If you haven’t yet caught up with Féminin/Féminin, Canada’s indie answer to The L Word and Lip Service, now is the time to head to Vimeo. The web series, directed by young Quebec filmmaker and writer Chloé Robichaud (Sarah Prefers to Run), boasts a six-digit online view count, festival screenings, celebrity cameos and international press coverage (French magazine Télérama praised it as “more realistic than The L Word”). At its centre is a group of 20-something women living — and partying hard — in Montreal.
The project took shape three years ago when Florence Gagnon, the founder and president of lezspreadtheword, then in the process of creating the web portal, suggested to Robichaud a web series. The idea of a Montreal lesbian series with an entertaining and upbeat tone appealed to the young filmmaker, and after joining forces, the pair took about two years to get the funding and bring the show to the production stage. Carolyne Boucher and Leonie LeBoeuf became respectively its producer and executive producer.
Robichaud wrote some of the characters with specific actresses in mind. “With Eve Duranceau, for example, I’ve worked a lot before — we’ve collaborated in five projects already. But I also wanted to work with some new faces and discover new talent,” she explains in our email interview. The series plays with the making-of documentary format but also contains the straightforward feature sequences, a mix that the filmmaker found particularly attractive. “The documentary format was a good way to get to know the characters’ personalities in a variety of contexts. I also wanted to give voice to the community. Lesbians often get asked the questions that we bring up in the documentary part of F/F. Some of them have become cliché. I wanted to play with that.”
The girls in the show go out a lot — no sign of the “death of the nightlife,” often imputed to online dating sites and the privatization of queer lives. “I wouldn’t say that the lesbian nightlife is dying. It’s changing, though. I think some girls like to go out to specific queer events, organized for the lesbian community by the lesbian community. And some will go out with friends no matter the space, gay or not, in the gay village or not.”
Among Robichaud’s favourite TV shows with queer characters are Orange Is the New Black, Grey’s Anatomy, Orphan Black and Modern Family. The film directors who’ve done the queer topics best? “Lisa Cholodenko, Xavier Dolan, Gus Van Sant, Léa Pool, Jean-Marc Vallée, Céline Sciamma, Stephen Daldry, Kimberley Peirce.”
Will we get to see another F/F season made for the web? Robichaud does not discount it. “We’re looking at options. The first series took a lot to get off the ground, financially, and we need to be on firmer ground next time around, but yes. We want to see a second season.”