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Tribeca: ‘Women Who Kill’ Director Ingrid Jungermann Has Some Ideas for New Queer Cinema

Tribeca: 'Women Who Kill' Director Ingrid Jungermann Has Some Ideas for New Queer Cinema

Ingrid Jungermann first won our hearts with her web series, “The Slope” (tagline: Superficial, homophobic lesbians), which she followed up
with the equally wry and absurdist “F to 7th.” Now, fans of
Jungermann’s particular brand of dark humor set in yuppy gay Brooklyn get a
feature film, “Women Who Kill,” from queer cinema’s very own decidedly non-lecherous
Woody Allen.

Though it may not seem so to her, it’s been a fairly fast
four-year trajectory for Jungermann from film school to hit web series to debut
feature at one of the country’s top film festivals. How does a young queer
filmmaker hit the ground running like she did? Indweller talked to Jungermann just
after the release of the second season of “F to 7th” and in the
midst of her eighth (!) re-write for “Women Who Kill,” which premieres at the
Tribeca Film Festival on April 15.

The second season
of “F to 7th,” just finished airing, will there be a third?

I’m always into doing web series; they help me practice
putting work out there. Unfortunately, I think filmmakers have to be
continually generating, so that you always have something to say when you’re
pitching. If I find money for season three, yes, but I’ve asked a lot of favors
so far.

You did “The Slope” straight out of film school?

During film school. Desiree [Akhavan] and I did “The Slope” while we were dating, and we were both at NYU grad. She had an assignment in
Ira Sachs’ class to make a film and she didn’t know what she wanted to do, then
we started fighting about something, about gay stuff, and I said, “You know
what you should do, you should just make a movie about two gay people fighting
about who’s the better gay or who’s the less homophobic.”

And that was the
pilot?

That was the pilot but then we didn’t plan on doing web
series. Then I took his class and I did what ended being episode 2.

Would you recommend going
to film school?

It changed my life, but it’s very expensive.

Did you make movies
before then?

I made two films before, but I was working. I was a comment
moderator at Huffington Post, and my first job in New York was at Starbucks.
It’s a struggle, being an artist. You go broke doing your own work, and you
don’t have money to pay rent, and then you find freelance work, and you don’t
do your creative work. 

I loved all the
gender stuff that came out in the second season, with you going back in the
closet to prove something to your mom, is that from personal experience?

Well, it’s not recent personal. But, I thought, this time I
want to focus more on a through line and character arc and I need one thing
that pushes the story forward, so I thought, I got into an argument with my mom
about something gay— 

So she’s really a
Jehovah’s Witness?

 Yeah. I’ve come out to her like four times. So we got into
this argument about gay rights and blah blah blah and I just thought, “Okay, what
if I were to listen to every suggestion she had, or people who are anti-gay,
what if I listened to all their advice?” “You
know you haven’t tried men yet, what if you just give it a try? Maybe you were
molested, what happened to you to make you gay?”
I wanted to put myself in
that situation, so I thought, “Okay, Mom.” I wanted to show what it would look
like if a gay girl started dating men.

I love the pegging
scene. It’s hilarious.

[laughs] I was like, “I’m keeping my clothes on, and you’re taking
them off.”

Such a power move.

Never done that. Never done that.

I love the absurdist
thing you have going. Is that intentional, or does it just come out in your
writing naturally?

 I’ve always been attracted to absurdism and satire and
taking your darkest thoughts and turning them into something funny. Maybe it’s
because I always had so much guilt. I think a really good way to release
negative emotions is to make them funny. Hopefully people will enjoy that. 

And does it alleviate
the guilt?

Ha, always the guilt. It does, yeah, a little bit, it kind
of allows me to embrace my own imperfections rather than keep them tamped down.
Maybe that’s why people respond to it because we all feel like that. I just
want to tell secrets and make them funny.

On that note, what
are the challenges of writing a character based on yourself? Are you ever
nervous that people are going to think it’s real?

I don’t really care. They’re varied experiences, but I don’t
mind, I call my character Ingrid, it’s not like I’m trying to cover up the fact
that it’s partially me. But it’s my extreme version, or I’m embodying people
that I’ve met. I use the characters to be able to say things I’ve heard, but
also things I think and am afraid to say. I think in your mind there’s a
combination of characters flowing through your head.

