When we watched Episode 1 of Lauren on the WIGS YouTube channel on Monday evening (the day of release), it had around 300 views. Today the view count is at 35,000 and rolling, fast.
There are a lot of very high up, exceptionally talented people involved in WIGS, and in WIGS’s latest series, Lauren. Written by Jay Rodan, starring Jennifer Beals and Troian Bellisario, and directed by the mighty Lesli Linka Glatter (True Blood, Mad Men, ER, House, Grey’s Anatomy, The OC - just read her IMDb), Lauren is an outstanding piece of film. Taking on the heavy subject matter of female sexual assault in the US Army, and the shocking statistics surrounding the minority of cases that are actually reported, against the majority that are ignored, the series is hard-hitting, moving and most importantly, capable of instigating positive change.
The series is the sixth film piece screened on the new(ish) WIGS YouTube channel, the brainchild of film Ggdfathers Jon Avnet and Rodrigo Garcia, which focuses solely on women’s stories because “men are boring”, said Avnet in i-D online’s i-N Conversation back in May when the channel launched. The first episode of Lauren (shown to your right) opens the story with a charged conversation between Major Stone (Beals) and soldier Lauren (Bellisario). Episode Two has just this second been released, so enough intro, we’re off to watch it. Here’s an interview with the writer, i-D contributor Jay Rodan, who should be feeling pretty proud.
What prompted you to make Lauren? Jon Avnet and Rodrigo Garcia wanted all the stories for WIGS to be about women’s lives. The Army seemed like a very compelling arena in which to explore power and gender identity. As I dug deeper I realised that this story was very emotional and needed to be told.
The language is striking, how did you achieve that balance between the tension of the official army address, and the emotion of what they are addressing? Language in any bureaucracy is in a fascinating state of tension, there’s always a kind of dissonance when speaking from the heart.
What kind of research did you do? It was essential to hew as closely to the truth as possible. I read interviews with victims of sexual assaults in the military, lawsuit briefs, trial transcripts, blogs, congressional hearings, everything I could get my hands on.
Obviously, this is something the US Army try hard to, and succeed in covering up, were there any legal restraints on making the film? The support from the Service Women’s Action Network – an organisation that empowers servicewomen and women veterans – has been tremendous.
How did you pair up with Jennifer, Lesli and Troian Bellisario and why were they the right people for the roles? I think Jennifer’s voice is perfect for the script… Jon suggested Jennifer. I knew her socially and of course knew her fantastic work, so it was tremendously exciting to work with her. She completely nails the mixture of strength and repressed sensitivity that Stone exhibits. Jon showed the script to Lesli who is one of the most experienced and accomplished directors in US television and she, in turn, suggested Troian who she had cast in Pretty Little Liars. Troian’s performance is mesmerising. It’s an amazing team.
What do you think is the future of WIGS? The videos are amassing so many hits, are we looking at the future of film watching? WIGS is blazing new ground in linking established stars and top quality production values to the radical possibilities of new media. It may not be the whole future of film and television, but it will form an integral part.
Are you working on any other scripts? Yes, several for film and television. I’ve also written more in this series, and hopefully we’ll get a chance to dig deeper into this world.