Lesbian film has a serious problem. While more lesbian films are being made than ever before, audiences still say they just can’t find enough lesbian content. So why is it so hard for lesbian films to find their audience, and what can filmmakers do about it?
The problem is not unique to lesbian film. Barriers to mainstream funding and industry support mean that for the most part, LBQ content is independently made and distributed—and faces the same stumbling blocks as any indie production. Namely, that the platforms we trust to connect films with audiences are oversaturated and overgeneralised. Take Amazon Prime: the attraction of a streaming giant like this is that it hosts indie films and web-series alongside flashy TV productions and big-budget blockbusters. But rather than level the playing field, in practice this system forces independent creators—often on shoestring budgets—to compete with tentpole features and festival favourites for the same broad audience. At $0.01 per hour (the going rate for content streamed on Amazon Prime), any filmmaker without an international marketing campaign will struggle to be compensated. So how can new releases rise above the noise?
The answer is that they don’t need to—they only need to reach an audience that’s already listening. That’s where Lesflicks comes in. As viewers find that their choices are no longer limited by all-powerful studios, filmmakers who embrace their niche will find the most success. By taking advantage of niche platforms, content creators can connect directly with enthusiastic audiences. In the realm of the niche, specificity matters. Even dedicated LGBTQ platforms offer LBQ audiences little space under the umbrella—some host less than 10% wlw content, while gay men’s stories tend to dominate. That’s why Lesflicks is super-specialised to serve the LBQ community, and hosts 100% wlw content.
Our core mission is to create a self-sustaining community of sapphic filmmakers and film-lovers. That means supporting creators to make more lesbian+ content, and to make a living doing it. Lesflicks is proud to offer higher pay-per-view royalties than traditional platforms, from the very first view, with no cap on potential payouts. The more subscribers Lesflicks gains, the more royalties our creators receive. Meanwhile, Lesflicks actively promotes all of the content on its platform.
For indie filmmakers, there is an upside to the lack of mainstream LBQ content. It means you don’t have to compete with big names and bottomless industry resources. You don’t have to match Hollywood’s production values or mass market appeal. You don’t even have to challenge streaming staples like Netflix and Hulu for viewers’ attention. Wlw want to see themselves on screen, and while the industry may be reluctant to invest in lesbian content, audiences have proven that they will.
When LBQ filmmakers remain alienated from their would-be audiences, it’s because large-scale film farms have no incentive to bridge the gap between these niche creators and consumers. As an independent, LBQ-specific platform, Lesflicks works differently. We had to ask: why fight for a seat at the table, when instead we could build a new table? At the Lesflicks table, we deliver our underserved audience the content that’s made especially for them, and in turn, empower our creators to succeed outside traditional modes of distribution. We’re pretty sure that makes us the cool table, but you’re welcome to sit with us.
This article was written by:
Reviewer, Writer, Researcher
Maya Owen writes, sings, and cares about LGBTQ+ representation, among other things.