Ingrid Jungermann Is Hilariously "Homoneurotic"
The creator and director of F to 7th, a web series about a neurotic lesbian in Brooklyn, thinks there may be something wrong with you if you like her show, and that's a good thing.
BuzzFeed: One aspect of your web series that's so great is that you give us such a range of lesbian characters. The episode when Ingrid is at the softball field — which is hilarious — gives us Ingrid and two other women, each with a very different take on what it is to be a lesbian.
Ingrid Jungermann: I love that you watch it and like it. I'm assuming you're a gay man.
BF: Yes. (laughs)
IJ: Yeah, that's what I love. I love that you feel like you can identify with it. Or that a Park Slope mom pushing her carriage around can stop me and say, "Oh my god. I love your show." Or a middle-aged white guy. It's cool. I don't know why it happens, exactly.
BF: Are you getting that feedback consistently from people who watch the show?
IJ: It happens a lot because I don't really like to leave Brooklyn very much. (laughs) I know it's very stereotypical, but it's true. Often I get stopped by people who love the show, and it's so weird. Sometimes I actually want to say, "Really? What's wrong with you? You're watching a web series?"
BF: It seems to be a moment in which so many queer web series are coming together. Is this indie-funding trend part of why we're seeing so many great projects now?
IJ: I think so. In a way, it's pay-per-view because you're paying for the content you want to see. I don't know if it's unique to queer web series. It seems like there's just a lot in general. People are realizing that this is the new independent film. It's still a little underground, and people are paying $10 or $20, basically, to buy their entertainment. And it's pretty cool. A lot of these projects couldn't happen without Kickstarter. But I also don't know how long Kickstarter is going to last. I think it's going to change probably.
BF: Can you talk about the process that led to this point with F to 7th? How did you get here?
IJ: I was in involved in theater since high school. It all started there, I guess. Well, actually it started in 1977 — no, I'm just kidding. I've been doing theater and film for a long time. I made my first film was I was 25, maybe. And then I just made my own films for a long time and worked dumb jobs — terrible jobs — most of the time. My first job in New York, when I moved here eight years ago, was as a shift supervisor at Starbucks. And then I decided to go to NYU Graduate Film School four years ago, and that really changed things for me. Now I see being a writer and director as a paying career rather than as a hobby. I think that mind-set is really important for artists. They have to change the way they think about their work. You can get paid for it. You don't have to feel guilty about it. It just takes a long time. It can take years of work before you're able to earn a living, but you have to stay in it.
BF: The idea of "not feeling guilty for it" is really interesting.
IJ: It's about learning what you want and learning how to say no. Really, learning to stick up for yourself. The fact that you might have a talent is something you should be proud of. Now I think of my career as work. When I say that I'm working on a web series, I'm saying that I'm working. And I've had to get rid of the "this is just for fun" mind-set. If you want to do something, then do it. If that means you have to wake up and clock in 9 to 5 at a coffee shop first, then do it.
BF: Did any mentors, in particular, play a role in empowering you toward this end?
IJ: When I was growing up, my mother was always really great about saying that I could do whatever I want, and that idea was implanted in my brain. It was such a great foundation. I also had really great teachers in high school who told me that I should be a writer or make videos. And I think, in a way, being a little naïve helps. If you're too bitter about the world, then I don't think you could get through this. You have to be an idealist and a little bit of a dreamer to make it through the day-to-day.
BF: The show is billed as a "homoneurotic web series," and Ingrid, the character, is certainly neurotic and kind of reserved, but she doesn't come across as cynical. She always tries to engage people even though she's very uncomfortable.
IJ: Ingrid thanks you!
BF: What's it like writing a character that's based on you and your experiences?
IJ: Ingrid is definitely based on my experiences and my perspective on the world. The difference is that I can be, at times, pretty cynical. It's like the other half of me. If I write a screenplay with 12 characters, all 12 characters are essentially me. So, this Ingrid is one part of me. She's a lot cooler than I am. (laughs) Last night, I was talking with another filmmaker and he said, "I was working on my project, and I didn't want to think about the audience." And I hear that a lot. It's kind of frustrating for me because if you're making a film, which is visual, I don't understand how you can't be doing it for an audience. So, when I'm writing a film, I'm always thinking, "I'm doing this for someone else to watch." It's a confessional in a way in that I'm sort of presenting a list of my imperfections in the hope that someone watches and says, "Oh, I have that too. And that's fine. We're the same, no matter who were are." So that's where I try to come from with the series. It's a humble, imperfect place.
BF: What can we expect next from you and from Ingrid with the series?
IJ: I'm looking into funding for new media because I think I've begged enough from my friends and family over Kickstarter to fund a season. I've outlined eight new episodes. Also, I've also written a TV show pitch based on the web series. And I'm writing a couple of feature films. One is like a lesbian take on The Big Chill, sort of. (laughs) The soundtrack would be very different from The Big Chill, but in the same vein.
BF: Are there other queer artists you look to as inspirations?
IJ: Ira Sachs is an inspiration to so many people. He's a great filmmaker and also a professor at NYU, and he's an inspiration to me because he does what he wants. He doesn't really answer to anyone, but he also has very thoughtful films. And he's also very into supporting queer media. He runs the Queer/Art/Film series here in New York. He's an artist who gives, and that's very rare.