We preview a hilarious film series that follows the awkward and relatable ups and downs of young women living together in London
When you envisage how creative collaborations kick off, you probably don’t imagine them coming together over masturbation puns. But, SKMY, shorthand for Sorta Kinda Maybe Yeah, began just like that. Two of the all-female film group’s founders, Laura and Aya, met when they worked together on the Met Film School Comedy Challenge.
Not only was their film shortlisted, but it became the basis for the first episode of their new web series. According to the team, the short films follow the ups and downs of young women living together. For many of us, the slightly gross but also charming level of closeness will be instantly relatable. Plus, the way they immediately open with one housemate questioning whether another ‘had been using the toothbrush again’ marked the team as unpretentious and bold.
So often, people feign humour by laughing down at people, but these women manage to poke fun at themselves. Nor does their ability to laugh at themselves seem self-deprecating: instead, filled with chatter about contemporary pop stars and everyday politics, these shorts will make you feel surrounded by friends, ensuring you won’t ever need to feel lonely on your lunch break again. In fact, you’ll probably start pulling faces in time with the characters on your screen. Below, we caught up with the collective as they prepare to launch the website at London’s Hackney Attic on April 28.
‘The Web Series’ feels very relatable. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
SKMY: Our real lives. We sat down together at our first meeting, ate a tonne of mac ’n’ cheese, and talked about all the embarrassing shit that had happened to us: bad jobs, dates, places we’d lived, all the mistakes we had made, the crap that we’d done and the crap we’d put up with, and poured it into the scripts.
More women are coming together to form all-girl creative collectives than ever before. Why do you think this is?
SKMY: It’s really hard to talk about things like this without falling into the territory of sweeping generalisations about binary gender traits but, at the same time, those who identify as female have been banding together for a long time, so there must be reasons for it. Perhaps it’s because we feel more comfortable with those things that we often have to hide or push down in more male-dominated environments, such as emotions, which we feel are actually powerful and healthy and a driving force for creativity. There’s a phrase we’ve come across recently, coined by a writer called Lora Mathis. She writes that “radical softness is the idea that unapologetically sharing your emotions is a political move and a way to combat the societal idea that feelings are a sign of weakness”. This is something that has always informed our way of working collectively as well as the content we want to make, and now there’s a term for it!
“We wanted to fill what we saw was a gap in mainstream UK media, so we just made it ourselves!” – Sorta Kinda Maybe Yeah
Why do you think it’s important to have representation in front of the camera as well as behind it?
SKMY: It’s vital that a diverse range of people get to tell their own stories, in their own voices, and bring their vision to life. It’s like the saying ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’ – there are obviously exceptions to that rule, but I don’t think people who have grown up seeing themselves represented realise just how deeply mainstream culture seeps into societal subconscious in terms of how you feel about yourself and how society feels about you in terms of feeling ‘less-than’ or ‘other’.
Which directors do you admire the most?
SKMY: It’s interesting that the focus in filmmaking is always so much on the director. Whenever we talk about films and shows we love, it’s a real mixed bag of loving the cinematography in this, the writing in that, the costume, the performances, the art department and so on. Working as a collective and having to cross over roles due to necessity has really brought the collaborative nature to the forefront of how we see film and television. So we mostly like films as a standalone entity rather than directors. If we had to say a few, I guess we like a lot of writer-directors as they tend to have a very distinct overall vision and style – (people) like Richard Linklater, Yorgos Lanthimos, Sofia Coppola, Spike Jonze, Nora Ephron, Jane Campion, Alejandro González Iñárrritu, the Duplass brothers. We’re also interested in people who are playing with the rules of filmmaking, like Sean Baker who made Tangerine.
What are your top tips for someone who is hoping to start out in film or TV?
SKMY:Well, we’re still starting out in film ourselves! We’re all individually looking for our first proper foot in the door and that was part of what drove us to just start making stuff ourselves. So that would be our advice: don’t wait around for your big break to come along, just go and do stuff! Starting is 90 per cent of the battle, and there are less and less excuses these days. Pick up a smartphone, press record, get some friends, watch lots of films, figure out what you like (and) what’s missing. We wanted to fill what we saw was a gap in mainstream UK media, so we just made it ourselves!
When you start making movies, you can make so many silly errors. Have you made any you’d care to share with us?
SKMY: Oh, man, quite a few! We basically made it up as we went along and learned insanely quickly by mucking up, which was both super-stressful and hilarious. We’ve forgotten to film scenes and then had to wait six months to finally get it in the can, having to write in that Char accidentally dyed her hair green because we just didn’t clock that her hair was completely different. Also the sound recording has been really dodgy at times, and we’ve only realised when it comes to the edit. But we just reassure ourselves that all the people we admire started in the same place and messed up – if you look at the original Broad City web series, for example, the production value is nil but people are very forgiving about that stuff if they like the characters, story etc.
What is your biggest collective achievement so far?
SKMY: Overall it’s just been an amazing year. The fact that we’ve actually made something with zero budget and massive limitations on time, equipment, people – everything, really. (There was) the ICA symposium for the Two Films by Josephine Decker tour – to be included in a group made up of such inspiring, clever, badass people was both a surprise and an honour. Planning our upcoming launch event has been so exciting as well – we’ve reached out to rad girls that we’ve been admiring from afar and found that they actually want to collaborate with us, which is so cool.
What would your filmmaking/creative utopia would look like?
SKMY: Pizza sponsorship. Ginger beer fountain. Rad babes. Male allies without the ego. Financial independence. Aya gets to meet J.Lo and Armando Ianucci. Charlotte is BFFs with Emmanuel Lubezki and Adam Arkapaw, and they want to shoot every idea she ever has. Laura is the filling in a brain and body sandwich with Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson.
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