A Bay of Plenty teen is working with TVNZ to bring the stories and challenges of queer Kiwis to light.
Rose McMahon, 17, is in the final stages of completing In The Rainbow, with the web series set to be released on June 20.
The young filmmaker is working with state broadcaster Television New Zealand to bring the series to life. She has made seven short films in the past, with the majority of them self-funded.
In the Rainbow explores seven authentic stories about LGBT people coming of age. Each episode has an overarching theme or emotion which also associates with a specific colour of the rainbow.
Rose wants to increase LGBT representation in the media, and tell stories inspired by people’s real-life experiences.
“My passion for filmmaking comes from the fact that I like to be able to share emotions and convey experiences that people can connect to.
“I feel like in a lot of media the LGBT community can be underrepresented. I wanted to make something that was inspired by true stories about actual queer Kiwis.
“I think that other LGBT kids will be able to watch it and relate to it, connecting to the stories being told,” Rose says.
Cast-member Steven Glyde emphasises the importance of queer representation in the media.
“To see yourself reflected in art can have a profound impact on anyone. It makes people feel seen, like their voice and their stories matter and are worth sharing.
“I hope that when people see this they get to see that they’re less alone than they may think,” Steven says.
Prior to writing the script, Rose engaged with young people in-person and through social media to hear their personal stories.
“I used social media so that people could submit anonymous stories. It’s amazing what people open up about when their face isn’t attached to their stories.”
Rose thinks that a common theme carried across many of the true stories was the idea of LGBT people opening up and connecting with others.
“Like when people get the ability to talk about what they are going through, and they realise their family are so supportive of them, even when they think they wouldn’t be.”
“Everyone gets okay, after all the fighting and all the struggle. They come out of the other side alright,” Rose says.
Cast-member Ruby Hansen says she was excited by the idea of bringing a character to life based on a real person.
“Knowing that Jade was based on a real person meant that I had to treat her with a lot of empathy, and do a lot of thorough research on what it would be like to be in her shoes.”
Ruby felt closely connected with Jade, the character she was playing in the series, both of them coming from small towns where ‘queer identity isn’t so readily celebrated’.
“Being from a small, largely conservative town, meant that bigotry, sexism and racism was, and still is prevalent. . . Many of us have had to bear the brunt of that,” Ruby says.