@ClexaCon Film Festival BIFL Interview ( @BIFLseries )from @kleffnotes

I had the opportunity to chat with a group of people from the web series BIFL. After circulating online as a script and releasing a teaser trailer, this year they will premiering the first three episodes of the first season at ClexaCon. I had fallen in love with the script and was excited to get time to talk with Kelsey O’Regan, creator, Amber Rivera, producer, Daren Taylor, director, and Anisha Adusumilli, the actor who plays Jill. As this is a four person interview I have divided them into four labeled sections instead of color coding them.

Kelsey O’ Regan

Could you introduce yourselves to our readers?

Hi! I wrote the thing! I’ve been very firmly cemented in fanfiction for the better part of a decade (KelseyO on AO3!), but I now write for QueerQuality.org and have a Google Doc full of other original script ideas I’m developing. My name is Kelsey O’Regan and I can’t turn my brain off.

In your own words how would you describe BIFL?

I think the great thing about BIFL is, it’s whatever you need it to be. It’s been a way for me to have control when I feel powerless, a source of love and friendship when I feel isolated, and over time it’s evolved into this entire tangible community of people who believe in and support each other. BIFL is your BFFL; it’s a love letter to anyone who feels alone in the world.

You have been working on BIFL for a while, what was the process that led to the creation of the series?

I developed the concept for NaNoWriMo 2014, but then being on set for my friend’s indie feature got me into film and Carmilla got me into serialized narratives and things kind of changed course. I spent about a year writing the first draft, and every year since then workshopping, re-reading, and re-writing–not worrying so much about what I’d do with it, but just focusing on the story I wanted to tell. Eventually Amber, who I’d met at a fan convention, reached out about some friends wanting to make stuff, and she wanted to show them my script if I was cool with that. I said sure.

What inspired BIFL?

As a queer female writer, it mostly came down to a need for both community and creative control. I was done trusting mainstream series to not kill off bi and lesbian characters, and growing equally sick of the nuances I found most interesting being glossed over or ignored. But I also just craved a narrative space where I could spend time with characters who represent different parts of me, explore various mental health struggles, and just breathe for a while.

What was it like bringing your work to life and how much, if anything change, as you worked on the project?

Watching this whole journey progress has been one of the most surreal experiences of my life. I’m still not used to people besides myself caring about this project, let alone enough to produce or direct or even star in it, and I have to express how proud I am of the crew we ended up with.

As far as changes, I couldn’t be more excited about the script’s transformation. Going into pre-production I knew there was lots of work to be done, and maybe I underestimated how much; but being able to break down every scene and character arc, to dig into existing content to find new moments that should’ve been there from the beginning… it was difficult and terrifying, but also maybe the most rewarding creative challenge I’ve ever faced. Daren and Amber made our conversations such a fun, safe, and encouraging space and I’ll be forever grateful for their help in discovering the best version of BIFL.

What do you hope viewers take away from BIFL?

Familiarity. Solidarity. Visibility. I’d love for everyone to feel like BIFL has been there the whole time, and like these characters are experiencing life right beside them, rather than on a screen in front of them.

How did you become involved with the project?

I wrote it!

What were some of your favorite on set moments?

I think a lot about this one Chloe moment that happens near the end of the first episode–we had to change it at the last minute, so Daren sat me down with Andrea in the makeup room and she and I spent about 30 seconds figuring out a replacement bit that still makes me laugh. And there’s a scene where one character confronts another character about something, and it happens in a bedroom so I wasn’t able to watch, but sitting on the floor in the hallway and listening to the yelling kind of made the scene even funnier–I just imagined I was one of the housemates eavesdropping on their nonsense.

What are you most looking forward to at ClexaCon?

One of the greatest privileges in the world as a creator has to be the opportunity to watch your intended audience watch your thing, and the fact that I’m getting to have that experience with my very first project is utterly insane.

Are there any other projects you’ve been involved with that you’d like to share with our readers?

Nope! BIFL is my first.

Where can readers keep up with you online? 

