Please introduce yourself and give us a brief description of Womb Envy. I’m Charlie David, producer and owner of Border2Border Entertainment. Border2Border Entertainment produces and promotes a unique brand of award-winning, critically acclaimed digital, film, and television projects for the LGBTQ and Ally audience. Border2Border Entertainment currently pursues a digital first strategy through the production, procurement and distribution of short and long form documentaries, scripted and lifestyle series, audiobooks, voice recordings and branded video.
Womb Envy is a unique project in that it is being created concurrently for two Canadian broadcaster owned SVOD platforms – AMI-tv and OUTtvGo. The broadcasters approached us to create a series that would engage and serve their very different audiences. Persons with disabilities with a focus on the blind/partially sighted for AMI-tv and the LGBTQ+ population for OUTtvGO. In addition to having the challenge of serving these two diverse audiences we are the first production company to write and produce a scripted series using IDV (Integrated Described Video).
The purpose of creating a series from the onset of writing with IDV incorporated is to ensure a level playing field for the consumption and enjoyment of the show by a sighted and partially sighted/blind audience. In other words – everyone is invited, no one is left behind in comprehension.
Diversity and inclusion are top of mind for us and in addition to persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ participation we also have a focus within Womb Envy of storytelling with and for queer Black people as well as inclusion of roles for women over the age of 60 for which employment opportunities are unfortunately often diminished.
Can you tell us what it means to have “womb envy”? Womb Envy is about a sympathetic pregnancy. It’s an actual documented physiological phenomenon whereby a man develops the physical, mental and emotional aspects of a pregnancy due to increased empathy for a pregnant partner. It’s called couvade syndrome. Incredible right?
In our series, when a gay burnt-out party boy’s estranged straight small-town best friend shows up expecting him to play daddy to her pregnant belly, even a beautiful blind lover and fairy drag queen can’t stop the womb envy. Womb Envy is an Mpreg romantic comedy.
Your series is described as an “Mpreg romantic comedy”. Can you explain what this means and what people can expect to see on the show? First couvade syndrome and now Mpreg right? What are these terms and what do they mean!? Mpreg is a highly popular deep niche of fiction, fan fiction, and entertainment in which men have the ability to get pregnant. We didn’t know how PASSIONATE this audience segment was or just how DEEP this niche was until we started our research. If you’re not in the know, you can certainly be forgiven for this going over your head. However a google search for Mpreg results in nearly 9 million results. There is a hungry, underserved and enthusiastic audience who wants to see men get pregnant. Our comedy Womb Envy is here to scratch that itch!!
What inspired you to tell this story and why did you feel it was important to explore these themes? Champagna, a Toronto drag queen who we’ve worked with on our television series Drag Heals, created the concept for the show and Mark Keller is the screenwriter. This is really their bizarre, wonderful, brain baby and I’m happy to help be a doula as the producer! My mandate and mission at Border2Border Entertainment is really to shine the light and hand the mic to underrepresented creators and make content for underserved audiences. Womb Envy checks a lot of boxes that are really exciting for me.
We are making queer content, we’re making accessible content, we’re creating conversations that change the dial on cis gendered, non-binary, trans and queer bodies. And most importantly to me, we’re providing a BIG sand box in which to play and inviting more and more people to join us. We’re working hard to ensure that at each stage of a production we’re inclusive. We don’t make the kind of stuff that most companies make and I’m really proud of that.
You have received support from Bell Fund for previous projects such as Avocado Toast, Dating Unlocked and Drag Heals. What has it been like working with the Bell Fund in developing your projects, and how has their support been instrumental in seeing these projects come to life? The Bell Fund has been a strategic partner and incredible support for the growth of my business and the creation of our work. I honestly don’t know that it would have been possible to make Avocado Toast the series (now in its second season), Dating Unlocked or Drag Heals (now in its third season) without the Bell Fund. I don’t say that lightly at all. Having the support for both the production and marketing of these stories has been the difference between them getting made or not making them.
When we speak of LGBTQ content, homes for shows created with and by women and with persons with disabilities, there is still unfortunately huge barriers and very few homes. We only have a few doors we can knock on with any confidence in terms of broadcasters and digital platforms who will rally behind the work.
That’s changing, slowly, but I do have hope that the shows we’ve been creating for over a decade that have ALWAYS been fringe are finding more acceptance and an appetite on the side of commissioners who see there is an audience.
Can you speak to the importance of institutions like the Bell Fund in supporting a series like this, and what it means for creators wanting to tell this kind of story? In addition to each project individually, as a production company, the Bell Fund has helped us steadily grow in our business practices and made us a better, stronger competitor in this challenging industry. It’s constant adaptation, evolution and agility in order to survive as any producer worth their salt can attest. The Bell Fund has ensured we’ve had a solid foundation with these shows to experiment, to be daring, and to take some creative risks and for all of that I’m humbled and grateful to be a recipient.
Find out more about the Bell Fund here.