Squee! Documenting Where No One Has Documented Before. The Squee Project is a web series that explores topics of womanhood, feminism, representation, creativity and production, body image, race, sexuality and more in pop culture.
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Hansi Oppenheimer
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
In one of my earlier works, the feature documentary “Color Me Obsessed: A Film about The Replacements", I had my first taste of fandom communities, recounting the history of the band, as told by fans. It was described as “The Rashomon of Rock Docs” by The Village Voice.
As I was researching a topic for a new film project in 2012, I became interested in transmedia works like fanfic, fan art, costuming, zines, and vidding. I was excited to discover a rich history of art that has been created primarily by women, however, I quickly learned there was very little documentation of women's contributions to pop culture. What information I could find survived primarily as oral history, so I began recording and archiving the stories of these early women who were pop culture fans to create a tangible history of our impact.
Did you know that many fannish women in their 70's often have a "death pact" with a friend so that when they die, their friends can get rid of all their fanfic before the families discover it? We are lucky to have access to all the fanfic and fanart online now, but what of the stories of their creators? As a woman in fandom, I was aware that many of us are shamed for our passion — in a way that sports fans don’t often experience. I felt that creating a web series about women in fandom would help the community by creating a dialogue about all aspects of our experiences as pop culture fans. It has been such a joy collaborating with other women and discovering the camaraderie and support within the fandom community.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
If you’re familiar with fandom, it’s both fascinating and validating to hear all the various women discuss what being a Fangirl means to them. If you haven't discovered pop culture fandom or attended a comic con, it’s an interesting and creative culture to explore. Squee! goes beyond just comic books and superhero movies but really explores the socio political impact of being a fangirl - both as an audience member as well as creators of their own original work. Each person included in the film has something to say that makes the audience think, or challenges assumptions, or entertains with both humor and a contagious joy in whatever is their passion.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Squee! began as a way for me to try to explore why participating in fan culture has been such a profound experience and through that, I’ve found a huge supportive community of creative women. Personally, it has been so important to me as an independent filmmaker to have that support. The project itself deals with sexism, misogyny, ageism, and homophobia, all of which are both timely and critically important issues to examine. As Amber Benson (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Supernatural) says in Squee!:Identifying As A Fangirl, “You need your girlfriends, otherwise you feel like you’re alone on twitter getting attacked.”
That really reflects that isolating experience that some women feel in many spaces that appear to be designed to exclude them, fan communities included, and Squee! explores how we have created vast support systems for one another and the incredible work we do.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
Initially, Squee! was conceptualized as a feature-length documentary film, but once the script was written, I felt that the content would be better as a docu-series where we could focus on particular aspects of fandom. It also made sense as an independent filmmaker with a shoestring budget to create shorter ‘deep dives’ as opposed to a massive feature. We could produce 10-minute episodes fairly quickly and screen them with panels at comic cons, which also helped us to build an audience. This method of production and distribution encouraged community participation and so the media truly becomes the message.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Excellent! We’ve received Best Documentary Awards at Super Geek Film Festival, Runner up for Best Pilot at Out of The Can Film Festival, an Honorable Mention for our vision and the film's unique contribution to cinema from the Los Angeles Film Forum. To date, Squee! Identifying As A Fangirl has screened at Rhode Island Comic Con, Whedoncon, Supermegafest, Fabulosis Short Film Night, Grand Rapids Comicon Film Festival, Phoenix Comicon Film Festival, Seattle Transmedia & Independent Film Festival, Comicpalooza, Florida Supercon, and Raleigh Supercon.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
The feedback for Squee! has surprised me; I had no idea how many people would support the Project. The feedback we’ve received in person at screenings has also been surprising - first, in the degree of enthusiasm with which the film is received, and second, in some of the fascinating discussions screenings have produced. Some of that discussion has challenged or questioned perspectives in the film and thus moved my own understanding forward.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
We’re hoping to spread the positive messages of the film as a way of validating women in fandom and normalizing fandom for those who are unaware of its joys and benefits. In addition, we need supporters in order to keep creating additional episodes more quickly. At this time, we are all juggling day jobs alongside our filmmaking passion.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We would appreciate support from all of the above, both to continue this important work and to spread the message more widely. Specifically, producers and distributors who can monetize the project and create alignment with other content creators, brands within fandom, etc. Any press that would like to share our message is welcome!
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
We’d love the other creative women out there to feel validated by Squee! To feel seen and heard, as well as to share all the wonderful aspects of fan creativity with folks both embedded in and who are newcomers to fan communities.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
What is transmedia, who creates it, and why?
What do you think of when you imagine a “Fangirl”? Does the stereotype apply to the women in Squee?
Would you like to add anything else?
We believe this is a project with an important and timely message — one that we hope we can spread more widely to do some good in the world!
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Lynn Zubernis is promoting her most recent book "Family Don't End With Blood: Cast and Fans on How Supernatural Has Changed Lives" while teaching Clinical Psychology at a university outside Philadelphia. She presents frequently at both academic popular culture conferences and comic con panels.
Chinisha Scott, a passionate Prince fan, is working with the Screen/Play series which celebrates classic films with memorable soundtracks. She is producing a screening event of Prince’s Under The Cherry Moon in Philadelphia on June 3rd, featuring other (famous) Prince fans Questlove and Jay Smooth.
Hansi Oppenheimer is editing the 3rd episode of Squee! on the legacy of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and presenting panels on fandom. Her most recent panel was at Whedoncon in LA, and she has several upcoming screenings and comic con appearances.
Interview: June 2018
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Squee! Identifying As A Fangirl
Logline: Squee! Documenting Where No One Has Documented Before.
Director: Hansi Oppenheimer
Producer: Hansi Oppenheimer, Chinisha Scott, Lynn Zubernis
Writer: Hansi Oppenheimer, Chinisha Scott, Lynn Zubernis
About the writer, director and producer:
Hansi Oppenheimer (Executive Producer/Director) is editing the third episode of Squee! and presenting panels on fandom. Her most recent screening/panel was at Whedoncon in LA.
Chinisha Scott (Co-Creator) is producing a screening of Prince’s Under The Cherry Moon in Philadelphia on June 3rd, featuring other (famous) Prince fans Questlove and Jay Smooth.
Lynn Zubernis (Co-Creator) is promoting her most recent book "Family Don't End With Blood: Cast and Fans on How Supernatural Has Changed Lives" while teaching at a university outside Philadelphia.
Key cast: Amber Benson (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Supernatural) Kim Rhodes (Supernatural, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody) Briana Buckmaster (Supernatural, Lauren Tom (Futurama, King of the Hill, Supernatural)
Looking for: We would appreciate support from [producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists], both to continue this important work and to spread the message more widely. Specifically, producers and distributors who can monetize the project and create alignment with other content creators, brands within fandom, etc. Any press that would like to share our message is welcome!
Funders: Alana King