Alicia J. Rose has directed music videos for such bands as Cake, First Aid Kit, and Bob Mould. Now she has made the leap to episodic storytelling with her premiere web series, The Benefits of Gusbandry. The series explores the relationship between Jackie and River, a straight woman and her Gusband (gay-husband). They aren’t married, but they’re so close they might as well be.
To kick things off, you said you were editing Episode Two when I called. How’s that going?
Editing Episode Two has been going really well. It’s such a sculpting process, the making of an episode. We wind up getting things we wouldn’t expect, and the things that you got that you thought you knew work or didn’t work. But in the end, you make it the most clean and mean machine you can, and you really work with the comedy that’s there and make it as funny as humanly possible. That’s where we’re at.
How many edits have we done now? This is our third or fourth. Our third time on Episode Two. There will probably be another three–something like that. We just got the phase where it doesn’t have music yet, but it’s going to start going to people for music, for sound, for ideas and notes as we tighten up the edit, but that’s part of the process.
When you’re editing an episode and you put together the initial cut before it gets cut down–I know the intended episode length is around eight to 12 minutes–do you find that they’re longer? Do you have to make a lot of cuts to keep it short?
I think Episode One started at 13 or 14 minutes and we got it down to eight. Episode Two started at 13 minutes, and we’re also going to get it down to eight. I think when you write, you write like you talk. But when you actually edit things together–or when it’s performed live and you’re filming it–it gets put through the filter of the human brain. When you’re actually cutting it, you just try to cut out the “ums” and the “ahs” and the messy stuff. Big things come out–things we thought we would need, things we thought were crucial to the episode. Turns out they weren’t, and then other things that are crucial get amped up. It’s really pretty fascinating. I love it.
The show is inspired by your relationship with your own gay friends, or “gusbands” as they’re called–
What made you decide to tell this story?
I think the question really is: How did I figure out what my story was? This is my story, and it took me a while as a filmmaker to figure out what story I wanted to tell from a deeply personal, feminist point of view. It took some soul-searching–including going to Thailand and Cambodia with my number one gusband, Lago, earlier this year–and realizing that he is such an important, primary part of my life. Our relationship really is the most consistent relationship I’ve had with a man in a long time. He just happens to be there when the heartbreak happens, or I’ve lost a job, or whatever. He’s been there to really help me pick up the pieces and move forward. I’ve had other gusbands before him who’ve treated me similarly, and these relationships are the life’s blood of my existence. Really, they’re at the base for my sanity. Truly.
Figuring out that that was my story was the tricky part. I just live it–it’s my life. As a filmmaker I’ve made tons of music videos and lots of short-form work. I’ve been really jonesing for a chance to get to tell a longer story but still utilize the short-form storytelling method as a way to do it–because I’m good at that. I’ve been work at that for past five to seven years. Once I clicked into gusbandry as the core of where I was coming from, it was like unlocking Pandora’s box. I have had so many ideas, and I have so many more ideas that haven’t even played out yet, which is the fun part.