Berlin. February 28th, March 2nd.

We’re here. We’re here to explore one of the most iconic, most futuristic, most useful “movement” of our generation. And yes, I call it “a movement” because frankly, that is what Netflix is; revolutionising how we watch TV & Film.

A journey which began with a few dozen of DVD rentals in 1997 has now evolved into more than 90 original productions in various stages of development all over the world. These include films, (starring names like Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Brad Pitt, might I add) documentaries, as well as TV shows, which is what Netflix is all about: Constantly providing good content to stream to & from across the continent.

However what I’m more excited about is another movement within the movement: a tribe of women. Netflix has opened a new era that differentiates itself from TV shows of the 2000s; House, Dexter, 24, The Sopranos, Nip/Tuc; all shows with male- dominance. While the likes of The OA, The Crown, Orange is the New Black and Chelsea Does have already made strong statements on the true power of women, new productions are about to back them up in the most versatile way possible. Though politics, and leaders, and relentless arguments claim the contrary, it is, and will be, the era of females.

We begin our 3 day journey with the screening of 13 Reasons Why. This is not a high school drama that explains reasons why someone is in love with someone else, as you might have guessed. It’s about the logic behind why one high-school student commits suicide. There is nothing weak or watered out about it. As we watched the screening, which will be streaming on Netflix by the time this goes to print, I couldn’t help but realize that what we used to call “dramatic” back in high school has now changed drastically: Bullying, gossip and parental issues are not as innocent as they used to be – they push to ending lives. Also, teens become adults at such a young age that these are no longer issues only few people can relate to. And there is no better character to walk you through these than Hannah.

Katherine Langford & Dylan Minette / 13 REASONS WHY
did you get into a character like this – one of them dead, one of them having lost someone they loved?

K: First of all we were really lucky in pre-production. We had a really solid rehearsal process with Tom McCarthy. I think that made a huge difference at the start, just because he really got the ball rolling and set us up for this story that we are about to tell.

So you know the first two episodes you’re kind of getting into it and finding who they are just at a base level… But I think quite honestly just throughout the show and working throughout the story it came down to just having these characters that were written so wholly and so well-rounded… Brian Yorkey did an incredible job of taking what Jay Asher had in the book and then really fleshing them out. So it kind of made it easy; at least for me it was easy because half way through you had worked with these characters for 3 months for 16 hours a day and you were so close to them and it just became thing where you just felt it…

D: That’s exactly the same for me. I mean especially because obviously he wants to be a voice for Hannah because she is gone and kind of bring her justice and as the season was going on I started to feel that too. I was reading these things that were happening to Hannah and I would be pissed off just like Clay. So I definitely started to feel more connected by the end.

Normally, from an acting stand point, before an emotional scene I get really nervous about it like “How am I going to do this?” But on this, it was effortless. I was able to feel it so much so…

Do you think that this story is better for as far as binge- watching is concerned?

K: I think Netflix is going to serve this so well. I can’t really imagine it on being on any other kind of medium because I feel like they were a, able to give us the creative lead way that we needed to really do what we we’re doing and I don’t think you necessarily find that on normal TV.

As for how people are going to watch it… there is a lot in there. And so I think people are going to watch this at their own pace. Some episodes you might want to decompress afterwards. However there is always that under current of “I want to keep going, and I want to know what happens.” Because I think halfway you’re so invested in the characters that you just need to see what happens.

D: There are a lot of “press play” moments, like at the end of episode 1 and you go “Well I kind of have to watch the second episode now.” At least for me. However particularly in the last 5 episodes, I think that people are going to have a hard time continuing. I think people are going to want to take a break towards the end.

Have you ever been a bully / bullied in high school?

D: I hope I wasn’t… No, I didn’t really go to a proper high school so I didn’t really get to have the experience…

K: I was always a really left of center kid so I didn’t really fit in anywhere. For the first kind of few years of my school experience, I went to an all-girls school so there was always that snarky feeling that I dealt with personally that I felt and disliked. Luck for me, I moved high schools and I really had a great high school experience towards the end.

I think bullying is something that people experience whether they are experiencing themselves or they are watching it. And I think it’s a really interesting thing to look at more closely because sometimes if you’re someone who get’s bullied, you will watch bullying going on and you will kind of be okay with it because you know if you stand up you might be bullied. I think it’s important for people to look at that and say “Well why are we standing by, what is the big deal about it being different?”

Actress Katherine Langford speaks on stage at the 13 Reasons Why Panel during the Netflix See What’s Next Event at WECC on March 1, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.
And what do you think was the turning point for Hannah where she decided, “Yes, I am going to commit suicide.”? What could she have done differently?

