Tello Films Aims for Lesbian Streaming Domination

If it’s not already, one day Netflix will be synonymous with streaming content, the way in the United States “Kleenex” is used for tissue paper, “Vaseline” for petroleum jelly, etc. (these are called “proprietary eponyms,” and you just learned a new word today). For women who love women, however, Netflix’s lesbian selection is relatively anemic, boasting a handful of lesbian movies of varying quality and, in addition to “The L Word,” shows with lesbian or bisexual protagonists such as “Lost Girl,” “Orange is the New Black,” “The Fosters,” and “Wentworth.” This small LGBT library changes unpredictably, with some new movies added over time but other content removed as Netflix negotiates airing rights. Consequently, while Netflix may be the industry leader in streaming, it’s hardly the “go to” place for LGBT content.

In an ideal world, it would be possible to watch “But I’m a Cheerleader,” binge “Lip Service,” chill out to “Concussion,” and top it off with “Saving Face,” but currently no such accessible streaming library exists. A service that streams all-lesbian content (both movies and TV) on demand is, therefore, an unfilled market gap.

Boldly, Tello films is expanding from its initial focus since 2007 of producing and distributing its own in-house lesbian web series to streaming additional, externally produced content. On 18 March, Tello will begin to release episodes of “Lip Service,” with a new episode each Sunday (in limited countries).

On 1 April, the following movies will be available for screening globally on Tello: “Sometimes in Life,” “Bumblefuck USA,” “S&M Sally” (which, for the record, looks hilarious), and “Butch Jamie.” “Beyond Love,” “Fear of Water,” “Red is the Color of,” and “Girl King” will also be available in North America only. Additionally, Tello will release additional movies after its “Pitch to Production” contest this summer and will be at the Cannes Film Market to look for more titles, all while continuing to reach out to production companies and sales agents about adding their titles to its site.

Now, a word to our readers about expectations and economics: Tello Films isn’t Netflix…yet. Tello’s payout for feature films and shorts is more generous per view than Amazon, another streaming giant, which should be a good incentive particularly for indie movies that don’t have Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu sniffing around them, but it will take time for Tello to build its library.

Moreover, Tello isn’t a Silicon Valley startup and doesn’t have a pool of shareholders giving it deep pockets to immediately pursue the rights to big titles like “Carol” (although if there are any investors out there, this sort of project has a lot of potential), so don’t expect to immediately see every lesbian movie on streaming and then complain when it’s not there. But that said, subscribers will be exposed to lesbian content not otherwise always easily available. Moreover, when Netflix was launched in April 1998, it only had 30 employees and 925 DVDs, proof that growth can be exponential in this field if the service is able to access its target audience.

So here’s the deal: if we want a true lesbian Netflix, where we can watch everything from “I Can’t Think Straight” to “Loving Annabelle” to “High Art” to “Aimee & Jaguar” to “Imagine Me and You,” we have to create the right market conditions for it, and that means putting our “pink dollars” to work by helping finance the acquisition of more movie and TV show rights. Tello subscriptions are a mere $4.99 a month (or $54.89 a year). For less than a single grande pumpkin spice latte a month, viewers are helping to build what could legitimately be a real “lesbian Netflix,” as Tello has always billed itself.



More subscribers and more funding could open the door to a lot more content for tello. Lesbian cooking shows? Lesbian travel shows? Lesbian documentaries? Alright, so technically no one but me so far thinks that’s a good idea, but why not? Why does Anthony Bourdain get to have all the fun? Tello’s goal is to be a one-stop shop for lesbian content that will uplift lesbian titles and lesbian filmmakers, so the more funding it gets to that end, the more content it can provide across the board.

I say it all the time, but we as a community can’t demand more lesbian content from producers without simultaneously being willing to pay for it. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. So if you don’t want to subscribe for yourself, give a subscription to a friend as a birthday present. Donate on behalf of your cat or Vice President Mike Pence. If not for yourself, do it because you believe in the idea of a lesbian on-demand streaming service that will let a woman in Mexico, the Netherlands, or Cambodia watch things she might otherwise not have access to. If you’ve benefitted from being able to see these things because of where you live, let someone else have the same opportunity.

Tello will continue to have its in-house productions like “Maybelle.”

As a final note, Tello Films is a sponsor of ClexaCon and is deeply involved with the convention this year. Senior representatives from Tello will be on multiple panels: Acting In and Directing Sex Scenes; Creating an Original Web Series; Happy Life, Happy Wife; Producing a Low-Budget Indie Project; Queer Lady Business; and finally, an interactive workshop on Pitch to Production that will culminate in finalists pitching their ideas to Tello’s senior producers. The Tello women will also be manning a booth during the convention and they’re super friendly, so if you like their web series and like what they do, stop by and say hi.

Tello Films is partnering again with Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend this year! The producers and some of the cast will be present at the largest lesbian party in the world to talk about their mission of creating excellent content for lesbians, how to get involved, and how they’re quickly becoming the new lesbian Netflix.

Check out our interview with Tello founder Christin Baker, who spoke to us last year about lesbian visibility and why she took the Lexa Pledge, and find our reviews of Tello’s web series here!

tello films founder Christin Baker

Let’s give ourselves, and each other, the lesbian Netflix we all deserve. Isn’t it about time?