“One woman. One man. A lot of weed. A little crying. Indecent adventures in self medication, late blooming and questionable judgment. And absolutely no sexual attraction whatsoever.”
If that sounds like your kind of story, then you may be exactly the target audience for The Benefits of Gusbandry, a new web series in production in Portland that tells the story of Jackie and River, a straight woman and her gay best friend, aka her “gusband”.
It’s the brainchild of Portland photographer and filmmaker Alicia J. Rose, whose work includes music videos for Cake, Laura Gibson, and First Aid Kit and photographs of almost every Portland band you've ever heard of. Now she’s launched a crowdfunding campaign at Seed & Spark to help see The Benefits of Gusbandry through the production of its first season.
“It has to happen,” says Rose. “I’m willing to put my credit card at risk. I’ve never wanted to make anything more in my entire life.”
Rose, aged 45 and a self-proclaimed pot smoker who has had “more gusbands than boyfriends,” says the project was “about finding something that was in my voice, the first thing that really spoke to who I am.” She's not the only one who'll find the experience familiar.
“So many women I know have gusbands,” she says. “There’s this incredible powerful relationship that exists between a woman and a gay man, but this is a relationship that I haven’t seen represented in a funny way in a really long time.”
Rose has already enlisted an impressive array of local collaborators, among them former LiveWire presenter and comic writer Courtenay Hameister as a co-writer on the project, and Brooke Totman (of MADtv fame) and Kurt Conroyd (recently seen in Wild) as the stars. All have come on board in the two months since Rose decided to make the project happen, and are signed on to film a pilot in August. The pilot will then be premiered at the Portland Film Festival in September.
But it won't stop there. The longterm plan is for this to become a web series, a medium that attracts Rose for its “rambunctious, new, early-adopter format.”
"If you want to be a little bit of a rabble rouser and bring a new idea to the table, the web series is the way to do it right now,” she says.
And while she hopes The Benefits of Gusbandry will have appeal beyond this city—though some of the fun is in location spotting, even while watching the trailer below—she pays tribute to Portland for helping to bring it about. “I really count Portland as a huge part of me being able to become a film maker in such a visceral, powerful way,” she says. “There’s not a lot of glamour in the way people do things in Portland—we just get things done.”
Besides, as Rose points out, The Benefits of Gusbandry had to be shot in Portland. “I have so many gusbands here – how can I do it anywhere else?”