Lesbian films and television shows are very limited within main stream media. While we do have a few shows like The Fosters, Orange Is the New Black, and The L Word that offer viewers a heavy lesbian storyline there are still a number of networks that have yet to understand our relationships well enough to produce a show about it. This is where film producer and CEO of Tello Films, Christin Baker comes in.
Last week I had a chance to chat with Christin about her work with Tello Films and lesbian media. Tello Films does a wonderful job creating films that lesbian women enjoy and easily relate to. Tello Films also is responsible for some of our favorite web series like Kiss Her I'm Famous, Nikki & Nora, and Cowgirl Up. Our interview was FAB and extremely insightful! Enjoy and spread the word!
The Fab Femme: Tell us a little about your history in the film industry. What initially attracted you to the idea of producing films?
Christin Baker: I was always playing around with my families VHS camera when I was in High School. We would make music videos with our neighbors by playing the song on a boom box to the side and then having them dance and lip-sync. We had a bonus room that we turned into our little studio. I think I really loved the creative process and being able to see what you just did.
I remember going to a store and buying a little audio board that I could use to put music or Voice over on my projects. I hooked up 2 VCRs and had a little editing machine in High School. I would do all of my projects on video if the teacher would let me.
I thought I wanted to go into news broadcasting when I was in High School and college and then I did my first internship at a news organization and realized I hate news. I didn’t like the format. That same summer I was an extra on a movie set and LOVED it. I then realized that’s what I wanted to do. So I adjusted my major in college and started working on scripts. After I graduated I started working on music video production in Nashville and was a PA on a small indie film. I just love being on set in production. It’s exhausting but so fun.
TFF: That's amazing! Tell us a little about the first film you ever created.
CB: When I turned 15 I had a sleep over party with some friends. We loved Saturday Night Live- it was during the Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, Jan Hooks years. Since we couldn’t drive we would watch SNL and then on school Monday talk about all the sketches and do them ourselves. At my birthday party we did a parody of SNL called “Friday Night Edited” and we spent the whole night coming up with and taping sketches. I edited it and watched it a few times.
My first real short film was in college. We did a short about a character who loved Pepsi so much that his mission in life was the spread his love of Pepsi. YouTube wasn’t around then so it was just played for my class and a few professors.
TFF: What gave you the idea to create Tello Films. Once you came up with the initial idea, how difficult was is to bring your ideas into fruition?
CB: I was talking with a friend and we always loved talking about lesbian TV shows. We realized that there is a great opportunity to tell more lesbian stories using the internet. At first we wanted to be the Lesbian YouTube and that’s what got us started.
We were very lucky to have family members give us some angel investment and we found web designers who could work with us so it wasn’t that difficult to get it built. It’s actually much easier today than when we started but we were so lucky to get people around us who believed in our idea and us and were willing to help.
TFF: You have quite a few shows that are extremely popular within the lesbian community. Which show was the most challenging to work on and which show was the easiest and why?
CB: I think "I Hate Tommy Finch" was challenging but that was because we had to do skype rehearsals. It was a challenge to work with actors over skype. The end result was awesome but it’s so nice to be in the same space as the actor in working with them.
Easiest was Roomies because we had such few actors and few locations we needed to work with. The fewer the locations, usually, the easier the production.
TFF: What are some of your views on the topic of the misrepresentation of lesbian women in main stream media?
CB: To be honest I don’t think about it that much. Since I have I am often bothered when there isn’t parody in physical intimacy with the lesbian relationship like the straight relationship. So many times the straight relationship gets more intimacy then our relationships and that really drives me crazy. We don’t have that in a tello production.
TFF: That’s very true. What current projects are you working on?
CB: We are always working on fun projects. Right now we are very excited about the release of #Hashtag Season 2 and next is a project that we produced called Plus One. We are currently writing a dance project that I’m very excited about.
TFF: What is the main message you’d like to relay to viewers through your work with Tello films?
CB: We love that we can support female filmmakers, lesbian filmmakers all while honoring our audience. So many lesbian filmmakers have heard “we can’t tell that story” or “there’s not an audience for that” and I feel like we have proven there is an audience for that.
TFF: Just for fun; what’s your favorite show on television right now?
CB: There’s no way I can answer this as just one. I love TV and love shows. I have been watching a lot of Castle as we ramp up our Nikki & Nora Season 2. I love Castle. I watch The Good Wife too. I also have gotten into an Australian show called “Wentworth” which I’m catching up on with Netflix. I love Lost Girl and Pretty Little Liars. I could go on but I’ll stop there.
TFF: Last question. Where would you like to see Tello films in five years?
CB: With more subscribers and being able to make more projects and giving larger web residual checks to our content providers. We just want to keep growing and reaching more people with great series. We hit a milestone of giving back over $100,000 to our content providers. That’s a huge milestone and in 5 years I’d love to be able to say we’ve given back $1 million to content providers. That would be a huge way to support lesbian projects and lesbian filmmakers.