When I met Melinda-Catherine Gross I knew we were kindred. Meeting other female creators not only encourages you, but it’s the moment when you can share your battle wounds with someone who understands. An actor and stunt woman active in the nerd pop culture world, she’s used to being in a man’s world. Now with her new project Drunk Hawkman, she’s talking on some iconic comic book characters with some awesome humor and a lot of cocktails.
What made you want to create content?
I love making things! I wish there was a slightly more complicated answer to that, but it’s true. When I moved to Los Angeles, I had a lot people who would say “Let’s make something!”, but then it would kind of drift away into the universe as folks either didn’t have the time or were afraid of funding. Thankfully I was working with a really motivated team and rather than just talking about if we could do it, we just wrote a script that we wanted to do. By the time we were done, we were too excited to not do it. When you find a story that you love, sometimes you just have to do what it takes to make it a reality. So here, three years later, it is!
With Drunk Hawk Man you are venturing into Nerd and Comics realm, did you have any worries about playing in what is usually viewed as a male driven content world?
I love this question because for me personally, I wasn’t writing for the male viewers. There are tons of movies with very, traditionally, bro-y humor out there that women like. I grew up reading more male oriented comics for sure, but there are so many other women who grew up with the same background. The whole show pokes fun at the comic book industry, so this was something that was on the forefront of my mind when I went into the writers room for Drunk Hawk Man. It was what stood out the most to me in the comics industry.
I didn’t really think as much about the male viewers because in the back of my mind, if they didn’t like it, there were tons of other male oriented web series that they could go out and look at. This was a self funded project and I wanted to treat my women like people.
Why Drunk Hawk Man?
This show was founded on the hungover voice acting skills of Michael Nixon, our fine fellow who plays Hawk, one very groggy Thanksgiving afternoon. What it became was a want to shout at an industry that has suddenly become so popular, yet can be very stuck in its older ways. We wanted to create something where we could poke fun at the thing we love, comic books. At its heart, the show is about beloved characters just having to react to everything that has been written about them before, and how weird that can get.
Also I really like writing dick jokes.
What do you feel is the greatest drawback to being a woman creating nerd content?
Oh that’s easy, it’s never “my content”. I have literally held whole conversations with industry creators where I was not once looked in the eye, but rather eye contact was maintained the entire time with either of my male co-creators. I am often confronted at social gatherings by other (male) nerds and held verbally hostage for a good 10 minutes as they explain the history of a character or a concept that I have written about. Never maliciously, but you know, “Just in case I didn’t know”. Apart from being demeaning in the moment, it is remarkably eye opening as to how I am seen in an industry of my peers.
Tips for overcoming Female Nerd Cred pitfalls:
It’s ok to walk away from a conversation. It takes thicker skin at first, but eventually it becomes second nature. I’ve leaned over in the middle of one of those verbal hostage situations and said, “I know. I wrote about it.”, and chosen to walk away if the lecture does not become a dialogue.
Also, “It’s not bad. It’s just not for you.” This is quite possibly my favorite phrase of all time. “Oh the new Batgirl looks bad because it’s all pastel and girly now.” “It’s not bad. It’s just not written for you.” “Oh the new Ghostbusters is dumb as hell because why do we even need ladies in it?” “It’s not dumb, you’re just not the target audience.” Any iteration of this turn of phrase has gotten me through tons of nerd based conversations. Times are changing for women in nerd culture and you don’t have to sit silent and not engage for fear of being verbally attacked.
What are the pros and cons to wearing more then one hat in a production?
Cons: You never sleep, your eating habits will become atrocious, you’re always on a deadline, your friends will absolutely hate your guts at times, you will absolutely hate your friend’s guts at times, you will only ever be talking about work, you start to find clumps of hair in the shower in the morning (or maybe that was just me). When you take on as many hats as I did, you’re physically giving up your life from that day until your work is out there in the world. I was designing costumes, sending out checks and prepping for shoots when I was home with my family for Christmas. It never really stops.
Pros: You have the power to make your vision and truth come out in your work. You have the opportunity to create with friends and make something you really, truly love. And I absolutely wouldn’t have had it any other way.
What’s next for you?
Currently I’m working on pre-production for, you guessed it, more nerd stuff. I’m currently working with female science fiction writers and readers to do an Orsen Wells like radio series for iTunes. I wanted to give an opportunity for women who write to get a pulpit to show their work from and this seemed like a fun way of getting to do so! I’m hoping to get the first few episodes out very, very soon. I’m also working on my own comic book at the moment, and I’ll be producing a vlog show about being a Dungeon Master in the game “Dungeons and Dragons” which will be coming out later this summer.
And of course, we’re in talks about Drunk Hawk Man, Season 2.
How can people find out and support Drunk Hawkman?
We’re all over social media. Subscribe to our youtube channel where you can watch the whole 9 episode first season now!
You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and at DrunkHawkMan.com. We’ll be making some comic convention appearances later this summer so if you want to meet the cast, those are great ways of keeping tabs!