QueerBee is the new Netflix for LGBT+ short films

Activists Angie West and Jac Nunns have founded QueerBee, a community-based company giving LGBT+ filmmakers and viewers a space to feel represented.

QueerBee creators Jac Nunns and Angie West
Image Source: Creators of LGBT+ streaming service QueerBee Jac Nunns and Angie West

Hundreds of LGBT+ film festivals internationally (the recent GAZE in Dublin and OUTFEST in Los Angeles to name a couple) offer the LGBT+ community space to express themselves through film. However, creators of QueerBee Jac Nunns and Angie West felt like the clustered screenings failed to provide LGBT+ filmmakers with an outlet to present their work for the long-term.

Despite scouring through multiple streaming services, “we couldn’t find an ample supply of queer short films organised in any meaningful way. In face, e spent longer looking for things than actually watching films,” they explain on the QueerBee website.

For £3.99 a month or an annual subscription of £40, QueerBee is a streaming service that allows LGBT+ people to access an expansive collection of inclusive LGBT+ short films, from filmmakers such as Louise Marie Cook and Jack Graf. The films cover a wide range of genres, both fiction and non-fiction, and aim to discuss all facets of the LGBT+ community.

Established as a community interest company, 25% of the profits generated through the streaming service is awarded as grants for upcoming projects, another 25% is used for platform development, with the remaining 50% given to the filmmakers directly.

“We are part of the community, doing it for the community, trying to contribute back to the community,” West told the Evening Standard. QueerBee’s community orientation is exacerbated by the live screenings they host in London.

Jac Nunns and Angie West started making short films as a hobby in 2011, alongside their full-time jobs. Nonetheless, their young works garnered huge acclaim; their first production was featured at the 2012 LGBT+ Film Festival in San Francisco.

Now, their shorts have been screened at over 70 film festivals worldwide.

“There was this view that people made short films to demonstrate their skills to prospectively make a feature film. But our view was that people who were doing it as a form of activism did not do it for those reasons,” Nunns explained.

Nunns and West are looking for titles for QueerBee through their FilmFreeway page. The duo received around 300 films through their initial ask, half of which made it to the website.

“Anyone can make quite a good quality film on their iPhone,” West emphasised. “If you’ve got a story or message, there’s not much people can do to stop that.

“We’re also encouraging people to go back through their portfolios for historical work,” Nunns added. “It’s an area of interest, to capture the essence of the 80s and 90s at the time.”

Although QueerBee is only available in the UK and Ireland at the moment, Nunns joked that they “do have plans for world domination.” However, this can prove difficult:

“We are still in a world where over 70 countries say its illegal to be gay. What happens if someone streams in another country, what’s the legal impact on us?” Nunns explained.

Still, Nunns and West recognise the necessity for LGBT+ people in these areas to feel supported as opposed to shame, emphasising that feelings of isolation don’t represent reality. They currently are working on translating and subtitling their backlog to improve accessibility.

Sign up to QueerBee here.

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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