefully that results in us, one day, being able to get into the industry where we can influence and bring about change. With SKMY we have been connecting with other like-minded individuals and collectives; we want to continue growing and shining a light on this amazing DIY/self-publishing community that's flourishing.
Can you tell us a bit about your new web series?
It's a six part comedy-drama series about two best friends and their mysterious new housemate navigating the muddy waters of identity, female friendship, and millennial malaise. We made it over the past year with zero-budget, limited time, people, and equipment. We drew upon our own personal experiences for the characters and the scripts, because we wanted to create something that represents our lives, the highs and the lows, and hopefully others will be able to relate to it as well.
How do you feel about gendered terms such as "funny-woman" or "comedienne"?
They feel a little outmoded and unnecessary. It's like how any woman working in creative practices will always have the term "female" shoved in front of the term "director," or "artist," or "musician." On the one hand, it's good in terms of representation that these women are being highlighted as examples for younger women and girls. But it would be great to get to a point where no one feels that your gender is necessary to point out.
You will inevitably be compared to programs like Broad City and Girls; is this something you want, or would you prefer to exist outside the category of funny and truthful portrayal of the female experience?
We're big fans of those shows and they've obviously been important in paving the way. We looked at the great female-centric stuff that was coming out of the US and we felt like the UK was lagging behind, so we wanted to fill the gap. It's interesting how whenever something female-driven comes out, it's automatically compared to the few other examples out there; it just goes to show how few and far between these shows are.
What is it you want to convey about the female experience?
The female experience or the idea that "female" is a genre is problematic. The female experience is not singular; it is broad and endlessly varied. Our experiences are not going to be relatable to everyone who identifies as female, we just want to offer up our own stories and throw our hat into the ring. In terms of topics that the web series explores, female friendship came to the forefront as we were building our own friendships as we were building SKMY. It is as complex and emotionally turbulent as the most intense romantic relationships, if not more so. When you add identity crises, social awkwardness, nightmare neighbors, and tight living quarters to the mix, you get situations that bring out the best and worst in people.
Who or what inspires you?
We get inspiration from the creative processes of others, where the successful people we admire started out and how they got to where they are now. We love examining that process of learning and honing your craft, of making mistakes, exploring methodologies, alternative routes, hearing people talk about their journeys and what they've learned.
What do you think mainstream media misses when it comes to representing women?
This is a complex question; there are countless books written on this kind of stuff. But maybe the main thing is not allowing women to represent themselves enough. Rose McGowan said something about how she realized that nearly all the words she had ever spoken as an actress were written by men and how messed up that is.
Do you worry about isolating yourselves as an all-girl collective?
No. Countless industries have been boys' clubs for decades and that was just accepted as the norm. As soon as something is "female only," everyone notices and questions it. We've always enjoyed working with women. We're not anti-men -- it's ridiculous that people assume that. It's just a different way of working that challenges male-dominance within the industry. We are pushing to create opportunities and open the door for girls and women, that is our priority, but we do work with men and have had help from men along the way.
Text Tish Weinstock