All successful projects start with a good idea. Sometimes having the idea is the easy part, but what happens next and bringing that idea to fruition can be the hard part. Despite advances in technology and more opportunities out there than ever for young content creators to make their mark, it still takes a lot of work, sweat, favors and risk-taking on the part of those involved to bring a new series to life. That’s exactly what Karen Knox and Gwenlyn Cumyn discovered when making the KindaTV web series Barbelle. The 10 episode first season of Barbelle follows girlfriends and bandmates Alice (Cumyn) and Veronica (Knox) who break up, but must fake their relationship to adoring fans while trying to make their sophomore album.
While Knox and Cumyn received support in making Barbelle from Bell Media and originally premiered on Bell Fibe TV before KindaTV, a lot of funding for the project came from the duo and a crowdfunding campaign they ran prior to production. The money raised allowed the pair to make the first season and staff their show. In addition to co-creating Barbelle, Knox and Cumyn wrote, produced and starred in the series, with Knox also directing an episode.
Knox recently spoke with The TV Junkies as part of our Women Behind Canadian TV series. She discussed how a background in theater led her to discovering her true passion as a film and television content creator. Knox shared her perspective as a young creator and how she and Cumyn brought their idea of Barbelle to fruition. Having recently completed directing the short film Case of the Massey Bodice Ripping, which looks to shine a light on rape as an overused plot device in film and television, Knox shared why she found such joy directing and hopes to continue with it.
The TV Junkies: Can you share a little about your background? Did you always want to work in film?
Karen Knox: I didn’t come from a film and TV background. It’s funny because it seems like in the tech sector, the jobs are getting more and more specialized, but content creation, which is the umbrella term I give myself now, requires so many different skills. I have to be a writer, producer, actor and I direct. It’s becoming less and less specialized since you have to have all these skills that work together.
I started in theater though, directing there and writing poetry. I then moved to England and got my masters in classical performance. It was a very expensive, ultimately useless degree except it solidified for me, that I am not interested in being a pawn in plays written by dead white men 400 years ago. I got my Masters, but I thought if I never do another Shakespeare play ever again that’s just fine with me. In the theater world, we worship at the altar of all these classic playwrights that are all men, and I’m kind of over the classics right now. I get it, but the male perspective is overdone for me right now. That’s why I’m really interested in making new content that gives a chance for the female view and perspective.