Squee! The Fangirl Documentary – An Interview with Hansi Oppenheimer

We stand together. We are one of many! You are never alone as a Fangirl. We are your tribe. Please reach out, there is always a Fangirl that will be there for you. There is a always a tribe that will welcome you no matter what you like. Don’t give up. – Hansi Oppenheimer

­­

What is “Squee!”?­­

Squee! The Fangirl Documentary
Squee! The Fangirl Documentary

“Squee!” is a documentary about fandom, and specifically Fangirls. It highlights some of the history of fandom, stories from fans who participate in fandom communities, interviews producers of fan content such as actors (Walking Dead, Buffy, Supernatural), and will feature lots of great content from past and present fan conventions. “Squee!” is being spearheaded by New York Director, Hansi Oppenheimer, and is finished in the production stage. “Squee!” is intended to screen at film festival and convention circuits in 2016.

Hansi Oppenheimer has taken the time to answer some questions about the Squee! documentary:

Lucy: Your documentary is about Fangirls and Fangirl culture –  what led you to choose this subject?

Hansi: Firstly, I’m a PROUD Fangirl, ­as are many of my friends. I love fan culture and oral history and it seemed a natural progression. Since my early childhood fantasies simultaneously crushing on Batman and Ginger Baker I’ve always been Fangirl. And, like so many of us­, I was one even before we had a term for it.

With my film “Squee!” I knew I wanted to debunk the stereotypical depiction of the silly frivolous Fangirl. The women I know that define themselves as Fangirls are anything but frivolous; they are teachers, researchers, writers, historians and librarians. They offer free legal advice, chair committees, run conventions, they do community outreach, they collect contributions for the needy, they foster animals, they generously give of themselves in so many ways & offer their services to the community in more ways than I can count. I can’t even begin to tell you all the times I’ve seen the Fangirl community reach out to help when someone is having financial or family issues or struggling with depression.


Lucy: Are only Fangirls represented in the documentary or do we hear from a male perspective as well?

Hansi: While the film focuses on Fangirls I did speak with a few Fanboys; actors Osric Chau, Gil McKinney, Todd Stashwick, Curtis Armstrong, Chad Lindberg , Jeff Kober, writers Lev Grossman and James Tynion IV, artist Jason Casey, photographer Chris Schmelke, and Comic Book Men’s Ming Chen.

I didn’t want the film to be an anti­-male manifesto. The Fanboys I spoke with are mostly creators who I felt could offer a different perspective on fandom and fangirls. Primarily they agreed that they are thrilled that women are now a larger and more vocal part of Geek Culture and they truly enjoy their passion, commitment, and participation at the conventions.

I want to add that, historically, women have always been involved in fandom. For decades they have been the organizers and the motivators in many fan campaigns. I interviewed Bjo Trimble who was one of the people responsible for saving Star Trek in the 60’s. She’s a true fandom legend as are many of the women I spoke with.

I also wanted to dispel the sense of lingering “Fangirl Shame” that so many of us feel, especially when approaching celebrities. In talking with them I realized how much they appreciate our love and support, but they also get nervous and have the same reaction as we do when they meet someone that they “Squee” over. As actors they are just a little better at hiding it, but hearing their very own “Squee” moments was both enlightening and charming.


Lucy: Why is it important for people to learn more about what being a Fangirl means?

Hansi: Women are so often marginalize without even being recognized as such. I was a teen in the 1970’s and it is appalling to me that in the thirty years since the Women’s Movement we are still fighting for equal pay and healthcare. We are still harassed walking down the street. Women are still being blamed for being sexually assaulted. There’s Gamergate.

Maybe something that seems small like saying ‘We are not frivolous for loving the things we love’ or ‘All toys belong to girls if we enjoy playing with them’ will make a difference. It’s my small way of leveling the playing field for all women. If one or two women leave the film and say ‘There are no boy things or girl things, there are just things I like’, then I will have done my job.

Briana Buckmaster - Supernatural's Sheriff Donna, being interviewed for Squee!
Briana Buckmaster – Supernatural’s Sheriff Donna, being interviewed for Squee!

Lucy: What do you think is the biggest struggle for a Fangirl?

Hansi: First there is Fangirl Shame. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t like what you like or that you don’t know enough to be a “real” fan. You can like whatever you want, in whatever way you want. There is no such thing as a “real” fan. F*#k the Gatekeepers. There is so much abuse online. Just remember that the trolls and harassment online have nothing to do with you, it’s all about their own issues.

