Far Outby Anabel Unity Sale
Have you ever watched a TV show about lesbians and been disappointed? Utterly disappointed. Perhaps you've thought, "I could do better than that". Faye Hughes has. So frustrated was the 28-year old theatre director by the lack of quality television featuring lesbians that she wrote her own series, "Far Out".
A pilot of the London-based drama about nine lesbian and bisexual women is currently being shown online with a special screening happening later this month. Here she tells LoveGirls all about the online drama she wrote, directed and stars in.
What prompted you to create "Far Out"?
Four yeas ago I was channel flicking when I saw "Staying In", a show about a man and woman who are flatmates in London. The episode I happened to turn on had a lesbian couple move in next door. The jokes were painful and I was offended beyond belief. My licence fee is paying for this and it's offensive and if those were jokes about people of particular cultural or religious background that would not be allowed and yet it is deemed to be completely acceptable because they are lesbians. I thought 'fuck it, this is not good enough and I'm not prepared to accept this and I have to find a way of doing my show and I don't want someone else to produce it because that is what they'll do to it'.
How were you inspired?
Everything I have every written that I've felt is worth something has come out of a frustration at the lack of accurate representation of gay and bisexual women, and women in general. TV constantly explores motherhood and the wife that has been cheated on but it ignores a whole section of society, and when it is touched upon it seems to be politically correct to make lesbian jokes. I wanted something that my straight friends, my colleagues and my parents could look at that felt a little bit truer to the lives of the women that I know and it wasn't sensationalised and it wasn't glossy and didn't put us in a box. I wanted a wide diverse group of women who were a little bit more like the women I know. I started writing and I had a series within a weekend.
You took it to the BBC Writersroom didn't you?
I'm a theatre director and writer since moving out of acting and I had this script for TV and I didn't know what to do with it. I sent it off to them, and was really positive about it, and they sent it back eight weeks later with a little card all about the Writersoom. That was it. If they don't pick something up they don't make comment, I think that is a legal requirement. It was quite disappointing. I hadn't expected to get a letter saying 'this is wonderful, here's a £150,000 for every episode, go and make it'. It went in a boxfile with a load of other scripts that sit under my bed and I didn't think about it for 18 months.
What did you do next?
I rang a lot of people in the film industry and spoke to a number of production companies. I went to an investor who had seen my theatre work and was aware of our company and its ethos and said I want to make this. He read the script and said I could have some money. It was the end of last year and it was signed off in April and we started filming in June. We got funding for the pilot, which is spilt up over three episodes. The average pilot on TV costs £150,000 and this cost less than a quarter of that. There are six full episodes including the pilot and each one lasts around 35-40 minutes. Now we are doing this online we will split each episodes into two so there'll be 10 more episodes to come.
What's your sexuality?
I'm bisexual and currently in a relationship with a woman. Apparently I've been branded 'lezzie film director' by The London Paper; I didn't know the 'lezzie' in the 'lezzie film director' meant me or the product! [laughs]
Is this what inspired you to write the character Kat who is bi?
No, although there is a lack of representation of the bisexual community and the hope with Kat is that she is not some very troubled human being concerned about her sexuality who is not able to make a choice. She just is bisexual and that is it. She is what she is. I do feel there is a lot of hostility towards the bisexual community within the lesbian community and that's someone I wanted to touch on in the bigger picture in "Far Out".
Where did you find the actresses?
Some of them I studied with at drama school, some are long-standing friends, some I have directed before and the rest we auditioned.
Are any of the actresses lesbian or bisexual?
I don't think it's right for me to say, but all I will say is that we have far more than are gay than aren't, and a lot of the one that you think aren't actually are!
Was it important for you to find a cast that has an understanding of lesbian and bi issues?
It doesn't matter what an actor is doing or who they are playing, it is an actor's job to understand it. There is no reason why a straight or bisexual person can't understand a lesbian relationship. It was really clear from the auditions who got it and who didn't and when we put out our casting call for actors we used references such as 'the scene' and names of gay people in the media. That way the actors knew what they were playing.
Did you draw on your friends' experiences for what the characters do?
No, but people who have seen bits of it have rung me up and said 'that's you!'. There are bits of me in every character but more than anything I really enjoy writing and developing really normal situations because you find out more about the person from something ordinary rather than overly-dramatic. Adele, my best friend in the world, spills everything down her so we wrote in that Grace does that all the time and is really clumsy. The storylines are pretty universal, everybody has had feelings for someone who doesn't have feelings for them. Everybody's had conservations, like Kat and Jen, where they say 'are you my girlfriend?' at some point. This is what I wanted to show rather than a big, sensationalised story. I made a conscious decision to write reality as I see it and as my friends experience it.
What do you want to do next with "Far Out"?
We want to get more funding.
The Screening takes place on Sunday 4th October in Central London and the first part of the pilot is available to watch online now! You can find out more about Far Out here: http://www.farouttv.co.uk
Take a look at the trailer and leave us a comment letting us know what you think!