How was the acting
been for you?

I like it. I don’t know how it would be if I weren’t the straight
man, who is just kind of myself, like I don’t know if I could be in the movie “The
Immigrant” or something.

Can you tell me a
little bit about the feature?

Yeah, it’s called “Women Who Kill,” it’s a crime comedy
inspired by “Manhattan Murder Mystery.”

That’s my favorite
Woody Allen movie.

Is it really?

Yeah. No one’s seen
that one! They’re always like, do you mean “Manhattan”?

It’s become a little darker, but basically it’s similar characters
to the series, but my character and my ex live together, and then I meet
someone new, who’s dark and mysterious, and I start dating her, and then it
turns out that she might be a murderer. And then, me and my ex go on this hunt
and then it’s, “Who should I be with? The ex or the murderer? And is she a murderer?” That kind of thing. 

And are you Woody
Allen in this scenario?

Yes. Yes I am.

So you’re the one who’s
like, no we shouldn’t be doing this? And your ex is Diane Keaton?

Yeah. We’re also the two lead characters, the exes, who are
obsessed with female serial killers. Then I meet this woman, and my ex is
trying to pull me toward her again. In the end, it gets dark.

Where are you with
your screenplay?

I’ve written eight drafts, but now I’m re-writing from page
one. I have the characters and the scenes, but I’m re-structuring the order of
the scenes, so I kind of have to re-write from the top. But I’m interested in
making this fast. I want to make this soon. I can get a great cast and crew,
but I just need money. I’m happy to write for low budget, with my re-write I’m
thinking in terms of how much I can realistically spend.

How does one write
for a small budget?

Not that many characters, not that many locations, really
focus on character and story.

Any advice for young
queer filmmakers? Or is there something you think is missing? Something you’re
angry about?

I am tired of shows and web series where it’s just lesbian
sex. The only shows we’ve had are “The L Word” and “The Real L Word,” and now
we have “Orange is the New Black,” which is actually a really great transition.

I think we need more story. A lot of web series I see are
just lesbians making out and lesbians dating, and I’m like, okay that’s great,
but can’t we move on from that? Can’t we find a cool story or something that
really moves you or something that you’re insecure about?

Do you think “Orange
is the New Black” makes light of incarceration?

I don’t care. It’s a good story. It’s entertainment. It’s
fun. It’s all women and people are watching it and that’s what I’m excited
about. People got really upset that Lena Dunham didn’t have a more diverse
cast, and it’s like, guys, let her be a young female filmmaker. It’s going to
take a little time. She’s doing something different, let her do it. Chill out.

Are women expected to
be more politically sensitive?

I think we are. I’m always aware of diversity in casting and
I get really upset with myself when I don’t think of that. I always think about
it, sometimes I’m just not able to do it, but I’m always aware. I do think
we’re innately more sensitive to it. But I also think that, for the people that
are making good work, or are trying, I think we need to give them a little bit
of a chance. We don’t attack white male filmmakers for making an all-male white
cast.

Well, feminists do.

And me, I get mad. I saw this poster for a movie with two
blonde white girls, and I was like, really? Aren’t we past that?

I am definitely really sensitive about how females are
portrayed. Like with rape, I really don’t even go to movies with crazy rape
scenes. But I do think with something like “Orange is the New Black,” which is
obviously trying to embrace women and feminism and diversity, it’s not exactly
the thing we should be focusing on.

What web series do you
love?

My favorite web series is no longer a web series, but you
ever watch “Catherine”? Do you like Jenny Slate? It was the most hilarious
thing I’ve ever seen. And of course, “High Maintenance,” because it’s really
well done.

Lesbian fans are
notoriously obsessive. Do you have wild fans? Any girls throwing their bras at
you?

No, no. I wouldn’t mind a bra or two, as long as they’re not
crazy.

You don’t want a
crazy bra.

No, I want a clean bra.

“Women Who Kill” premieres tonight at the Tribeca Film Festival.

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Check out a trailer for another Tribeca premiere, “LoveTrue,” embedded below:

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