Tonnette Stanford
Tonnette Stanford

Gay, Lesbian and straight dating has never been so Queer.

Tonnette is a Sydney based writer and director. She is a graduate of the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS), the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

Her films have won numerous awards and have screened at over 160 festivals internationally and nationally, including Oscar recognised festivals.

The Vicious and the Delicious and Frontbum Dancin‘ are distributed by Frameline across North America and have been released on DVD in Germany, Austria and Switzerland through Salzgeber & Co. Home Entertainment.

Her feature documentary, Holding Hands is distributed by CFMDC Distribution in Canada and Slut – The Musical is distributed by Ouat Media Inc. Canada. Recently, Slut- The Musical has been sold to Canal +France and Canal +Spain and has reached #1 on iTunes as part of the compilation, Fab Five, in the Short Film section in Canada and Ireland.

LOTL sits down with Tonette to discuss her latest web series ” Love Bytes”

Tell us about Love Bytes

Love Bytes is an LGBT comedy web series about three young housemates and their dating misadventures in the modern hetero-flexible world of Sydney. It is a show that celebrates diversity and sexuality through the universal experience of searching for love.
Late last year we released two pilot episodes which have received almost one million views and now we have launched a Kickstarter campaign to complete season one. We are so excited to release more episodes. The housemates are in for many more shocking dates and hilarious antics.

What inspired you to create the show?

My sister and I created the show together and it’s inspired by real-life dating stories. Last year, my best friend, Michelle, was determined to find love and she went on 40 dates in 12 months and still ended up single. These dates were so outrageous, so hilarious, yet so relatable that I felt compelled to make a web series out of them.  Her life stories are a real gift to the world.
It was also sparked by our desire to see more realistic representations of the LGBT community on our screens. Love Bytes is queer content made by queers and for queers.

Where do we watch the two pilot episodes?

To watch the two pilots please go to 
“Herpes of the Lips,” the first pilot, tackles what’s become a digital and universal dilemma: fake profile pictures.
The second pilot, “Justin Beaver” explores what happens when a precious family heirloom gets lost in the most intimate of places.

Your background?

My sister and I are from Sydney. We have been making queer films together for over 10 years and we are dedicated to increasing the visibility of the LGBT community on screen. Our previous works have screened at over 160 festivals including academy award recognised festivals and some of our award-winning titles include: Holding Hands (co-directed by Katherine Wilkinson), The Vicious & the Delicious and Slut – The Musical.

Your coming out story?

When I was 23 I was dumped by a girl that I was infatuated with. My mum picked me up from the train station and she asked why I was crying. I bawled ‘Sally (pseudonym) dumped me!’ Mum said “I didn’t know you two were together! Well, you’re with your family now.” Then she proceeded to cry for 6 months. Especially after Sally and I got back together. She was worried I would change or end up lonely, but now she has completed embraced it.
My mother now thinks she invented gayness. After a bottle of cheap chardonnay, she declared it, stomping up and down the hallway, marching like a soldier. Well, they say it comes from the mother. Both I and my sister turned out gay. And we’ve never looked back. Thanks, Ma!

How did you find your actors? Was it important for you to cast queer actors?

It helps that I watch many theatres and have a lot of creative friends. I actually auditioned a lot of actors for the show because it was so important to not only find brave actors that have excellent comic timing but could bring authenticity to the roles. It was very important for us to show realistic representations of queer dating and that’s why we only cast lesbian and gay actors to play those roles.
In fact, the actors that play Sam Fox and Jade are real-life girlfriends. This made filming the sex scenes a little less awkward. They have been together for many years, which meant an instant connection and chemistry didn’t have to be manufactured.

How do people support the project?

We really encourage people to watch the two pilots and if they want to see more, please pledge through Kickstarter. There are some fantastic rewards and all money raised will go directly into production costs to complete season one.  We have a target of $12,000 for the next two episodes and a stretch goal of $18,000 for an additional bonus episode. To support the show, please go to our website