When Anna bumps into ex-best friend Nikki at the gym, she finally gathers the courage to voice her suspicions.
What makes a story "feminist"? Does it have to be about strong, empowered women? Does it have to tackle sexism head-on?
I was wrestling with these questions last year as I read through dozens of short festival plays for two women. I was hoping to find something to get produced, mostly as an excuse to work with my ultra-talented actress friend, Kate. The more "plays for two women" I read, the less I felt inspired. Nothing out there was saying to me: I need you to tell this story. So I said, "fuck it. I'm going to write something for us."
From a seed of an idea about the buzz of a significant other's cell phone and the fine line between jealous paranoia and being walked all over, I wrote a play called “Girl Code.” With my friend Kate on board to play Anna (the part I wrote with her in mind) and Casey Gates coming on as Director, and our show getting produced by Stuart Rogers' Studios, I was incredibly excited to see what would happen when we got to work.
Working with Casey and Kate was a dream. I was proud to have pulled together a team of strong women who wanted to make art together. And we were all really invested in the story. My only trepidation was that I had sort of set out to write something feminist, and the story that came out was about two women treating each other horribly. I was afraid I was doing us a disservice.
But when I voiced this concern to my team, they had a different perspective. They said, "this piece is feminist because there are two strong, nuanced, relatable, deeply flawed women up there. That is what we want to see more of. We want roles we can sink our teeth into. Believable, multi-faceted leading roles for women. Plus we're shining a light on this insidious kind of communication that is so commonplace between women."
That made me feel really, really good. We kept working, tweaking the script, exploring the paradigm of these two characters. Our play ran for three weekends to completely sold-out audiences. After each show, so many women came up to me and said things like:
"That exact thing happened to me."
"I could completely see my girlfriends up there."
"I love how it doesn't pass the Bechdel test, but in an intentional, pointed way."
And that felt amazing, too. But after the show closed, we still wanted to do two things. One: get this story out in front of more people. Two: rework the story so that the characters were even more nuanced, and to bring out the cost of the falseness in this relationship on both women, especially at the end.
We knew that short film was the medium to tell this story right. And we want to keep working in a way that creates opportunities for women in the arts--in front of and behind the camera--by making a project that employs several women in the service of storytelling.
So we crowdfunded a modest budget, garnered an audience of eager supporters, and hired an inclusive crew of over 50% women.
We are incredibly proud of this film, and thrilled to be sharing the story at several festivals this year.
-Jessica Jacobs, co-writer, producer & lead actress
Director of Photography
Associate Producer/Asst Camera
Original Music, "Dah" and "Settle"
Diosa Box, Hex Comix, & Game Night in a Can