Rebecca Shoptaw has created a great deal of queer media, most notably Middlemarch: The Series, and she will be screening one of her more recent works, Love Language, at ClexaCon this year. I had the chance to ask her some questions about her work and what she’s looking forward to at the convention. Keep an eye out tomorrow for my video all about Love Language.
Could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
My name is Rebecca Shoptaw and I’m a queer writer & director based in NYC. I’m probably best known for the queer vlog-style web series Middlemarch: The Series that I created and directed, but I also make a lot of tender queer short films that screen in various festivals and eventually end up on my YouTube channel. In my work, I’m always returning to the form of literary adaptation – and trying to find new and different forms of cinematic storytelling with which to tell queer stories.
Your short film series, Love Language, is showing at ClexaCon this year, what is the series about?
Love Language is an anthology series of interconnected queer short films, each of which encapsulates a moment in a queer romance inspired by a word starting with each letter of the alphabet. Each episode should work on its own, but if you watch all of them in alphabetical order, you’ll notice characters reappearing as six different queer love stories develop over the course of the series.
How was creating this series different from some of your previous work?
The process of creating this series was really exciting, partly because it combined some of my process for short films with some of my process for Middlemarch. Like a number of my films, Love Language is entirely without dialogue, and much of the storytelling comes in the form of quiet glances and brief touches, often heightened by experimental cinematography and/or editing. At the same time, this project allowed me to use these techniques to return to and develop the same characters over time, just as I had for Middlemarch. I really loved combining those two parts of my work (the cinematic style and the longer-form storytelling), and hope to continue to do so in future projects!
Which letters will you be showing at ClexaCon?
I won’t give away what the letters stand for, but E and F!
What are you hoping viewers take away from the series?
There were three main things I was thinking about when developing and making Love Language. The first was that I wanted to focus in on small, ordinary moments, so as to suggest that there is a quiet sort of happiness to be found in even the slightest of interactions – to present a queer “happy ending” that looks and feels like real life.
The second part of why I made the series was to reclaim some of the “language of love” for queer audiences. Too often, our notions of love in general, in the abstract, are bound up in the idea of heterosexuality. When we talk about what it is to be in love, we usually start by assuming that love is between people of different genders, and then hopefully remember to mention the “exceptional” case of love between people of the same gender. With Love Language, I wanted to flip that script, to create a representation of what love and relationships feel like that feels universal, and yet is entirely centered on queer experiences of love.
Finally, I wanted to create a multiplicity of queer love stories so as to remind myself – and all of us creating and watching films and series – that there are so many queer stories worth telling, and we are only just getting started.
You were at ClexaCon last year, what was that experience like and what are you looking forward to this year?
I had a wonderful time at ClexaCon last year and was honored to be included in the programming. It was fantastic to be able to talk about my work in a specifically queer space (rather than a typical film festival), and I loved meeting other creators and other people passionate about queer representation.
This year, I’m coming with my good friend and the composer for Love Language – Abbie Bosworth – and I’m excited to see some of the people I met last time around and meet lots of other cool new people. I’m also looking forward to the Creator Lab, because it’s such a rare and wonderful thing to get to attend workshops about creating media that are designed for queer people telling queer stories.
Could you share some other projects you’ve worked on and where our readers can check them out?
Everything I’m working on is always listed on my website (rebeccashoptaw.com), but if you’re interested in fandom and/or the creative process, you might like my newest film A Vast & Curious Universe, which follows the creators and fans of a fictional sci-fi audio drama, or if you want a spooky but tender queer fairytale, you could check out The Flickering Forest!
Are you working on any new projects that you can share with our readers?
Yes! None of these have been officially announced yet, but I’m currently working on a short film adaptation of some Sappho fragments, a (loose) adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse as a queer coming of age story, and the pilot episode of a very secret new queer web series!
Where can our readers keep up with you and what you’re working on online?
I’m usually most active on Instagram and Twitter (both @rebecca_ish), and all my work eventually ends up on my YouTube channel!