Band Ladies Molly Flood

All about all-grrrl punk rock streaming series Band Ladies

An interview with Canadian filmmaker/series creator Molly Flood.

A few decades ago, perhaps even a few years ago, middle-aged women protagonists were a kind of death sentence for most TV shows and movies. It’s not even that these films didn’t get seen, but that they didn’t even get greenlit. Yet, as more women have pushed their way through for a seat in the director’s chair and as the cost of making films has become cheaper (although by no means cheap), a wider diversity of stories have made their way to the screen. For director Molly Flood, her latest offering is the webseries Band Ladies, a six-episode musical comedy about five women who turn their weekly book club meetings into band practice when an improvised drunken performance goes viral.  

Turns out that that’s not so far off from how the show was created — minus the intoxication, I presume. It started when Molly Flood, Kate Fenton and Dana Puddicombe, the three co-creators, took classes together at Second City in Toronto. She says, “we ended up writing a sketch about a band and one of the songs was called “Heavy Flow.” And we had such a great time writing songs about whatever we wanted that we thought, “How can we do this more?” After a year and a half of development and applying for funding, they were ready to “get the show on the road.”

It’s now streaming on Highball TV, a new curated platform that specializes in showing independent features, shorts and (now) webseries. Executive producers of the show as well as distributors, Highball TV helped get the show made, according to Molly Flood. “None of us are huge household names and none of us have produced series before, so it’s really hard to get a distributor on board,” she says, “but short-form content is being paid more attention to now. Webseries used to just live on YouTube, so it’s great to have a platform that will give it a bit more credibility and reach.”

There are quite a few parallels between low-budget filmmaking and punk music. Though low-budget isn’t synonymous with low-res, there is a clear relation between the punk process and DIY filmmaking. When asked about this, Molly Flood says, “I think the show looks great. And the production designer knocked it out of the park every day on a shoestring budget — a web-series budget. But we approached everything from a very punk, DIY — very tape and staples.” 

The music is of course a key part of the show. Flood says that “it was important that the music feel like this was something that they came up with. We only had enough money to do two days in the studio so we banged stuff out pretty fast. And those were also the first two days where we had the whole ensemble together, which was really great.” The creators looked to punk bands like Pussy Riot, Peaches and a young punk band from Toronto called Bad Waitress for inspiration. The music strikes that tricky balance of being both goofy and, well, good. “I think the songs all come from a very sincere place. We wanted the songs to be a forward in the story, so they were part of the story. But also funny! And ridiculous.” The songs, available to stream on Spotify and Apple Music, are unabashedly fun and showcase lyrics like “I don’t eat bread/ I’m sugar free/ But I still want cocaine.” Clearly, oppressive diet culture and punk music mix very well. 

Band Ladies joins a host of new stories about women in music. Flood points to Alex Ross Perry’s Her Smell, The Runaways and Vox Lux for inspiration. “I tried to take a lot of those in,” she says, “and of course we watched a lot of female ensemble comedies, like Girls Trip and Bridesmaids of course is a classic. But I feel like a lot of those films focused on the performance or else things going really badly. But it was really important to us that it was first and foremost Canadian. And that’s inherently pretty DIY in terms of how a scene starts in this country. It’s about the relationships and about reinvention. What we wanted to say was that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself.” ■

Band Ladies is streaming now on Highball TV. See more about the series here.

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