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Monday, June 27, 2011

An Interview with Christin Mell of TelloFilms!

COF: We understand you are working on a new project, "Who knows her better?", can you tell us about it?

Yes, this is a game show that is taped in front of a live studio audience in Chicago.  This is sort of like Will and Grace meets the Newlywed game.  We take a straight couple and the women’s gay best friend and through a series of questions we test to see “Who Knows Her Better”.  Our first two shows were hosted by Elizabeth Keener from the L Word and the next 2 will be hosted by Georg Coleman from “Worst Cooks in America”.  I have to say I was very nervous when we first did this because I had never done a game show.  I thought it would be funny you just didn’t know until you actually do it.  Thank goodness it turned out really well- which is why we are doing it again.  After the show ended we had people asking if we were going to do it again.  So we asked Georg Coleman and we are doing another episode July 11th in Chicago at Mary’s Attic.  You can get tickets on

COF: What is the biggest difference that between filming a webseries vs a game show?

Because we did the game show live that is the biggest difference.  If it wasn’t funny or interesting then we were in trouble.  And you can cast a webseries so you know if someone is funny and then you can re-shoot the scenes until you hit the joke.  You can’t really do that with a game show- you just have to hope people are funny and interesting or the whole show won’t work.  You have much more to risk in a game show then a webseries cause you can’t re-do it or re-cast it. 

COF: What drew your interest or inspired you to the behind the camera aspects of filmmaking/ production?

I was in the 8th grade and my family got a video camera- the kind that used the huge VHS tapes.  And I would grab it and would do music videos with my younger sister and friends and then for my 15th birthday party I had a sleep over and we video taped a show called “Friday Night Edited” which was a sketch show like Saturday Night Live.  We did an opening and re-did out favorite sketches and made up our own.  Soon I got to where I would edit videos for school projects.  I didn’t think about it as a career until I was in college and I majored in Television production and worked on projects through out school.

COF: What was the inspiration behind 

The website was conceived in 2007 when the co-found Nicole Valentine and I were having a deep dish pizza in Chicago and we were geeking out about the show Bad Girls.  Once we finished the Nikki/Helen storyline we realized we really didn’t have much else to talk about.  That was right around the time we also discovered and really related to their quest to lift up and celebrate lesbians in entertainment.  We wanted to be the lesbian youtube.  Since then the iPod and smart phones have come to the market making mobile viewing easier.  We have now moved to being smart phone friendly and turning it from an aggregator of lesbian videos to a lesbian distribution outlet.  We really want to find a way to support and create lesbian content.

COF: Besides "Who Knows Her Better?" are there any other projects that coming up for Tello?

Oh yes!  We are in pre-production on 2 more projects.  The one I’m producing is called “I Hate Tommy Finch” with Nicole Pacent (Anyone But Me) and Shannan Leigh Reeve (Cowgirl Up and Diary of a Black Widow).  I’m really excited about this project because we are doing this dual storytelling device. We are doing the production as a play in front of an audience so the actors are able to get this great interaction with the audience (if you are in Chicago the play dates will be in October- look for more information on facebook page).  One performance we are going to bring in a small audience of friends and then tape it.  This way we will be able to move the camera – call cut- or ask them to re-do a scene like in webseries production.  We are doing this because we are going to then post the project as a webseries on tello.  At another of the performances we are going to just set the camera up in the back and have a single, establishing shot we can use for editing purposes.  We are bring the oldest storytelling distribution (the play) and the newest storytelling distribution (the webseries) and meshing them together.  We are super excited and are partnering with a great producing duo in Chicago called King is a Fink to help us.  This is another instance where we are saying “I think this will work but I’m not 100% sure but let’s give it a try!”  “I Hate Tommy Finch” is an original script that follows the friendship and relationship of two women from the age of 8 to 35.  Nicole and Shannan have been so receptive to our crazy idea and as artists are really excited about this as well.

Nicole is working with Nancylee Myatt and Paige Bernhardt on another project that is a comedy/improv based project.  I don’t want to say anymore because Nicole is producing that but it will be shot this year and posted at the end of the year. 

COF: What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in the industry? Biggest reward?

Biggest challenge has been mostly technology-  and by that I mean keeping up with technology.  We started the site before the smart phones and iPads so keeping up with technology is really important so that we remain relevant.   I don’t really consider us in the industry- I think we dance in the periphery really.

Biggest reward:  Here’s the coolest thing about the times we are in with technology.  In the past if you wanted to create or had an idea there was only so far you could go.  The current way the entertainment industry works is there are tons of people who tell you “no”.  Using the new technology Nicole and I are able to create our own distribution channel where we can tell people yes.  We can say yes and figure out how to do it.  That’s the coolest thing.  The second reward goes along with the first and that is we have been so fortunate to work with awesome people who just want to create.  Nancylee Myatt, Bridget McManus and amazing actors who are willing to work on our scrappy fun projects.

COF: Tello films and MyHardt Productions recently aired a webseries called "Cowgirl Up", for those who have not seen it, can you tell them what it's about?

