Kallmeyer New York will be the featured wardrobe in Erica Rose and Chelsea Moore's upcoming short, Girl Talk...but for all the women involved in the project, working together and supporting one another is about much more...
Words by Chloe Kent
Images by Daniella Kallmeyer
Girl Talk is about the in between. Mia’s story begins well after her coming out. She isn’t involved in a taboo partnership. She’s navigating her relationship to sex and intimacy within the urban queer culture that exists. This is a story about queer people just living.
"We're queer filmmakers telling queer stories with a queer crew & cast. Queerness takes on many forms, including racial and gender identities. We are representing this in front and behind the camera. Even in this specific world, anyone can relate to a story about the search for intimacy."
Girl Talk is fiscally sponsored by The Film Collaborative, a 501(c)3 organization. ALL donations are tax deductible.
There's perhaps no more collaborative an art form than filmmaking: In the space between pre-production and premiere, dozens (if not hundreds) of hands are needed to ensure every bulb gets lit, every stray hair smoothed, every frame colored. It stands to reason, then, that when a filmmaker finds in her midst a great collaborator, she sticks with her.
Filmmakers Erica Rose and Chelsea Moore, co-founders of Sour Peach Films, met in between takes of “a CBS pilot that went nowhere,” on which Erica served as Assistant to the co-Executive Producer and Chelsea, as Art Coordinator.
“But we did have Ava,” Chelsea adds, brightening— ‘Ava,’ of course, being Ava DuVernay, the internationally acclaimed director of Selma who became, among many other superlatives, the first black female director to be nominated for a “Best Picture” Academy Award. Although DuVernay’s television project ultimately did not get picked up for distribution, Chelsea was among the first people to whom Erica pitched the short film script she’d written and was looking to direct. Chelsea agreed to produce the work sight unseen.
“Without even reading it, I knew right away it was something I wanted to be a part of because of Erica,” Chelsea says. “I was sold on Erica-”
“-And I appreciated that we clicked very quickly. I appreciated the way she talked about the project, the way she talked about film in general. And I was in a place where I was looking to take on more producing content and looking for the right person to do this with.”
The ultimate product of their collaborative efforts will become Girl Talk, a fifteen-minute, semi-autobiographical short film currently in pre-production. Girl Talk tells the story of Mia, a twenty-something queer woman navigating the boundaries of sex and intimacy within the urban culture to which she’s enmeshed.
“What’s important to both of us is that our work revolves around redefining a queer narrative,” Erica says of Sour Peach Films. “So much of the gay content we consume is either the ‘coming out story’ or something about an intoxicating, taboo relationship that’s forbidden, and those aren’t our day-to-day realities. This story is the in-between.” When she’d initially conceived of the film— thirteen drafts ago— Erica “had already come out five years prior, and my life wasn’t about hiding or coming to terms with my gayness. I was grappling with my own identity and my own feelings towards sex and intimacy, so I wanted to put it down on the page.” While Erica, who is a graduate of New York University’s illustrious Tisch School of the Arts, has written and directed a number of film projects, Girl Talk marks her first foray into creating a work that is, in her words, “explicitly queer.”
“These are people that we love, that we know, that we’re friends with, and that we are already,” Chelsea explains in the teaser for the film’s newly-launched Seed & Spark campaign. Through the crowdfunding platform, the two aim to raise $20,000 and start production on a three-day shoot in early December.
The film’s two-minute teaser opens with a cacophony of voices divulging secrets, layered one over the next:
“I feel alone when I’m trying to flirt with someone and they have no idea that that’s what I’m trying to do.”
“I love way too easily.”
“I don’t know that I’ll ever fall out of love with you, but I’m learning to live with that fact.”
“I’m a really good liar.”
“Sometimes I think I might be desperate.”
“There’s no one who’ll know all of me.”
The voices follow Mia (played by Hannah Hodson) through a labyrinth of rooms lit, as Erica elucidates, “following a very strict color story that ranges from icy blues to intense crimsons.”
“The van Gogh-esque cinematography really lent itself to our clothes,” remarks Kallmeyer’s own Daniella Kallmeyer, who dressed the lead actress for the teaser and eventually, the film. “Hannah, who plays Mia, wears a really cool, slinky jumpsuit and a beautiful trench coat. She’s young but has an old soul and a somewhat androgynous quality. It made a lot of sense to collaborate on a film where the main character so taps into how I describe my own brand.” The aesthetic ultimately informed Daniella’s vision of an idealistic New Yorker’s wardrobe: “metropolitan, cool, edgy but not over-the-top or driven by trends. It’s that effortless grace and confidence of a city girl who she can just throw on a jumpsuit and give it personality.”
Agrees Erica, “Mia is someone who’s restricted in her emotions, and that’s reflected through her clothing in the sense that she’s constantly in structured, business casual or layered evening wear that could transition easily into business casual. She’s clean, she has perfectly pressed ironed shirts… She’s that kind of girl. And so I think a lot of the the film is about different kinds of de-layering.”
As she sees it, collaborating with Kallmeyer’s eponymous founder was “a pretty serendipitous connection, because not only did Daniella know some people we were trying to pursue, but she has a really good understanding of the film’s world. What I was really drawn to about her is the fact that she’s not trying to reinvent you— She’s extracting your inner beauty and kind of translating it into something that’s comfortable. I really appreciate that.”
“As a gay woman myself,” Daniella adds, “The story from Girl Talk was a very attractive one to me. It explores identity and experimentation in a way that I completely understand on so many levels. Actually, I felt like there were a lot of parallels between the story’s search for identity and my own brand and network’s search for settling on an identity but not letting it define us as we move through our lives.”
Although Girl Talk’s focus is centered on queer women, the film’s central themes— love, intimacy, rejection— are universal. “Yes, we’re both queer filmmakers, but that’s only one strand of diversity,” Erica says. “I think that, at the end of the day, it’s a story that carries with people of many different backgrounds. It’s absolutely critical to have more perspectives as part of the project, and that includes people of different body types, different ethnicities and races, and different gender and sexual identities— both cast and crew.”
“Being inclusive is important to us,” Chelsea says. “Actively being inclusive, both in hiring and in our stories.”
“Also being unapologetic,” Erica adds, “Because I’m fucking tired of apologizing for the work we do, and the work we want to do. We’re unapologetic filmmakers— We’re not making stuff that’s sensational, but we’re not going to hide away from the truth. A lot of what happened in the script actually did happen to me, and a lot of it could happen to anyone.”
“You know,” adds Chelsea, “I can’t think of a single big feature about female queer sexuality from the last few years— that wasn’t an indie film— that was directed by a woman.”
“You have The Handmaiden, Carol, Blue is the Warmest Color— but all those are directed by men, and they all carry a male gaze,” Erica concludes. “I’m not devaluing those films because I love those films, but what’s important is that there’s just as much opportunity for female filmmakers who’ve actually experienced these stories to tell them. Because no matter what, I can tell it and Chelsea can tell it with much more honesty because we’ve actually experienced it, as opposed to someone who’s looking from the outside in. And I’m not saying men can’t direct two women in love, because I think they absolutely can and I think they’ve done it very well, but there has to be room for women directing stories about women in love, or not in love.”
“This is really a story that comes from their own souls,” Daniella agrees, “And in some ways, creating this film is their KALLING. That they’re using their art as a means of allowing people to explore a new identity, a new viewpoint, they may not have thought about before— That’s really what The Kalling is about. That’s really the thread, no pun intended, of what weaves us together as women.”