Christin Baker began directing her family’s Christmas plays when she was 10 years old, and later she directed music videos when her family had their first camcorder. Later, in 2007, Baker founded her company Tello Films, at a time when YouTube was becoming popular.
She said there was a lack of lesbian stories and few lesbian characters in mainstream television. Baker wanted to give lesbian writers, filmmakers, and actresses a place to showcase their work and give back to the community.
Tello Films made a promise never to have a program end with the death of a lesbian character. Baker thinks it is important to have women “see themselves as living.”
Last October, the film production company celebrated their Tenth Anniversary producing web-series for the lesbian community. “I wasn’t sure if we would be able to survive this long.
I’ve seen so many content websites come and go,” said Baker. “And it’s been amazing to know we are still here and that making content for the lesbian community is a viable business model and it shows that this is a community that wants its own content and deserves it. It’s amazing we are still here and still connecting with people.”
I interviewed Christin after her web-series Secs & EXECS was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy/Drama Series in September 2017. Actress Mindy Sterling played Shirla in a comedy about bosses and assistants in a women’s wear company.
In 2016, Christin Baker won Best Director at the 24th Raindance Film Festival in London for Tello’s web-series Maybelle. Raindance was the largest film festival she attended. Baker said after doing this for 10 years, she thinks of who she’s worked with and still is amazed at how it is all possible.
Maybelle also won the best drama at the OutWebFest Film festival. The series was written by Bridget McManus who is the Vice President of Development at Tello Films; she also stars in the series. Christin said Bridget McManus wanted to do a southern romance and wrote the script. Shot in Nashville, Tenn. it is the story of Maybelle Garris, a southern woman who is still in love with her best friend from high school.
Baker said she doesn’t have a favorite genre when producing a series, having done comedy and drama, but she is drawn to sci-fi. Her recent series Riley Parra is based on the books by Geonn Cannon. A supernatural thriller, Riley Parra is a detective in a corrupt police department. She becomes involved in a case with angels and demons, battling demons on the force. Christin said the series portrays strong female characters, and that Hollywood is still male dominated, and there are few female directors. In Hollywood there are still too few gay and lesbian movies. As the producer and CEO of Tello Films she has a passion for directing and loves being on the set.
Baker said it’s hard to be both the producer and the director, and is fortunate to have a co-producer and production coordinator to handle daily operations. When she casted Riley Parra she would have three or four choices for a character. She said when casting actors she tries to have openly gay actors play the characters so they can identify. She is currently working on Seasons 2 and 3 for Riley Parra.
An upcoming series on Tello, Happy Wife/ Happy Life will feature comedians asking spouses their advice for relationships. Baker is also working on another action adventure series and a romance about two women in a May-December relationship.
Baker splits her time between living in Los Angeles and Nashville. She said she and her girlfriend love to travel and have recently gone to Bali for 10 days to unwind. When she’s home, her creative juices are always flowing, and she gets inspiration from watching TV and “a lot of movies.” To recharge, she will do yoga and exercise.
Baker’s advice to young filmmakers is to “tell your story.” She said to “make your story, your passion piece.” With little money you can shoot a piece on your IPhone and write a script. To help filmmakers Tello Films runs an annual contest called “Pitch to Production” which gives aspiring writers and directors a chance to submit a web-series with the winning series being shown on the network. She has a really strong sense of giving back to the community. Tello Films is subscriber based with 100% of their net revenue going back to the people who produce the shows.
She talked about the LGBT community, and her responsibility as a lesbian film maker. Baker said it’s important to collectively come together and fight for minority rights. Tello Film’s Mission Statement says, “We value the sense of community and belonging that our stories create. We believe that authentic stories cross all borders”.
“We have to make sure our voices are heard,” said Baker. “Whatever your chosen way of expressing yourself is, put your positive energy in the world to express yourself and who you are. If we are silent, that’s what’s dangerous.” With her passion and talent, Christin will continue to tell stories that need to be heard.
To learn more about Tello Films go to tellofilms.com