A team in the USM community is hard at work on a new web series that aims to explore femininity through the world’s most famous fictional detective: Sherlock Holmes.
The gender-swapping scenes of S(her)lock began as a collaborative senior project headed by senior media studies major Kate Tracy last spring and the project has only gained momentum. The web series was recently funded through Kickstarter, where a collection of clips were screened and the production raised over $6,000. With a female Sherlock Holmes, Tracy’s goal is to film at least six 20-minute episodes with the donated funds.
“I’ve been a long term Sherlock Holmes fan. I’m someone who is desperate for more feminist media,” said Tracy. “I’ve wanted to be show runner my entire life, and after ten years of working and dreaming, it’s finally happening it’s very exciting.”
The cast and production team wants to claim the character as their own, creating a fresh narrative with characters their audience already knows and loves.
“If you look at modern television, nearly all procedures are Sherlock Holmes. A brilliant male protagonist with a “photographic memory” and “an oddball, not a team player” attitude,” reads the production’s Kickstarter summary. “Then there’s the female sidekick, who’s there to log their encounters and be his mental soundboard. House. The Mentalist. The X-Files. Castle. All derive from Sherlock Holmes.”
The role of S(her)lock is played by senior English major Helen Davies, and takes place in 1990’s Boston where the characters battle for a good reputation in a town where female input is drowned out by the opinions of men.
The role of Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick, Watson, has already been played by a woman on the CBS adaptation call Elementary, so this production decided to break another boundary by casting a transgender woman in the role.
“It’s important to know that this is a diverse and inclusive retelling of the story,” said Lisa Bunker who plays Watson and serves as WMPG’s program director when she isn’t on screen.“There has never been a transgender female Watson and we hardly ever see a female Sherlock,”
With episodes already in progress, the team plans to have a writer’s room where people can get together and collaborate on story plots.
“It’s exciting to be a part of this because Kate is good at fostering an environment of true collaboration,” said Bunker. “She is letting people have real creative input and I think the project has a lot of potential because of it.”
“Our key is to do the first six episodes and to see where it goes. A show like this could do very well on a platform like Hulu,” said Tracy.
The first episode is set to film in late February. The donations received will go to both filming equipment and hiring new staff of females that identify with the LGBTQ community.
“It was exciting when we saw the kickstarter go up. It was amazing to see that this money came from strangers from all over the world. It was nice to see our idea being validated,” said Tracy.