In the immortal words of Biggie Smalls, “Here’s another one.” A great effing web series, that is. A web series that I’m head over heels in love with in a way that defies all of love’s boundaries and conventions, in both the platonic and sexual realms. Not that I want to have sex with this week’s series. I’m not saying that. What I am saying is: The feelings of respect and admiration that Ingrid Jungermann’s hilariously poignant F to 7th has inspired in me, have had a transcendent effect. During the 30 minutes I spent watching the show, I was transported to a world of identity crisis, crippling neuroses, and botched social cues—a world made beautiful not because it was unlike my own, but because it was so exactly similar even though I’m a dude and this is a series about lesbianism.
Created by, directed by, and starring Ingrid Jungermann alongside a sparkling roster of New York’s best indie comedic talent, F to 7th is a gem for all the usual reasons — stellar story structure, writing, acting, etc. But, more than that, it’s a project about female homosexuality — a subject that hasn’t achieved the same level of Hollywood exposure as its male counterpart—that manages to stay universally relatable and powerful while delivering a consistent rhythm of moments that are coffee-spitting funny, much like Ingrid herself, as you’ll soon read.
Tell me a little bit about your background in comedy, leading up to this series.
I’ve been involved in theater for a long time. I started out as an actor and I was always really into comedy, especially physical comedy. And after I had been in a few things, I got frustrated with the roles for women and I just decided to start writing my own shows. So I started writing my own shows and I had a women’s theater company where we would do Vaudeville-type shows and just sort of write all of this content and some of that involves sketch comedy and improv comedy. My wiring and directing started in theater and then it sort of morphed into film.
What was the first film project you worked on?
I wrote a short film called “Viewoint.” I was 26, I think, and it was 35 minutes long.
It was a long short film. I had no idea what I was doing. I remember the first shot we took, I was really excited and the actors were really excited and the DP was there and we did the whole “rolling” thing and I didn’t know what that meant so it got real quiet and I’m just waiting with a big smile on my face and the DP turned to me and said, “You have to say action.” [Laughs] So that was my first experience.
How did F to 7th come about?
My ex-girlfriend and I starred in The Slope, which was the web series before this, and we did a couple of seasons together and basically the premise of that was a gay couple arguing about gay stuff. We found that our arguments were myriad, because we had an age difference and because she was bisexual, and because I’m a lesbian. We started that together and then we broke up and she did the last 4 episodes on her own. After a while I had a lot more to say and I wanted to say it from my perspective and not a shared perspective. I wanted to do a spin off of that show and that’s where this show came from.
Lots of people are nervous about taking the first step in the web space because they’re afraid they’ll release something unfunny. What’s your creative process like? Specifically for writing and creating show ideas and arcs?
I find it so interesting that people are so nervous about the web series space when I find that it’s the most free form. At this point you can make your own rules. I’m always amazed when people are like, “How did you do that?” and it’s like “I don’t know we just put the camera outside and got a sound guy.” [Laughs] You gotta just feel it, you know. I guess I’ve always had that personality that I’m a perfectionist and I don’t like waiting, which are not the best traits in a girlfriend. But when making a film or any kind of art it’s really nice because you’re always kicking yourself in the ass for not doing it.
What’s the hardest thing about putting a web series together?
I think trusting that your vision is happening because when you’re in it and directing it and writing it, it can be really confusing if you’re not in touch with the different parts of your brain. And this time, I purposefully built a really great team around me where I could just trust that everything was happening the way that I envisioned it. So that was the most challenging for me.
Budget-wise, you felt like you were okay?
No, we definitely squeezed on that one. The original budget was like $14,000 and I was like, “Well, I’m gonna pay my producer and I’m gonna pay myself because I’m sick of being broke and I’m gonna pay everybody a really great rate.” We only got $6,500 but Jason Klorfein, our producer, made it work and we still paid everybody. I just would’ve liked to have paid them more.
Talk to me a little bit about where you see the web space going generally?
I think the web series is here to stay. I think it’s not TV and it’s not a viral video. I think it’s its own thing and I think some people think web series are just going to become like TV on the web but I think they’re going to actually be more like short films. That will be the short version of TV. Some people are really into short films and don’t really care for features. What do you think?
Well, what I think and what I hope are kind of two separate things. I think that right now we’re still at a place where narratives that can’t stand on their own are still tough for people to get into. I think you’re gonna see a lot of great content with only 800 views or 1000 views, which unfortunately is still the barometer of online success. I think that there’s an opportunity for longer videos to exist as long as they can act as stand-alones. You can come in on episode 6 and say “This is fucking hilarious and it’s 4 minutes long or 5 minutes long, but I can enjoy this as an individualized piece of content.”
I think the through line for narrative web series is just to have a main character like Louie. That’s the through line.
Do you have any advice you would give to young web creators in this film/web series space?
I would say spend sometime on writing because sometimes people watch these and they feel like improv, but they’re not improv, they’re very written and I think when young filmmakers or people who haven’t done it before just think, “Well I’m just gonna make it funny, in front of the camera,” you cant do that. Improv actors are so highly trained that they make it look easy but it’s not at all. Make them real short, surround yourself with a strong team, and have something new to say. If you’re going to make a show that’s been done a bunch of times, I don’t understand why someone would want to do that. Think about something that’s personal to you, something that you really want to say and make that instead of something you think people will want to watch.
Episode 1: Off-Leash Hours
Comedy writers write comedy to get laughs. And when writing comedy, there’s a tendency to run towards the punchline, not taking time in the smaller moments of human interaction that can often be funnier than the thing you’re running towards.
Episode 3: Interchangeable
Jungermann held nothing back and that’s why F to 7th works so well.
Episode 4: Family
Putting famous people in your web series for the sake of putting famous people in your web series is almost always a horrible idea. Putting famous people in your web series because they’re right for the part? That’s a recipe for hitting it out of the park. Clearly.