Drunk Feminist Films (DFF) produces events and multimedia that use (optional) cocktail-fuelled feminist commentary to dissect mainstream movies. They aim jokes at the oppressor and the system, as opposed to those experiencing the oppression.
DFF has hosted live screenings and events at the Revue Cinema and The Royal in Toronto, as well as The Apollo in Kitchener, Ont. To support their ever-growing audience, DFF now works with the Hot Docs Cinema for live screenings.
The DFF team, made up of co-founders and friends, is committed to working with heritage theatres, supporting both their programming and communities, while also providing a safe place for people to criticize and discuss popular culture, while also laughing hysterically, of course, and empowering folks to ask more questions and make more change.
We connect with Gillian Goerz, co-founder of DFF, to learn more about how the group came to be, what’s next for the collective, the impact they’ve made and the lessons and laughs they’ve acquired along the way.
- DFF started with Twilight. Gillian, why were you compelled to bring all your friends together to play a feminist drinking game to go along with the movie?
Twilight is such a hilarious mess, that for reasons unknown, affected so many people and has this massive cultural impact. The first movie is basically a camp film that a huge swath of people took very seriously, which on one had is interesting, and on the other is troubling, since Twilight – and I won’t hear another take on this – glorifies an abusive relationship. It’s unhealthy and obsessive, he [Edward] is controlling and manipulative and then you add to that thunder shower baseball and their hilarious fashion and Sad Boy [also Edward] playing the piano all the time… the only thing you can do is laugh at it. I wrote a feminist drinking game as a joke and thought it would be fun to play it with a few people, so I had the DFF co-founders over and the rest is history.
- What impact have you seen stem from your work with DFF?
We have the best audiences in Toronto, maybe Canada, probably the world, and based on their feedback, we hear how much folks want a place to break down the tropes that we live with every day, to release tension and just laugh, to be in a room with hundreds of other people who are laughing at the same things. The more aware we become of how oppressive concepts are baked right into EVERYTHING we consume (from media to fashion to food, to every system we live with), the more difficult it becomes to live with that (see “feminist killjoy”).
We want DFF to be a place where everyone sees (or is learning to see) these systems and can laugh and kvetch and commiserate without bumming out everyone at your work friend’s baby shower.
- Was it challenging to pick a streamlined vision for DFF?
Our concept is to laugh rather than cry over the patriarchy in pop culture. Once we hit on that as the broadest goal, it really gave us a measure to judge anything else we might take on. Can we talk about the problems and then make fun of them and laugh? Are we making every effort to avoid hurting, alienating or ignoring any marginalized groups, in doing so? Are we surrounded by collaborators and friends with different experiences of privilege, listening to their thoughts and feelings, using them to inform our choices? Yes? Then we’re probably good.
Anything that falls under those criteria works for us. Screenings, webisodes, educational work, podcasting (spoiler: there’s a podcast coming!)…the list can go on and on.
- The co-founders aren’t the only ones who take part in the drunken commentary, though. You also call upon a rotating cast to help host events in Toronto, as well as produce online content with CBC and VICE. Who is currently on the roster? How do you pick your cast members?
After an initial open casting call for members that brought us so many of the incredibly talented people we currently work with, we also keep our eyes on the community. Toronto is so full of incredible comedic talent, as well as a smart, engaged feminist community doing incredible anti-oppression work (and people that do both!), that we really have an abundance of riches. There are so many people we look forward to working with.
- How would you describe the environment or feeling in the room when the various groups come together to discuss and critique popular culture, while having a few beverages?
Although “drunk” is right there in the name, sober feminists are very welcome and shouting along always happens, with or without drinking. It’s really the chorus of VOICES that makes the experience. A theatre is a place where you are supposed to be quiet and respectful and take in whatever performance or movie you are watching. If you have a problem or hate a moment, you’ll usually be shushed if you lean over to a friend to talk about it. So at a DFF screening, when you get to shout “BOOO!” at the character you hate, and yell at the ongoing bullshit you usually are told to quietly ignore, or wait until the end to question, it creates a really exhilarating experience.
Even if you’re not drinking, you’ll usually come away with a buzz from all of the power in the room. It’s a good reminder of why oppressive leaders discourage people from gathering in protest. It’s powerful.
- What was the process like when working to secure space with CBC and VICE?
We were approached by both CBC and VICE to collaborate. With CBC, we worked with the Exhibitionists series to offer fun tips and drinking game rules to get through problematic holiday films. With VICE, they asked if we’d offer up a series of hot takes on the election coverage leading up to Justin Trudeau’s meteoric rise to King Of Canada (eye roll).
- How often do you host events in Toronto?
We do between four and six screenings a year, as well as collaborations here and there. We also do educational screenings that can be booked though the National Speakers Bureau. This is a side job for all of the co-founders, so it always depends on what’s happening in our OTHER lives and jobs.
- What action items does the event production aspect of DFF often include?
