“Unlovable,” the debut feature from Charlene deGuzman about her struggle with sex and love addiction, launched its Kickstarter campaign today. Mark Duplass developed the story with deGuzman after she reached out to the filmmaker via Twitter.
“I sent him a direct message on Twitter, and asked if I could send a pilot I had just written,” deGuzman — whose Twitter handle is @charstarlene — told IndieWire. Once she sent it over, “he immediately emailed back that he loved it, and that we should make a movie about it.”
The two developed the comedy about a sex- and love-addicted woman, Joy, who experiences true intimacy through playing music with a reclusive man. Originally slated to star opposite deGuzman, Duplass’s shooting schedule became too busy and he had to bow out. He set deGuzman up with producer Jen Roskind (HBO’s “Animals”), writer Sarah Adina Smith, and director Suzi Yoonessi.
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Having amassed a loyal Twitter following of 35k fans, deGuzman is not afraid to make light of life’s darkness. (“Another successful two hours of group therapy tonight AKA eight women sitting in a circle discussing some dude’s text.”)
“Ever since I could remember, social media has been my outlet to express myself and get an audience,” said deGuzman, who began building her Internet audience in her teens with an online feminist zine.
In 2013, her short film “I Forgot My Phone” — a poignant dark comedy about isolation in the Internet age — clearly touched a nerve when it went viral. To date, it has been viewed upwards of 47 million times on her YouTube channel, Charstarlene TV. The writer and actress teamed up with director Miles Crawford again to make “Drum Off,” an amusing riff on communication and intimacy as told through music.
Though fictional, “Unlovable” is based on deGuzman’s own experience with sex and love addiction, for which she entered a 12-step program in 2014. That’s an issue that may be new to most audiences, especially comedy fans. “A lot of people have it and they don’t know it exists,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to bringing awareness to it.”
That said, deGuzman, with her one viral hit, is not as widely followed as traditional YouTube stars. Most of her followers are on Twitter, where she’s developed an impressive fan base, including Duplass, Patton Oswalt, and Seth MacFarlane. Unlike younger YouTubers, the savvy 32-year-old opts for quality over quantity. “If it’s good, you can trust that it will get attention,” she said.
What she does share with other digital stars is the struggle to land traditional acting roles. The Filipina-American deGuzman has been auditioning in Los Angeles for eight years. “It’s been really frustrating,” she said. “I’m always auditioning to be the ethnic friend, it’s never the main role.
All that could change with “Unlovable,” which deGuzman hopes to fund by the power of social media. “If you’re tired of waiting around, if you don’t want to wait for a commission, just do it yourself.”
Read more about “Unlovable,” and donate to the Kickstarter here.