Meet German Lesbian Secret Agent Stahl. Emma Stahl.
Emma Stahl, a new German webseries, is redefining the image of the “femme fatale” with thrills and style, through a grassroots production hitting computer screens this winter.
Corina Maritescu: How did the series come to be?
Sandra Uredat: It had been annoying me for a while that all the lesbian-themed movies and television series have the same plot. It's always “girl meets girl,” and that's it. No real story. Not since 1996, with “Bound,” had there been a thriller or action movie where the plot was as important as the love story. My idea was to produce a thrilling action movie, whose main character just happened to be a lesbian—a female “James Bond.”
CM: Was it easy to recruit the cast and crew?
SU: Facebook was my friend! There was always someone out there who knew someone who could refer me to someone... and so on. I really don't know how independent movies were produced before we had Internet.
CM: Where did the inspiration for the main character come from?
SU: I have always liked the idea of a "Jane Bond." When I'm watching a thriller or an action movie with a woman as the main character, I always end up thinking: “OK, yeah, she's fantastic, but why isn't she gay? Why isn't she kissing this other sexy woman instead of that boring guy?” With Emma Stahl I have the wonderful opportunity of letting her do all the things that other movie heroines don't do. For example… kissing a lot of women! Emma Stahl is tough, smart and only plays by the rules if it suits her. She is definitely a ladies' woman and a woman of action, not just words.
SU: I asked Meike Gottschalk if she wanted to play Emma Stahl and she said yes. That was a five minute phone call. She loved the idea from the beginning.
CM: What do you think the benefits of having this show as a webseries, rather than on TV, are?
SU: The greatest benefit of having this show as a webseries is that I am doing it my way! No TV bosses, no one telling me that the story isn't working for Joe Sixpack and his friends. On the Internet it's just me and the viewers. I can communicate with them directly. And they are from everywhere around the world, not only from
CM: How easy or difficult has it been to promote the webseries?
SU: We just started to promote the webseries but so far it has been really easy. It's almost as if everybody has been waiting for something like “Emma Stahl” to come along. And that makes me really happy and excited. The question is now how do we get all these women to help us produce Emma Stahl? The easiest way would be if 300,000 Emma Stahl fans gave us 1$ each. Perhaps we should start a bet? It's not possible to get 300,000 women around the world to give us 1$ dollar each. Prove us the contrary!
CM: How has the idea for the webseries been received?
SU: People were immediately hooked on this project. Even when we only had a more or less empty website, lesbian online magazines like eurOut.org and lesben.org reported on Emma Stahl. Again, lesbian women around the world joined us on Facebook and Twitter.
CM: Is mainstream German media typically LGBT-friendly? Are there any shows with gay or lesbian content on TV?
SU: It's very common that a movie or a television series has a lesbian or gay character. And usually they don't show cliché gay or lesbian characters but they try to be realistic. German media is generally very liberal. You can watch for example "Verbotene Liebe" on Youtube with English subtitles. And another one is "Kriminaldauerdienst – KDD," which is a police series. One of the officers is a lesbian woman, but the private life of all characters in this show is just a minor part of the series.
CM: What challenges have you faced in the pre-production and production stages?
SU: Getting the money for the equipment was a big challenge because at the beginning “Emma Stahl” was no more than an idea. That's not very much to persuade someone to make a donation. And then we had the problem of finding a lightning technician who was ok with not being paid. Six hours before the shooting started, I found someone. That was nerve-wrecking!
CM: What has been most fulfilling to you so far in working on “Emma Stahl”?
SU: I was really excited about having so many people volunteer to help produce the Emma Stahl teaser (ok, not the approximately 25 lightning guys I asked). I never felt such an energy on set before. We called it "the flow". Everybody wanted to give her or his best. We shot 15 hours the first day and 17 hours the second and no one was complaining! It was like we had known each other for years and we were just a bunch of friends having a weekend of fun.
CM: Will Emma have a particularly strong love interest?
SU: There will be a Stahl girl in every episode, but of course there will be one strong love interest. So, it's not only action, it's also romance.
CM: Has it been difficult to raise funds for the series so far?
SU: Raising money wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. I was amazed that people from everywhere gave money for a project with nothing more to show for than an empty website. But it's one thing to get the money for a short teaser and another to raise enough money to get a webseries done with 10 episodes, 10 minutes each.
CM: Do you have any donors or sponsors?
SU: Yes, and they will all be included in the credits. There were a lot of people who supported us by giving us a donation. We even found a sponsor. A handbag maker from
CM: How will people gain access to the webseries?
SU: The series will be free to watch and if you donate 10$ you can be the first to watch the series on a private channel. If you give 50$ you even can see the episodes before the final cut is done and give us feedback. For a donation of 25$ your name will appear in the credits.
CM: Will the webseries be subtitled?
SU: There will be English subtitles from the beginning, but of course everybody is welcome to add subtitles in other languages.
CM: What are some of your influences as a producer? What movies or shows do you get your inspiration from?
SU: I'm influenced by current television series, mostly from the
CM: What are your hopes for the future of the series? Would you like to transition to TV?
SU: First of all I hope to raise enough money to produce a slick'n’sexy "Emma Stahl - The Web Series"! And I hope that the audience wants a second season after the first is finished. If there is a television station that likes my version of “Emma Stahl,” why not? But that's nothing I'm thinking about now or planning with.
CM: Do you foresee success for lesbian-themed webseries in the future?
SU: I think there will be many more lesbian webseries because there is this big audience around the world waiting to see lesbian-themed contend. There are many parts of the world where the Internet is the only possibility to get in contact with other lesbians or to watch lesbian movies. And even when you are living in a Western country, the mainstream media content targets straight people. The Internet gives us the chance to sit on the sofa and switch from one lesbian themed content to another. You want to see a lesbian cop, a lesbian sports hero or a lesbian-themed romance? I think that will be the future. And that's fantastic!