Updated: May 3, 2021
We talked to award-winning writer/director Wendy Jo Carlton, (Easy Abby, Hannah Free, Jamie and Jessie are Not Together), about her sexy new movie Good Kisser, love triangles and life as a female filmmaker.
What first ignited your interest in the world of movie making?
I was already interested in media and reaching the masses, I had a radio show, I loved photography but what pushed me over the edge towards film-making was falling for a woman! I was in Michigan and I met this lesbian couple and we became friends and I was attracted to both of them honestly, they were so sexy together because they were also making films together. One of them was an animator and I did some music for one of their films and we worked creatively together. I already knew I was attracted to women; I had just never acted on it. So, it was falling in love with a woman that made me fall in love with film-making!
Do you think there is a lack of quality female orientated LGBTQ films?
There’s been a lot more out in the last couple of years, especially in short form content and web-series. There’s a ton more out there, it’s just not that well-funded.
You seem to be a romantic filmmaker at heart, with a mix of comedy and drama, what draws you to this genre and how do you decided to go more comedy or more drama?
It’s a creative writing process that leads me to it. For example, with Jamie and Jessie are Not Together, I knew it was going to be romantic comedy, with realistic and believable personal humiliation that’s relatable. I like to write about things that actually happen in life, whether you’re queer or not, in terms of relationship and power, or about power imbalances. I really love writing love triangles, even if it isn’t about them having sex or making out, sometimes it’s also about unlikely friendships. But there’s something about the three parts, that helps me develop the psychology about everybody, what they each want and the emotional negotiations that happen between people in our lives.
Have you experienced a love triangle yourself?
Yes, more emotionally than physically. I think a lot more women, especially lesbian women, have similar experiences, they are more likely to respond to, go after, or even honor their attractions to other women. That’s why I wanted to write Easy Abby. I wanted to write about a female character who is un-apologetically good and bad, who loves a lot of different types of women and doesn’t seek to get laid all the time.
Tell us about “Good Kisser”?
I started writing Good Kisser in Los Angeles a few years ago and what I wanted to do was create a story that would be hot, erotic, and about sexual tension. So, I kept writing and thinking what the scenario would be, to bring about different degrees of sexual tension and how that moves around organically. Because we’ve all been in those situations, where we go to a party and run into somebody who makes you think “something's going on here”, when she was talking to me and it wasn’t just a drunken flirt, something bigger and I love to honor that experience, that feeling and the chemistry. With Good Kisser Jenna (Kari Alison Hodge) loves Kate (Rachel Paulson), her girlfriend, she’s curious and open to having this weekend date with Mia (Julia Eringer), without any obligations to be physical or sexual by any means, and I wanted to write about what that could play out like, as an exploration but in real time.
You have a great cast, was it fun working with them?
We did have a lot of fun! By the time we got the three main women together I knew the chemistry was going to work, which was the most important thing. I could see and feel they had that chemistry and the tension.
How is it creating a sexy atmosphere for filming?
First of all, its about communicating, clearly and thoroughly with the actors about any sensual, sexual, or emotional scenes. Having as many upfront and transparent conversations as I can with the actors before we are actually on set, discuss what each scene is about with each person individually, long before they are in the same room together. And, if you have enough time, ideally you want to be blocking things out physically, no camera’s or lighting, just me and the actors and we’re talking through the scene with no rush. I usually schedule any partially clothed, or unclothed scenes towards the end of the filming, so everyone can get to know each other first, with the crew, me and the actors, so everyone can become comfortable with the whole process.
What do you enjoy most, writing or directing?
I enjoy the writing more, because it’s just me grappling with ideas and developing the emotional wants and needs of the characters. How they relate to each other, or not, and I don’t have to be ready to communicate that with anybody else yet. I only have to worry about my own discipline and my own process. I back myself into a corner with a deadline, I write two thirds of the script in three months, after working for seven months on the first half. When the script is ready to go it’s super exciting, but it’s a thousand moving parts, to get it funded, cast, filmed, edited and I do enjoy those things, I’ve been producing for many years.
Which women in film have inspired you the most?
I would say that first lesbian couple were definitely inspiring. Jane Campion, I think she is phenomenal as a writer and a filmmaker, Kelly Reichardt is another inspiration along with Lynda Barry, who never fails to make me feel hopeful and gets me to work.
If you could work with one woman in the future, who would you choose?
I’d love to work with Jodi Foster in something that’s different, where she’s a little weirder, I don’t want her to be physically harmed in it she’s had enough of those movies!
What is the best piece of advice you were given in your career as a female filmmaker?
Don’t wait to get permission!
What advice would you give any young filmmaker?
Figure out what you’re obsessed with and what you’re really angry about and start writing about it, without thinking who’s going to watch it and who will like it.
Tell us something positive that lock-down life has done for you?
I’m doing more yoga and that helps me physically and emotionally. Something creatively positive is I’m working on a new screenplay and I’ve got my writers group back online every Thursday, so we are being productive and a creative community.
Can you tell us about the new project?
Yes, there are two different screenplays, they both have female lead characters, one is called Slipknot, its about a middle-aged lesbian cellist. The movie begins when she’s evicted from the home she shared with her lover, after her lover suddenly dies, because her lover’s family do not recognize her relationship. She is grieving, she is a woman of color, a queer and musician. It’s a drama and I’m letting myself go a little darker, as there’s a lot of dark to write about at the moment! I normally keep some of the darkness at bay, as I have a bigger motivation to have hope, even if it’s a little bittersweet, I feel that’s more my philosophy on life anyway. I like to leave the audience feeling hopeful.
Good Kisser – Careful what you wish for. Jenna agrees to a sexy weekend fling with materialistic girlfriend Kate and the worldly Mia. As the night unfolds, Jenna realizes she’s bitten off more than she can chew, and the love triangle begins to crack.
Good Kisser will be available for purchase and rent on May 19, 2020 ahead of its DVD release set for June 16th, 2020. Good Kisser will stream on a variety of digital platforms including Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, FandangoNOW, Google Play, VUDU and WolfeOnDemand.com.
Please visit GoodKisserMovie.com for more information
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COMING SOON ~ A Conversation with Rachel Paulson!