Twitter: @goneawayawhile

Instagram: @goneawayawhile

QueerQuality.org

BIFL_Ep1_JillSarah_ClothingStore (1)

Amber Rivera:

In your own words how would you describe BIFL?
BIFL is community and unconditional love

What do you hope viewers take away from BIFL?
I hope the audience can connect with our characters in a way that they maybe haven’t connected with other characters before. Finding yourself in media nowadays is difficult, especially when you haven’t even figured yourself out yet. Hopefully our audience can find pieces of our characters to relate to and know that all of us who were part of this project are here for them whenever they need it.

How did you become involved with the project?
I know our writer Kelsey and she sent me a script just to get my feedback on it, and after reading it I immediately asked her what she wanted to do with it because I knew she had something amazing! I asked if I could give it to a friend of mine who directs, she approved, and now, here we are!

As a producer, what were some of the challenges and successes you ran into while working on the project?
One of the biggest challenges I remember us facing was finding the best people for each role. Whether it was cast or crew, Daren and I wanted to make damn sure that we were finding the best people. Our people. Those who believed in the project as much as we did – and we sure as hell found those people, even if it was last minute for some of them!

Our crowdfunding campaign is the biggest success of all. We had a group of 10 or 11 of us who were all reaching out and pushing this project but at the end of the day there was always doubt about whether or not we would hit our goal of 50K. And with good reason! But we all persevered and made it happen because of all the people who believed in US. That last day of our campaign we were all so nervous and giddy at the same time. I remember we were about $300 away from our goal with about 4 or 5 hours left and them BAM, someone donated that last $300 and we hit it! With a snap of a finger someone pushed us over the finish line and it was the most amazing feeling

Had you worked on producing a web series previously?

I’ve worked on a web series as an Editor and Assistant Editor but not as a Producer. This was actually my first producing job! The creative process was so fun to be part of and Daren and I always saw eye to eye on everything. Literally everything. Whether it was the pre-pro and development process or after we filmed into Post-Production. I really felt we were all part of a team and we all had our roles to play. Everyone was giving 110% day in and day out and I want to produce more things now that I’ve gotten a taste.

What were some of your favorite on set moments?
I think some of my favorite moments were when our cast and crew would joke around with each other in between takes or at lunch. Just watching everyone interact with each other was so fulfilling and fun and it made things go so much smoother. You never knew when you’d get a weird look sent your way that was followed by a smile 🙂

What are you most looking forward to at ClexaCon?
I’ve been to the previous 2 years of Clexacon so I’ve seen how it’s grown and I think I’m most excited about seeing our cast and crew experience it for the first time. Especially since we have a panel and we get to answer questions and share stories of our time on set. It will be amazing.

Are there any other projects you’ve been involved with that you’d like to share with our readers?

Right now BIFL is my baby and I’m all up in it. Haha. I’m an editor first and foremost, so putting that on hold at the beginning of this entire process was a little difficult, but everything else on the producing side has been so rewarding

Where can readers keep up with you online? (If someone could also include BIFL specific social media links that would be great)
IG & T: @amberivera
IG: @tenninethirty_creative
T: @_TNTCreative

Daren Taylor:

Could you introduce yourselves to our readers?

What’s up! My name is Daren Taylor and I’m the director of BIFL. I’m an artist/activist that’s been working to develop and tell stories that we don’t often here for the past 10 years and I’m so excited to be a part of #TeamBIFL.

In your own words how would you describe BIFL?

BIFL is more than a webseries, it’s an ever growing family of individuals committed to uplifting and supporting the LGBTQ community through the stories we tell. It’s an opportunity for us to inspire others to share their stories because they matter. It’s also a dope web series that’s funny, diverse, and heartfelt.

How did you become involved with the project?

Amber Rivera (BIFL’s illustrious producer) shared Kelsey’s amazing script with me, and I fell in love with it. I told her that I would be honored to be a part of bringing this story to life. And then we did!

What do you hope viewers take away from BIFL?

That’s a big question. First, I want them to fall in love with these characters and their ridiculous antics like I have. Seeing the humanity in who they are, and wanting to see more of them. Second, I want viewers to understand that BIFL exists because a group of people committed to taking control of a story they felt was important to share, and didn’t wait for someone else to give us the greenlight. Our love, passion and community were our greenlight, and others can do that too.