I think we all forget, every time, truly how much work goes into each screening. We choose the movie, shortlist and coordinate with possible co-hosts. Once they’re locked in, we all pre-watch the movie and come up with ideas that we pair with six or seven drinking game rules. We coordinate with the theatre around the date, time, cocktail ideas and recipes; we produce graphics and do all of the online promotion, as well as make a program with the rules so the audience can follow along; we book ASL interpretation (and cancel it, if it’s not required); we also usually have some kind of extras on site, like a photo booth, etc. We’ve had body glitter stations, a tarot reader, body painting, free baby-bang hair cutting, contests, prizes…we want the night to be extra in every way.
- What about the online content you create? How often do you release a new video? What does lead up to video launch look like?
Again, video production varies with our schedules, but usually we do four to six a year. It’s a good place to talk about movies, that for one reason or another we wouldn’t necessarily want to screen live (they’re too long, we can’t get live screening rights, they’re worth talking about but might not fill a theatre, etc.). We shoot in one of our homes, and though we initially worked with a few different lovely folks, Amy Wood, co-founder, has been editing and producing [our videos] now for some time.
- How do the co-founders diversify the tasks that come with event production and content creation?
Much like Liam Neeson, we all have a very special set of skills… it’s actually kind of true. I’m sure part of the reason this actually WORKED is that each of us bring something different to the table, from project management skills, to business savvy, to marketing to graphic design, to hosting, to copy writing… we’re a pile of freelancers and all came up in a thrillingly unstable job market that forced us to have many different skill sets and be able to take something and run with it.
- When did DFF, as a brand, officially launch?
A while ago…? (shifts uneasily, unwilling to look it up). We incorporated officially a few years ago but we’ve had a DFF gmail address for over five years. That’s what makes a brand, right? I’m pretty sure.
- How has the DFF brand changed or evolved since launch day?
Our earlier logo was very FLORAL.
Seriously, when we started we didn’t really know this would gain the legs it has. Growing meant we took more responsibility for what we were putting out in the world. Working with a cast was important for that. No time for White Feminism™. More voices, more points of view, more fun.
- What have been the top three lessons the DFF team has learned since the day the “Start” button was clicked?
- If it isn’t inclusive, it isn’t feminism.
- Keep it FUN. For the audience but also for YOU.
- Disable comments on YouTube! There’s always going to be some creep on the internet, making shit weird for you.
- When you’re not working on DFF, what other projects and jobs do the co-founders immerse themselves in?
Steph Guthrie is a community manager, public speaker and writer; Amy is creative lead at a tech company and a copy writer and entrepreneur; and I (Gillian) am a cartoonist (my first graphic novel comes out in 2020, by Dial Books for Young Readers) and graphic recorder.
- How many hours a week would you say you each spend on Drunk Feminist Films? What have you learned about time and stress management as a result?
I’m very tempted to just leave that there, but I’ll try and answer for real: The hours are countless and we’ve learned nothing.
- How can our readers buy tickets to your next event?
All of the details will be on our website at drunkfeministfilms.com! Check it out!! That’s also where you can buy tickets! Which is to say, it will link you to the Hot Docs portal where actual tickets will be purchased, when available.
- What does 2019 look like for Drunk Feminist Films?
Busy. More screenings and webisodes, plus the launch of our podcast, “Problematic Faves!” We literally cannot stop.
- What are you most excited for within the year ahead?
I think the podcast is really exciting. I’m looking forward to being able to dig into other media like music and TV as well as films, and make fun of Tom Cruise or Chris Martin or Gilmore Girls in more nuanced ways. I also look forward to being edited! The screenings are a thrill but you really have to live with the jokes that don’t land. In a podcast, I’m hilarious, ALL THE TIME.
- If our readers are interested in becoming a regular cast member, how can they reach out and apply?
Unfortunately they can’t! Because this is a (fairly consuming) side project for all of us, we seek out cast members as needed, by the whims of our packed schedules. We’ve had lovely folks reach out and offer to volunteer at events, but as an incorporated biz, we can’t accept volunteer help and truly delight in paying everyone we work with.
The best way to join in is by attending screenings – some of the best jokes come from audience tweets and we love to add in the audience’s new rules and jokes throughout the night. And the best tweet wins the greatest prize of all: FRIENDSHIP.
Just kidding, they win a real prize. It’s usually a tote bag.
- Do you have anything else to add?
Young Canadians (well, all Canadians) need to get more involved in Canadian politics! Keep your eyes on the mess in the U.S., sure, but don’t forget that it’s giving a lot of power-hungry idiots a lot of big, fascist ideas right here in our own yards. Feminism is not just a slogan – it’s hard work making sure we gain equal rights for everyone *AND* fight to maintain the rights we already have. They are not a given, and if you look to Ontario’s new Tr*mp stan, I mean Premier, you’ll see that they can be taken away with lightning speed. We must fight to keep them.
We try and make DFF a place that people can express their frustration, feel the power of it, and fuel up for that fight. Get your friends together and write letters, meet at the protest, donate to grassroots groups doing good work. Don’t forget the power you have and don’t be scared to use it.
Thank you Gillian for sharing your story with A Quarter Young. Thanks too for showcasing your powerful perspective.
Readers, visit drunkfeministfilms.com to tune into webisodes, read cast bios and purchase DFF merchandise from their online store. Follow the DFF team on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for LOLs, news and other good finds.
For more information about DFF’s past and future events, click here.
The feature photo is by Yuli Scheidt.