K: I think when people are watching this, the great thing is that, I feel like so many people have gone through what Hannah has gone through and they might be going through as they are watching it. And the cool thing about watching someone else go through it in a TV series that you’re invested in is that you can see the opportunities that she could have taken or you can see the places where she could have made different choices, or where people could have reached out.

Playing the character is kind of different, you just follow where she is headed. For me, I felt like Hannah’s turning point was in episode 12, but I want to say there is still hope. And at 13 when she has spoken to Mr. Porter she feels like all her hope is gone. Even then, personally as Katherine I look at it and go – well I don’t want to ruin it… But she speaks to Robert where there is an opportunity there where she could have spoken to people at school…

I want to say that when people are in that position, they literally feel like “I can’t tell my parents, I can’t tell the people at school, I can’t tell the teachers.” If that happens, I want to say to people, call hotline! That may sound really bland advice, but I’m serious. Because once you reach out, there is potential for the future.

Dylan?

D: Towards the end, it’s a multitude of things that happen one after the other that with all the stuff that Hannah… – she has so many stops and starts, she goes through a lot, but then she has better days. She tries again, she tries something new. Towards the end, the way things line up is so tragic, so unfortunate so I think it’s the combination of many things.

Like Katherine said, I do think it’s brilliant that in the finale, you specifically see the paths that she could take. This is another way that they don’t glamorize this. Because you don’t go, –

K: She is not a hero.

D: Yeah exactly. In the end you go “No you could have -…” People are going to realise “Oh my God, she should have, she had so many opportunities…” And they make a point to show that in the finale. That’s what makes it all more heart-breaking. You sit there and wish she hadn’t done that…

When you start watching the show, you know the ending. And yet you’re so invested in the characters; you’re rooting for them, you’re rooting for the relationship knowing she is going to die in the end. What do you think it is in the story that makes it like this?

K: It’s so strange because I’ve watched it and I felt exactly the same way as you did. It’s not a secret that she is dead and we kind of establish that in the beginning and yet you find yourself some way kind of rooting for her to live, you want the ending to change. Personally I think that is partly because we were able to flesh out these characters and you’re not just watching for the storyline wanting to visually see scenes but you’re watching because you care about the characters and you care about what happens to them. You care about what is happening to Clay and you care about Clay and Hannah’s relationship, you care about Hannah and you want her to keep fighting. So for me it’s character investment.

D: Exactly. When it starts I think people are going to be invested in the mystery and people will want to get to the end to see what happens and how Hannah get’s to that point. But once you get to the middle of the season you care about Hannah so much at that point that you just all of a sudden remember the ending and you go “Wait, Hannah is actually going to die and I don’t want that to happen!” and then you’re more scared to continue watching. You go through many ups and downs during how you view that. It’s really compelling and pretty fascinating.

The F Word is a favorite at Netflix: Fabulous, funny, formidable, fiery, fascinating, fancy, free, fighting, FEMALE. As Chelsea Handler takes the stage along with other female leads from Girlboss and Orange is the New Black, she comments on how Netflix “… thrusts women into the forefront like never before.” Her show shies away from her previous persona who made a living out of humurous celebrity moments, and focuses on politics. “It’s a good thing to highlight what we have in common. We need all the loud voices to be loud and strong right now.” And believe me, that is precisely what they all do.

Orange is the New Black, as Ted Sarandos, the Chief Content Editor puts it, is “Everything TV didn’t want to show; all sizes, colors and sorts of characters of women.” It’s true, this movement supports unlikeable female characters because let’s face it, we all have our moments.

Not all female characters are victims, and not all female characters are “regular.” Las Chicas del Cable is a Spain TV production that dictates a story of 4 women that team up against arising problems circa 1920s. Okja is a movie by Bong Joon Ho, about a little girl searching for a special friend with visuals that will garnish your imagination. Glow, a.k.a Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling “Puts spandex and big hair back in our life.” Hot Girls Wanted, produced by Rashida Jones, celebrates the porn industry in the context of females that run it. And as for Girlboss, well that’s the achievable dream.

 

Panel during the Netflix See What’s Next Event at WECC on March 1, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.

Some of you must have read the book by Sophia Amoruso; the story of a teeny tiny company called Nasty Gal, only one of the biggest online retail stores in the world… Britt Robertson, who will portray this larger-than-life yet just-one-of-us character, and she has all the peculiar specialties to do so; starting with her strong, undeniable sense of presence.

Do you have anything in common with this character that you had to bring out in yourself or was it completely new waters for you?

I would say I’m like the moderate version of Sophia; you know I’m not out there stealing rugs, throwing tantrums at my work space, but I have all this stuff happening inside of me. I do feel confused, and struggling. I’m constantly try to figure out what I want out of life and don’t know how to get it necessarily but I’m driven and passionate, and all of those things, which is a very similar experience to Sophia’s character. I just don’t know what my life is going to be like yet. I’m trying to make it the best version of my life that can be, whatever that means!

