Queer Comrades: Interview with Stijn Deklerck
Our production process went more or less like this:
– We spent some time in the beginning of the season to create a décor.
As you can see from the first season, it was very rudimentary. We just filmed inside the home of one of our friends: we put our logo on his TV screen, we grabbed a table and some chairs, and that was our décor. The second season was a bit more fancy – we actually worked then in part of the photography studio of our camerawoman/editor, which gave us a bit more room to play.
We stayed there in the third season, but did a bit of a décor overhaul, which also went together with our name change (our English name was Queer as Folk Beijing in the first two seasons – in the third season, we swapped it for Queer Comrades).
– We then determined the content of our episodes. Both during the first and the second seasons, we worked at a very high rhythm – we did one talk show every week during the first season, and one talk show every two weeks during the second season. We, therefore, started by making a provisional list of all the topics we wanted to talk about during the season and combined this with a list of guests we could invite, all the events we could film, and all the ‘on-location’ footage we could make around the topics.
We also set up a provisional plan of when we would air which episode. We always tried (and still do) to put in a mix of more “serious” topics (like HIV/AIDS, male prostitutions, LGBT and mental health) with more “fun” topics (like fag hags, fruit flies, queer magazines, love at a distance).
– The whole production period itself was just a crazy mix of shooting the talk shows, editing, filming on-location stuff. We shot all the episodes through each other – we would often try to combine the taping of two (or even three) talk shows during the same week, as it was more practical studio-wise.
Then we had to grab every other opportunity we had to film. At that time there weren’t that many events, and we didn’t have any means to travel around or outside the country, so when something was going on or someone was in town, no matter whether it was interesting for this week’s or next month’s episode, we went to film.
– We tried to keep the taping of the talk show episodes as straightforward as possible. Most of the work was in the preparation of the talkshow itself – looking up stuff, coming up with interesting questions. We didn’t write the content out, however — as you can see, it’s all very easy-going and free-flowing talk. We really wanted to keep that easy-breezy feel to it.
As each episode was limited to 30 minutes, we tried not to tape more than 40 minutes to limit time we would have to spend in editing. We filmed the whole thing with two cameras, which also reduced our editing time.
– The editing was all centered on the deadlines of our broadcasting schedule, and it was always a bit of a rush to get everything done. It created a bit of a working climax toward the broadcasting time. This intensified during the second season, when we started subtitling all of our shows in English and Chinese.
– During these first two seasons, we only broadcasted on major video websites like Sina, Youku, Tudou and Wole. Besides the whole uploading part, we also invested quite some time in creating relationships with the editors of those websites, so they would promote our videos more on their home page, etc.
Then, of course, we also dealt with all the comments that came from our audience, which was quite fun – always good to get some feedback from the audience.
Only for one episode did it get a bit scary. We did a talk show on Lesbian Sex Toys where we featured an owner of a sex shop just for lesbians – she was happy that we were filming her and she gave us all of her contact details to put in the video. That episode was a major hit on the websites, and people started calling her and stalking her, up until the point where we had to remove the video of some of the video websites because she was fearing for her safety.