Lesbian rom-com with a twist, Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together,
is out on DVD today (April 9). The film follows best friends Jamie
and Jessie as Jamie prepares to move away to New York. What she
doesn't realise is that Jessie is harbouring intense feelings for
her. DIVA caught up with writer and director Wendy Jo Carlton,
director of Hannah Free, to find out more.
What inspired the story behind Jamie and Jessie Are Not
I think what inspired me to write and make the film is my
experience with different love affairs with different women, some
of which are complicated. I have a background of falling for a
friend who I couldn't have, not recently, but when I was younger. I
think it's a pretty common experience for women and lesbians. It
can get confusing what kind of love it is.
What would you do if you found yourself in Jessie's
I would probably do the same as her, to be both nervous about
saying the truth about how I feel because you don't want to be
rejected or ruin what's good about the friendship. I'm a pretty
impulsive person when my heart is attracted to someone else's
heart. If I'm attracted to a woman's heart and her mind I don't
like to waste time!
The film is part-narrative and part-musical. What
inspired the musical parts?
I have been in bands and I'm a singer-songwriter. I really love
pop music and popular culture, so I was naturally attracted to
that. It's not really a musical. I wanted it to be more surreal and
an extension of each of the women's inner concerns or desires
without being like a Broadway musical. I didn't want it to be super
polished, so that it feels more believable.
The film is a rom-com with a twist. Where did the idea
for an anti-date movie come from?
I'm interested in complications that have some kind of positive
resolution. I like the ambiguity, but how Jamie and Jessie really
do love and understand each other is not ambiguous. In all of our
lives we can change week by week, so I wanted to make a movie that
was fun for audiences to go along to for the ride. There are
unexpected twists and turns emotionally, so that it isn't
super-predictable and it still funny and sexy. The film is about
friendship and loyalty as much as it is about love.
The film being a lesbian movie, is it difficult to get
people to distribute it and to pay attention?
I'm finding that the movie is doing really well in the
international film circuit. I think we will do well because it hits
the right note and the cast is so good, in my opinion, that it's
believable. It's really up to me, as the engine behind it, to
really market and promote the film. In general it's more difficult
for gay and lesbian films to reach the mainstream, but with Jamie
and Jessie it has had more of a chance, because it is about romance
and humour so it is accessible to all audiences.
It sounds like a cliché, but it is a big sacrifice. It's a
gamble, I had to make a decision to live off of my savings and to
borrow money so that my focus could be totally on Jamie and
What do you think of the mainstream film industry and
does it accept films like Jamie and Jessie Are Not
I think queer films are a sub-category, just like characters who
may be straight but are people of colour, or women. It is still
ghettoised a bit and honestly it always comes down to money. If you
have the money to throw at advertising and hire very expensive PR
firms then you can make a bigger impression. I'm not able to do
that, I have to hit the streets and do other creative things. That
said, it does sometimes work in your favour.
If you could make a lesbian remake of any film what
would you choose?
The Nutty Professor! Part of me thinks that Ellen DeGeneres
could do it, but I would rather give the role to somebody who is as
funny as she can be, but maybe a little younger. People are going
to steal this idea as soon as they read it!
I would love to see a female lesbian character pull off that
dual personality with a lot of heart behind it. The part of Nutty
Professor when he takes the potion, he's a bit of an arse-hole and
a player. We have all met a lot of women who can be that player,
right, I'm interested in that.
Do you have any favourite films?
I like Ghost Dog by Jim Jarmusch, an independent filmmaker. I
like Jane Campion films. My taste is very random, I really do like
romantic comedies. I like the Swedish movie Let The Right One In,
it's really incredible.
You have a background in media activism, what can you
tell me about that and Chicks Make Flicks?
Chicks Make Flicks was a programme I created to help teen girls
get their hands on cameras. When you're younger it's hard for young
women to express themselves when boys are around. They're either
distracted or they want to be liked. I wanted the programme to help
them to tell their own stories and gain confidence.
We also talked about media representations of women and
encouraged them to have a conversation in a safe place. I would
like to do Chicks Make Flicks a lot more often. I teach part-time
screen writing and directing classes. I also freelance, but to
launch my movies is pretty much a full-time job on it's own.
What's next for you?
I'm currently working on my next film, it's a suspense set in a
convent of nuns. It's called The Disappearance of Sister Polean and
has a lesbian protagonist. I want to make a feature every year, I
feel very urgent about the films I want to make. This film is a
suspense-romance and yes, there is a nun who will be having
Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together is available now for
Buy it now at DIVAdirect