This is an all-female Western comedy.  It has some amazing women- funny, talented and very attractive.  It takes place at a dude ranch for women only and it puts two teams against one another to win best all-round cowgirl.  The girls have to shoot targets, go on a scavenger hunt, rope, ride and spell- all for points.  There is also a budding romance and the threat from the Natives that live on the land.  It’s just a really fun modern day all –female western.

COF: You have gotten to interview several celebrities through Tello, can you tell the readers what your favorite interview has been?

Oh there are so many.  The most memorable was one of our first.  Guinevere Turner was in the bathroom at a bar.  We couldn’t get an interview with her until then and the light was bad and the music was loud and the only place we could do the interview and hear her was in the bathroom.  So the owner let us use it and we shut down the woman’s restroom for like 20 min.  It was a super fun interview.   After that we always carry a light with us to be sure we have enough light.

I think my favorite though is Amy Ray and Brandi Carlile.  Those two were on the same night.  I was allowed to get their whole concert on camera (it’s posted on and then I was only scheduled for the Amy interview but Brandi was kind enough to do an interview as well.  Both are really fun and it was an amazing night.

COF: As you are aware our site is about calling out the posers that continuously affect the lives of celebrities and their fans, what would you say to the posers if there turn out to be one about you?  Would you feel flattered or creeped out?

Gosh that’s a good question.  I think I would feel more sorry for the person who is a poser. I am living a life that I love and so I think people who are happy and taking full advantage of life don’t have time to be a poser they are too busy loving who they are.  So I think people who are posers and affect the lives of celebrities and their fans must live a super pathetic life.  I would think anyone who went after me could also most likely choose someone better or more famous but at the end of the day but I wouldn’t have time to waste on worry about other people and what they do.  I just try to focus on what I’m doing and the positive, creative people around me what are trying to get more stories by and about lesbians on tello and trying to let as many people as I can know about and what we are doing.

COF: More mainstream television is focusing on the lesbian and gay community by making having their main stars either take place in a homosexual relationship or be an out title character, what do you think this means for the future of lesbian/ gay entertainment and for the community all together?

I think overall it is awesome!  People will continue to have characters that are lesbians or lesbian storylines as long as they keep getting ratings or selling tickets.  I still think we have a long was to go as a community in the entertainment arena.  I’d like to get to a place where out actresses can be cast in straight roles.  We are getting close.  Portia de Rossi and Amber Heard are doing a great job of helping us get there.  It doesn’t seem that the gay network on cable is really doing well right now- I’m not checking ratings or anything but it doesn’t seem to be really doing a great job in creating projects for the community.  I’d love to show people that there is a market for lesbian entertainment.

COF: For those who haven't seen "Diary of a Black Widow" can you tell the readers what it's about?

This is a horror webseries that follows a serial killer as the goes through her “victim”. Things get complicated when she decides to stop- but someone has other ideas.

COF: What actress(es) would you love to work with one day?

In my bio on the tello site I mention Katee Sachkoff and that is true- I’d love to work with her but there are so many.  I could go on and on with a wish list but I’ve found the best folks to work with are people who just love to create.  On Cowgirl Up we were luck to work with Maribeth Monroe who is also on the Comedy Central show “Workaholics” and she is just amazing.  I’m trying to figure out how to work with her again.  She is super funny, talented and just an all around lovely person.  We are lucky in Chicago because we have a great community of improvisers and people who just want to work on projects. 

COF: With the exception of the Tello Produced web series, what other types of shows are offered on the site?

Right now we have some independent producers whose shows are posted like “Shock and Akward” and “Webseries the Webseries”.  If a producer wants to show their project on our open site they are able to- they just need to get a hold of us and ask.  Most of our projects are going to be tello produced along with another producer like we did with Nancylee Myatt and Bridget McManus.  We like joint projects.

COF: Who has been the most influential person in your life and why?

I would have to say my parents.  They always encouraged me and reinforced the idea that I could do anything I set my mind to do.  I’ve never really been afraid to try something and fail and I think that’s because they were so supportive.  When I was a kid and we went on road trips to relatives they would play these motivational tapes.  I grew up listening to Wayne Dwyer, Nightengale Conant people and Leo Buscallia.  I think these tapes and the positive messages I got as a kid has stuck with me.  This was all brought to my by my parents.

COF: Where could fans go online to find out more and donate Tello and how does one become a Tello Producer?

I thought you’d never ask ;-).  You can subscribe to the tello Premium Content section.  Go to and click on the link that says “Premium Subscription” on the top menu bar.  It’s $3.99 a month and you can sign up for as many months as you want.  If you’d like to give us more support for producing the content we discussed above you can become a “tello Producer” here:

When you subscribe to 80% of your fees are distributed among the producers who send us their content.  We believe this model will help producers create more content with a lesbian storyline. 

COF: Any final words for the fans? 

We are so grateful to still be around and really hope this new model with the free open section and premium content section works and helps us create more content.  Nicole and I have never looked at as a way to make money but really as a way we could tell more of the stories we love.  We hope there are people out there who like what they see at tello and want to support that too.  Thanks so much for those who have already helped!

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