As Emily Kelley, one of our beautiful, strong, powerful Fangirls cosplaying as Red Sonja said, “I have had people make comments every once in awhile usually on social media. You just can’t let it affect you, is what it is. They are going to say what they are going to say and think what they are going to think. I think that is why fandom is so great. It hurts every once in awhile. You just keep doing what you are doing and eventually people will stop saying things, hopefully. I just take my Red Sonja sword and chop those sayings.” And, secondly, please don’t ever let anyone tell you we are defined by our looks or our bodies. That is unmitigated bullshit. You are all gorgeous, amazing, and have wonderful things to offer.

Emily Kelley as Red Sonja
Emily Kelley as Red Sonja

So here’s my message – We stand together. We are one of many! You are never alone as a Fangirl. We are your tribe. Please reach out. There is always a Fangirl that will be there for you. There is a always a tribe that will welcome you, no matter what you like. Don’t give up. I’m @troubledgirl on twitter. If you need a woman in your corner, message me. I will be there for you or can at least offer a resource for you. I wish I had realized these things in my 20’s or 30’s but let me offer my 55 years of experience to you now.


Lucy: On the opposite end of the scale, what have the Fangirls said is the best part of being a Fangirl?

Hansi: Another of my all time favorite quotes was from Johnamarie Macias. “I have noticed that a lot of the fan girls come together to support each other and it’s in the name “Fangirl”… you’re a fan of other girls. And I hope that comes across for a few people out there. I think fangirl is something that gets overlooked. You think it’s just something for fangirls or fandom but I think fangirling is fangirling over other fellow fangirls and making sure you are there to offer some words of advice if needed or assistance. Just collaborating, coming up with things that like cosplay…like things that really embody the whole friendship. The awesomeness of bonding with other girls over something that you both like or share with other people.”

The Hillywodd Sisters at SDCC with their Squee! shirts
The Hillywodd Sisters at SDCC with their Squee! shirts

Lucy: Can we expect to see convention footage, if so which conventions?

Hansi: I’ve been shooting at so many conventions over the last three years; Ascendio, NYCC, Walker Stalker Con, Philly Wizard World, Atlantic City Comic Con, Dragon Con, Supernatural SFCon, SDCC, Rhode Island Comic Con, Ponycon. I’m sure there are more, but at this point it’s a blur. We’ll see how that footage pans out in the rough cut.

Tea-berry Blue cosplay at WW
Tea-berry Blue cosplay at WW

Lucy: Please tell us some more about your process and your team that you have working on the documentary.

Hansi: My Process: My process is pretty straightforward; I find something I’m obsessed about and want to talk about for a few years, and then I obsess.

The greatest part of the process is that I am able to meet and talk with people who’s work I respect. I make documentaries because it gives me the freedom to travel and talk with people about the things that are meaningful to me. I make tons of friends and have wonderful adventures. Its really a dream occupation. Maybe one day, I’ll even be able to give up my day job!

The #SqueeTeam
The #SqueeTeam

My Team: I have an absolutely amazing team. Despite our extremely limited resources they are the best, talented, and hardest working group of people that I have ever been lucky enough to work with. They are all huge fans and they completely understand my vision.

 Hansi Oppenheimer filming for Squee!
Hansi Oppenheimer filming for Squee!

I have the brilliant and talented writer (Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls) and researcher Lynn Zubernis​as as my Associate Producer and Co­Writer. She has been invaluable in organizing shoots and managing the hundreds of hours of interviews I have amassed. She is also a dear friend and we have so many ideals and principles in common. It never feels like work when I’m with Lynn. There’s some footage of the two of us watching SPN together and then live tweeting each other during the breaks ­even though we were both at her house! True Fangirl behaviour.

My Post Producer, Adam Williams, ​has been an absolute god send. He volunteered to join the team early on and his expertise, complete professionalism, and incredible talent are unsurpassed. Additionally, I adore his sense of whimsey and his wacky humor (I like to think of him as a “Yellow Snake in A Can” ­ you never know what to expect from him) He is a joy to work with. I can’t wait to see what he brings to the final cut of “Squee!”. I know he will make the film better than I can even imagine.