The book makes it sound like it’s okay to fail…

Yes!

Can you talk a little bit about that?

That is a huge theme in the show, which is something I didn’t really consider when making it. When you’re filming a TV show it’s completely different than when I’m watching it or talking about it because you don’t think about themes, you don’t think about “Trying to be the boss of your life,” you just play the moments as what they are. But now looking back on it, I realize, one of the biggest lessons I learned during this project is that it is cool to fail. In fact, dare to fail! “Dare to suck!” as our co-creator says. And why that is important is because if you don’t dare to do it, you’re just going to be complacent. You’re going to be satisfied with things that you’re good at, and why not reach for more? Broaden your horizons. See the world. Get messy.

What do you make of this general movement towards feminism in Netflix & the rest of the TV & cinema world? Because I think there is a thin line between owning it and actually doing it…

Yeah, exactly! I think it’s important to make the point that feminism is not “Females rule, men suck!” It’s equality. For me, I think it is a fine like. I’m not one who has ever talked about “What it’s like being a woman.” Chelsea made a point about it at the panel yesterday: She’s been doing it for a long time, she knows what it is like to be a woman, let’s stop talking about it. But unfortunately for us, we do have to speak about it, because people think “Oh, we just want to see women as the mom, or the girlfriend.” There are all these boxes that have been created, and we’re trying to build more boxes, and find more characters.

Because that is what the human experience is! It’s not so pretty and perfect and similar to everyone else’s experience. It’s diverse. That’s what it’s about; giving opportunity to tell stories that are unlike stories that already have been told.

I’d like to talk a little bit about current habits of watching a show / the movies compared to when our generation was younger… What do you make of this new approach that kind of encourages binge-watching?

I think you have to binge-watch this show. I didn’t, and I wish I did, because it really is set up for that. You follow this character’s journey in a very specific way. I watched the first 4 episodes, and then by the time I watched the 5th episode I was like “Oh yea, because that happened on the 3rd episode.” So you have to track it all, and it makes it more difficult. Whereas if you watch it as a really long movie, it’s an easy watch. It’s entertaining; it’s a comedy! It’s not that hard.

What are some other shows that you watch?

I binge-watched Santa Clarita Diet all the way through, whcih is actually one of the first times I’ve done that. It’s like, who has the time, you know?

How much do you think TV really affects people? What would you like the affect of #Girlboss to be on people?

Well I like that question. It’s not that I want it to change the world in a dramatic way, but it did have an affect on me. I became more aware of the choices that I make in my life and how to get the things that I want out of life… So it made me consider not letting the world dictate what my life is going to be.

Hopefully people will get all kinds of stuff from it because there are many themes. Even if it’s just like “That girl is a brat. Maybe I shouldn’t be so bratty in my own life.”

How would you say a girl boss is different than a guy boss?

I will say that Kay Cannon, our creator always says that she wanted the “girl” in Girlboss to be about youth, not gender. Because it really is about this woman growing an maturing. She starts out in this one place and she get’s someplace else. But, to your real point, from my experience, since I’ve had a lot of guy bosses and girl bosses on this show, there is something really wonderful about having a female boss… Same about men, actually, because there are wonderful things that compliment the job from each party. But I will say specifically to women, and specifically to Kay [Cannon], Charlize [Theron] and Sophia [Amoruso] they were all so patient and so kind. And, a lot of them are mothers, so they know how to handle a family. That is what a set is in my circumstance, because I work with 150 people every day so it’s nice to know how to handle a family and to take care of little departments. Women are really great at paying attention to detail. I’m not saying that men aren’t, they have other qualities. I think there are benefits to both.

Do you have difficulties when you have to let go of a character?

There’s been very few characters I’ve been that into, to be honest with you. By the time I’m done with it I’m like “Ugh, get rid of her!” But for Sophia, I remember saying every day to Kay and Ellie, who plays Annie, my best friend on the show, “I know when the show is done, I’m going to miss it so much.” And I’m going to be thinking “God I wish I enjoyed it so much more in that moment.” But it’s a difficult job, and a difficult character to play so it was kind of a struggle for me at the time, but I loved it so much and I knew I would miss it. Hopefully we get a second season!

As I drive through this perplexing city, I see posters stating “Make feminism a threat again!” Obviously, it’s not just Netflix backing this statement up, but they are one of the few when it comes to such a creative, forceful industry. I think about Ted’s words when he was asked what makes a great story in his opinion. “It’s a place I want to spend a lot of time in, populated with people I care about,” he said. It’s true: Netflix has become a great storyteller with no geographical boundaries, and the women included in those stories are no different than any one of us: Capable, secure women with every day superpowers.