A few months back, Australian filmmaker Tonnette Stanford, an out lesbian, presented two pilot episodes of her web series “Love Bytes.” The hilarious show follows the wild and wooly romantic lives of a group of close knit friends. Some of whom are gay, some lesbians, and even a few straights, all of whom are entangled in a lot of edgy, boundary pushing humor. There's also a bit of profound and insightful commentary on how we, as humans, clumsily stumble around in the dark in our search for love.
Those two episodes were well received, and Stanford has now launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to finance a full season of “Love Bytes.” She spoke to SFGN from ‘down under’ about her baby.
How much do you need to raise, and how much have you raised so far?
So far we have raised 68 percent of our target. We have to raise another $3,755.
Can you describe the challenges and the rewards of producing an independent web series?
The challenges and the rewards are many. The rewards include working with such a talented and supportive team of people. We are all in it together, working toward creating a show that we can be proud of. I love the collaboration process, particularly working with the actors and discovering new ideas together. It has also been very exciting to see the show building an audience. Our goal was to create a show that could be embraced by queer audiences around the world and to almost reach one million viewers with our two pilots is very rewarding. The feedback has been so lovely and has spurred us on to keep going.
The challenges include the writing process — which is also rewarding in equal measure. Each episode is a self-contained story involving all three characters and to keep the episodes around the 10-minute mark is quite difficult.
I've made numerous films in the past, but this show has required me to direct sex scenes for the first time. That was challenging and daunting, but luckily in the pilot the two actors were real girlfriends, so we didn't have to manufacture or fake the chemistry. That made the situation a lot easier for me.
Lastly, the biggest challenge in producing any web series is the funding situation. It's always a struggle to find the money to make the show, which is why we launched a crowd funding campaign so that we can hopefully fulfill our dream of completing the season. Fingers crossed.
Are all actors from the pilots on board?
Yes, all the main actors will be returning with the addition of Nigel Turner-Carroll playing Stacey's ex-fiancé.
“Love Bytes’” featuring of gay men, lesbians and straight people as part of the same social circle is a far cry from what film, and the world, was like not too long ago.
This show is a celebration of sexuality and friendship. It doesn't matter if you're gay, straight or lesbian. We're all looking for the same thing — to love and to be loved.
I remember when I first came out, I would have this amazing circle of exclusively lesbian friends, like “The L Word,” but that hasn't exactly worked out. Don't get me wrong, I have lots of lesbian friends, but I quickly realized that just because someone has the same sexuality as you, doesn't mean that you have anything in common. It's been 10 years since I've come out and my friendship group includes lots of gay men, lesbians and straight friends. I think it's a wonderful thing that as we continue to move closer to equality, the boundaries that we have put up, usually to protect ourselves, will not be needed and we can open up our social circles to be more inclusive. This can only be a good thing.
When and where will the seasons be available?
Stanford: We will be shooting in June and the rest of season one will be released no later than August of this year.
To support “Love Byte's” Kickstarter campaign, please visit: Kickstarter.com/projects/231560335/love-bytes-the-web-series
More info: LoveBytes-TheSeries.com