My LA Segment Producer, Eric Mittleman, ​is a freelance Producer. We worked for the same company in LA and he generously offered to help shoot interviews in LA and at SDCC. He is the Producer for the brilliant Mark Hamill-directed film Comic Book, The Movie, as well as many other projects. Eric has helped us shoot footage with Osric Chau, Curtis Armstrong, Lauren Tom, Bjo Trimble, Todd Stashwick, and Chad Lindberg. We would never have been able to include them in the project without his efforts. And I really enjoyed listening to him geek out with Chad Lindberg over their mutual love of Miami Vice! He’s a total Fanboy and I’m so lucky to have him on the team.


Lucy: How long will the documentary be?

Hansi: We are aiming for 80 minutes but will have a better idea once we have completed the rough cut. We have an immense amount of bonus footage so we plan on offering an extended cut or bonus footage on the DVD or via an upcoming website. Stay tuned for updates.


Lucy: Is there still any opportunity for people to get involved with the documentary?

Hansi: Absolutely! We would love to include lots of great music, fanart, and self videotaped fan testimonials.

Please e-mail: squeefilm@gmail.com.

Mark for the attention of our post producer Adam Williams regarding music; he is interested in cooperating with bands and solo musicians to fill “Squee!” with some exemplary music. There is literally no genre limitations to the documentary so we are looking for an eclectic mix of music. Acoustic singer/songwriter pieces, Ska, Punk, Rock, Electronica -­ we are interested in hearing your music to determine its suitability. Female musicians / vocalists a huge bonus.

Troma crew and #Squeefilm crew at Dcon
Troma crew and #Squeefilm crew at Dcon

For video testimonials:​ Want to share your fangirl story with the world? How fandom has changed your life or your most memorable moment? Just post your clip to youtube and share the link with us SqueeFilm@gmail.com (attn Hansi)

* By submitting the link to SqueeFilm @gmail.com you are implicitly agrreing that Troubled Girl Films and their affiliates can use the audio and/or video in the feature documentary Squee! The Fangirl Documentary as well as any related promotional material #SqueeFilm.


Lucy: For the Supernatural fans out there, will there be any Supernatural related content, if so what?

Hansi: We have been lucky enough to have interviews with some of the cast and crew of Supernatural; Kim Rhodes, Ruth Connell, Lauren Tom, Chad Lindberg, Curtis Armstrong, Todd Stashwick, Osric Chau, Gil Mckinney, Briana Buckmaster, the Hillywood Sisters –  Hannah & Hilly, as well as help from our SPN family; Chris Schmelke, Lynn Zubernis and Adam Williams.

Lauren Tom from Futurama and Supernatural, being Interviewed for Squee!
Lauren Tom from Futurama and Supernatural, being Interviewed for Squee!

How you can help:

Hansi: If you want to see Squee at a local festival or cons in 2016, we need your help! You can donate ​financially, purchase some of our cool t­shirts or buttons; even tweeting or sharing about the project would be help us to get the word out. (see links below)

Please be sure to add #SqueeFilm to all your posts!


Special Thanks to:

  • Lucy Schneider for her expertise and work on photoshop and graphics.
  • Claudia Drinovsky of Sew Geek Austin who created & contributed our beautiful buttons.
  • Sonya Kirsch and Hilary Hodgson who have tirelessly supported the project in every possible way.
  • Heidi Tandy who offered constant legal advice and support.
  • Ayla of GingerHouseNYC who created and wore a Troubled Girl inspired cosplay at Dragoncon based on Jane Russell’s Camp Cactus original design of our Troubled Girl Superhero Logo.
  • Cynthia Ross and The B­Girls song B­Side that we used in our teaser video.
  • Additional camera work was done by Allan Spencer Wall who shot Lev Grossman, and Ken Burke’s team in Vancouver who shot Briana Buckmaster.
  • Amazing original archival photos generously shared by Jackie Estrada, Wendy All, and Fotojedi.
  • Original Fanart by Tea­berry Blue, Juli Mayer and Dena Gray.
  • And finally all the dozens of friends and fangirls that volunteered to transcribe the 100’s of hours of interviews and offered help and support throughout the process.

Acknowledgements

  • Thank you to Hansi for taking the time to share all of this wonderful information with us!
  • Interview conducted via e-mail by Lucy (SpnUK) Sept 25, 2015.

Links

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s