What were some of your favorite on set moments?

There are so many!!! I’ll narrow it down to two. The first is showing up to set on that first day, and feeling the energy of the set. Everyone was so excited about finally being able to film. It was like the entire team was on fire. I knew then that we not only had a great cast and crew, but a dedicated group of people that wanted this to be something special, and it was. My second is after a particular scene that takes place in episode 6, calling cut, and having everyone in video village explode with cheers of joy. I often keep my emotions close to the chest while I’m directing, but I couldn’t help but beam a little bit and feel like we just captured a little magic in that moment.

What are you most looking forward to at ClexaCon?

Watching Kelsey, watch everyone, watch these characters that have been sitting in her head for so many years.

Are there any other projects you’ve been involved with that you’d like to share with our readers?

BIFL season 2???

Where can readers keep up with you online?

Instagram: @DarenATaylor

website:www.DarenATaylor.com

BIFL_Ep1_JillChloe_House3

Anisha Adusumilli:

Could you introduce yourselves to our readers?

Hi, I’m Anisha Adusumilli! An actor and creator originally from Toledo, Ohio.

In your own words how would you describe BIFL?

BIFL is a show with a ton of heart about a group of chosen family attempting to manage, externalize and sometimes try to deny all of their internal desires and feelings and be there for one another in the process.

What do you hope viewers take away from BIFL?

I hope they take away that for every twist and turn in life, something will be there to catch you. Whether it is a friend, a lover, or even yourself. There is a deeper purpose to everything if we are open to it, and we are supported.

How did you become involved with the project?

I had worked with Daren, our director, on a previous web series Three’s A Crowd that he produced. He shared BIFL with me and I am so grateful to him.

How would you describe your character?

Jill is loveably insecure which makes her weird in situations that never needed to be weird, has a huge heart, and just really wants to be loved for exactly who she is.

How do you think your character would react to being at ClexaCon?

Jill would be like “I wanna hang with people I know and like.” And then everyone she knows and likes would be meeting new people and socializing. And then Jill would follow suit and get dressed up and show up dabbing like “I’m here for the party too!” And the party wouldn’t be for another 10 hours and everyone would look at her weird. So then Jill would be passing time in her hotel room eating take out and watching the latest Ghost Hunters episode and fall asleep before the party by accident. And wake up the next day ready to dab but it’s 7am … womp womp.

Was this your first time working on a web series?

It is not – I have done several web series. But this is the first web series in which I am playing the lead.  It was such a monumental experience and dream come true to carry a series alongside a hugely talented ensemble cast and super skilled and cool crew.  I’ll remember it fondly forever.

What were some of your favorite on set moments?

The very first shot of the film. I think I poked myself in the eye with a hanger in the clothing store location. I was like cool, cool, this is gonna be fun. haha. I knew from that point forward I was safe and I felt comfortable to be myself. It set the tone for the rest of the shoot. From then on, honestly, every day was filled with favorite moments.  But I have to say another standout was when I asked Ryder if he dabbed during our party shoot. And by some power higher than me, that began our dabbing partnership.  I didn’t even know that was actually his thing!

What are you most looking forward to at ClexaCon?

I’m really looking forward to being there in general.  Around the energy of the community, and soaking in as much of the good vibes and love as possible.  From everything I’ve heard about it – it’s a giant warm and fuzzy, super fun love fest.  I can’t wait!

Are there any other projects you’ve been involved with that you’d like to share with our readers?

I will make an appearance on the new season of Lucifer dropping on Netflix in 2019 as well as a new BET show called Games People Play. But mostly excited about BIFL, BIFL and more BIFL! Did I say BIFL? 🙂

Where can readers keep up with you online?

On IG @anishaadusumilli

On Twitter @Anishaflower

You can find BIFL on Twitter, @BIFLseries, and you can find out more about ClexaCon 2019 on their official website.

Share your thoughts with us in the comments or on Twitter, @thenerdygirlexp. You can find me on Twitter, @kleffnotes, on my blog, kleffnotes.wordpress.com, and on my kleffnotes YouTube channel.

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