Director Julie Kalceff tells LOTL what to expect from Season 4 of this super queer web series.

Starting From…Now! Season 4 will premiere on Tuesday 1 March as part of the Mardi Gras Film Festival 2016. Purchase tickets here.

The Australian web series follows the tangled, increasingly complicated lives of four inner-city Sydney lesbians as they struggle to find a place where they belong, and perhaps even someone to love, along the way. 

Director Julie Kalceff tells LOTL about the inspiration for the web series, what to expect from Season 4, and how she came up with the characters. 

You've had phenomenal success online with the first three seasons of Starting From…Now! reaching a global audience of 20 million. Was that even in your wildest dreams when you started out?

When I uploaded the first ever episode to YouTube almost two years ago, I certainly didn’t envisage that the series would amass over 20 million views. I knew there was a demand for quality lesbian content and hoped we’d find an audience, but the success it’s had online has far surpassed anything I’d imagined.

What was the inspiration for the series in the first place?  And why did you decide to go down the web series path?

Creating Starting From Now was a direct response to the lack of diversity in mainstream media. When I was growing up, LGBTI representation on screen was either non-existent or blatantly homophobic. Things haven’t changed as much as they should have, and there is still a distinct lack of diversity on Australian television. Making a web series meant there weren’t the traditional gatekeepers preventing us from reaching an audience. Unlike other forms of communication, online allows you to have direct access to viewers and, in our case, prove that there is a global audience hungry for this type of content.

What can we expect from Season 4?

Season 4 kicks off three months after the end of Season 3. Each of the characters has been trying to find some stability during that period but circumstances have made that more difficult for some than others. Season 4 is darker than previous seasons. We explore topics not usually addressed in web series but, having said that, the darker storylines are balanced with lighter moments and some really interesting new characters.

These women, like all humans are inherently flawed, how did you come up with these complex characters?

It was important to me to create characters who were flawed, complex human beings who weren’t defined by their sexuality but who just happened to be lesbians. I find it frustrating when an LGBTI character is presented on screen and their sexuality is a source of conflict or angst. This was the starting point and the characters grew from there. They have also evolved over time. One of the most rewarding aspects of making five seasons of the series is working closely with the core cast (Bianca Bradey, Sarah de Possesse, Rosie Lourde, and Lauren Orrell). We have an exceptional cast and each of them has brought great depth and insight to their character, which has directly contributed to the evolution and complexity you see on screen.

How do you find the balance between highlighting those flaws but also making them likeable; people you want good things to happen to?

I think likeability comes from empathy… understanding why a character does what they do. You may not agree with some of the choices a character makes, but if you at least understand why they’ve made that choice, you can identify with them in some way. Also, they’re not bad people. They make mistakes but they’re all doing the best they can at any given time. 

You’ve really put some of the characters through the wringer in the first three seasons. Is there light at the end of the tunnel for a character like Kristen, who really hit rock bottom in Season 3?

Without giving away too many spoilers, there is hope for each of the characters and light at the end of the tunnel. They may not take the most direct route to that light, but it’s there and, hopefully, they reach it eventually.

You have quite the shipping war online between the different characters – especially regarding who Steph should ultimately be with. Is that an interesting aspect to buy into for you and the fans?

A large section of our audience is very vocal about who they think should be together. Another benefit of creating a web series and having the opportunity to make five seasons over a period of two and a half years, is that we have direct access to this information while we’re making the series. The first season of Starting From Now set this up. It became the basis on which the show was built and also a way for the audience to become invested in the characters. That then allowed us to explore other aspects of character, while keeping the shifting relationships as a primary source of conflict.

In Season 3, you really ramped up the guest stars with the fabulous Heather Mitchell, Kylie Watson and Clementine Mills. Will any of them be returning, and do you have some new guest stars we should know about?

I’ve been extremely lucky to work with so many talented actors during this process. Not only are our core cast incredible actors but so too are the additional cast members that have joined the series, particularly, as you said, in Season 3. Kylie Watson and Clementine Mills will be back in Season 4, but you’ll have to wait until Season 5 to see the iconic Heather Mitchell reprise her role as Darcy’s mother, Elizabeth. We have extended the cast even further in Season 4 to include the amazing Julia Billington (of All About E) and Harvey Kaska Zielinski (of Zoe.Misplaced). We’ve also been extremely lucky to work with Gretel Killeen and DJ Sveta, who make cameo appearances in Season 4.

How excited are you about having your Season 4 World Premiere next week at Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival? And why should people come?

Having the World Premiere of Season 4 at Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival is incredible. This is the first time anyone in the world will see Season 4 and it’s the first time Starting From Now will be seen on a cinema screen. Producer Rosie Lourde and I have been working toward this for some time now. We’ve also been working with the screen agencies and the funding we’ve received from Screen Australia and Screen NSW has meant that every aspect of Season 4 is of a much higher quality than we’ve produced in the past. We’ve also aligned with IVF Australia, who are our presenting partner for this screening, and have built an ongoing relationship with ACON, who do exceptional work in the community. The screening on Tuesday 1 March will not only be an opportunity to share what we’ve created with a hometown audience, but it will be followed by a Q&A and an after-party where fans can meet the cast face-to-face.