PETRA & LUCY is a dark comedy created by Svjetlana Jaklenec & Megan Wennberg. The web series is about two strangers, who if they met at a party, would have nothing to say to each other. But that all changes when Lucy saves Petra from being assaulted by her co-worker, Wes. The two accidentally kill him. And since neither of them wants to go to jail because of this low-life, they need to be smart about covering it up. They decide that the best way to do this is to make it seem like Wes is still alive.
We chatted with the creators of Petra & Lucy this week.
SDTC: Give us your best elevator pitch for Petra & Lucy, and GO!
Imagine the women from Bridesmaids were initiated into Charlie’s Angels. Or if the ladies from Sex and the City went Kill Bill on any man who crossed them. Except Petra and Lucy aren’t friends, at least not at first. Petra is a career-driven contract lawyer and Lucy is a wannabe crime writer supporting herself as a women’s happy-endings massage therapist. If they met at a party they would have nothing to say to each other, but after they accidentally kill a guy together they’re forced to be in each other’s lives whether they like it or not. The guy was a rapist so they’re not sorry he’s dead, but since neither of them wants to go to prison, they need to figure out how to cover it up. They decide the best way to do that is to make it seem like he’s still alive. No small task for novice criminals, especially ones who have such different ideas about how things should be done.
Tell us a little bit about the idea behind Petra & Lucy.
Both of us have worked on lighter comedies (Megan is a story editor for Trailer Park Boys), but in our own work we really want to start talking about things that matter to us, and above all we want to make work that will feel empowering to the women we reach. It has been quite cathartic writing in a darkly comedic style; in this way we can push the boundaries of reality while still keeping the motivation relatable. While following our odd couple of female vigilantes, our series deals with issues of surviving rape, marital abuse, misogyny in the work place, illegal immigrant abuse. To mention a few “lighter” ones.
Did you have an “AHA!” moment when you know that Petra & Lucy was something special that you NEEDED to pursue, guns blazing?
Megan was taking a writing retreat in Montreal and I came up from Toronto for a few days of an impromptu vacation. We both had a really busy last year and this break was gonna be “wild!” So, I get off the train and we are having tea, as two wild chicks would. And within about fifteen minutes we started talking about ridiculous funny ideas we should write about. We both have pretty dark and skewed senses of humour, and at first we were riffing as a joke, but very quickly we started talking about two characters that are women like us. Just countless stories of intelligent, professional, educated, go-getter women that still manage to find themselves in the most ridiculous, often embarrassing and sometimes frustrating as hell situations.
The lack of stories with complex female characters is not news. Apparently Sandra Bullock asked her manager to start sending her scripts written for men, hoping for more interesting roles. Today’s woman is complex, self-aware and sure as hell is confident enough to laugh at herself–while still kicking some serious ass! Why don’t we see more of that type of women on screen?
We just felt we had something special. It’s like these great characters were floating around in the creative universe, and they found us. It’s a special moment for a writer to experience that. We took a picture that day of the café where the first sentences were jotted down.
So, you’ve written the screenplay and shot the teaser, what’s next?
Fighting for it to be made! It all happened unusually fast, including outlining the entire season and writing the pilot in a week. And we haven’t stopped going full speed since. At the end of that same week we realized all the deadlines for funding available for web series for 2016 were coming up in just a few days. And that’s how long we had to put the trailer together. But our hard work is starting to pay off – we just found out we have been chosen for the shortlist for the Telefilm Microbudget Funding Program! We have also applied to the Independent Production Fund (IPF), and we have until March 31st to try and get as many people to view our trailer as possible to prove there’s an audience for Petra & Lucy. Please check it out at www.petralucy.com!
This is an incredibly important project for us to make happen. There have been many articles written lately about supporting female creators in “Hollywood-so-white-male” culture. Megan and I want to see this change happen and not wait for it to be handed to us – because it won’t!
We’re fascinated by writing teams and duos! How exactly does it work?
We are incredibly lucky. Writing in solitude is a tough one, but writing with someone can be even tougher. But it works when you find someone with whom you share ultimate respect for each other’s work and talent. We met while we were both at the Canadian Film Centre. We hit it off because we immediately got each other’s taste and style. Since then, we have worked on a few projects together, in different roles. This is the first time that we are writing together, and we’ll both be directing. I think the most important thing for writing as a team is the unshakable trust in each other’s opinions. It quickly became obvious to us where we wanted the show to go. Getting there, the road was paved with discussions, but never compromises. The best part about our collaboration is that if we get stuck on something we don’t move on until we work it out together.
If you had to get stuck in an elevator for 5 hours with Petra or Lucy, who would you chose?
The truth is we love them both because they are so different. Lucy is intense, but also comical in her refreshing, matter-of-fact way of thinking. Petra comes across as more guarded, but she is wiser than she gives herself credit for. She’s a lot of fun once she’s comfortable enough to let loose. They’re also both incredibly strong, though their strength comes from different places. One thing is for sure – you want to stay on their good sides!