By Zach Hyman
In the final installment of Professor A.J. Christian’s Digital Television speaker series, MSLCE students got up-close and personal with Julie Keck and Jessica King, the couple behind King is a Fink Productions. The writer/director/producer duo travelled a long road to their most recent webseries, OpenTV’s Full Out.
Beginning with their short film series, Girl Rods, a “feminist queer exploration of pornography and what it does to our understanding of sex,” Keck and King began producing content ranging from webseries to feature films. “Each time we made one we got a little bit better,” said Keck.
They eventually partnered a digital distribution network that produces content with a lesbian focus. Mainstream depictions of lesbianism “focus on three basic archetypes and we’ve seen them all,” Keck explained. The two instead tried to create a more “expansive view of what lesbianism looks like” with more diverse characters and content.
Keck and King quickly learned the value of building trust with their watchers. “(Queer women are) a very loyal audience,” said Keck. In their time at the network, King is a Fink drove subscriptions to the lesbian platform with shows like I Hate Tommy Finch and #Hashtag, and eventually the subscriber fees fed production, creating a self-sustaining ecosystem. Their executive producer made a determined effort to cast established stars in the lesbian community, and pairing this casting with social media efforts drew more subscribers and more resources for creating lesbian-focused content.
King is a Fink have now partnered with OpenTV in order to release their latest series to a wider audience. Full Out focused on a closeted dancer making her return to the cutthroat world of professional dance; the first three episodes are available now on OpenTV.
Keck and King are already looking ahead to their next project, which will explore “the ways in which the kinds of indignities women experience create rage that women aren’t actually allowed to express.” The hybrid episodic show will show the lives of 6 different women as they enter and leave each other’s lives, forming a “complex tapestry” that examines the intersection of femininity, anger, and perseverance. Just like Full Out, this show will be based in the Chicago dance world.
King is a Fink is another great example of the wide range of stories that independent producers can tell through digital platforms. Check out Full Out on King is a Fink’s website.