“Wedlock” is a structured, unromantic tale of two perfectly similar friends attempting to engage in everlasting love with the least amount of spark possible. The tale of Fiona and Dave is set within a single office where they partake in couples therapy in the hopes that Dr. Jay will bring them together in matrimony through their systemized and bound manual designed to guide each session’s focus. Featuring Mark Duplass of “Safety Not Guaranteed” and Rob Corddry of “The Daily Show,” each episode is full of comedic surprises that show viewers of just how obscure Fiona and Dave are.
I had the opportunity to speak with Jennifer Lafleur, creator and star of “Wedlock,” last Wednesday to discuss some aspects of the show, how she got her start, and what it’s like to work both in front of and behind the camera. Originally, Jennifer went to school and earned her Master’s in acting where she went on to perform in both classical and experimental theater. Before 2005, she worked exclusively in the theater, performing traditional works like Shakespeare, but Jennifer also enjoyed the experimental side of theater, saying she appreciated its “structure and poeticism, the whole pushing the boundaries idea.” For one particular piece with the Sister Sylvester Theater, in New York, she and others performed in an abandoned convent forcing the audience to be a part of the scene by moving each act into different rooms and having the audience trail along with them.
The transition from stage to camera came during her first film acting role on the set of “The Midnight Swim,” released this year and directed by Sarah Adina Smith. Jennifer claims it was “a very serious and dramatic role, but in between shots, [Sarah] wanted to make a movie of just my [hilarous] outtakes.” Jennifer explained, “my personality is much more silly and it’s just so much more fun to do comedy than these heavy, and dramatic roles.” She enjoys her roles as lead actor, producer, and creator, explaining that there’s more power with the creative side of filmmaking.
Part of the intrigue of “Wedlock” are the short episodes, minimal to no setting change, and low budget. There is something to be said for a team who can create a story within five minutes, have few visual changes, and maintain viewers’ interest. But it works because its dialogue and performances are engaging, more so than flashy sets or dramatic camera shots. The short episodes were inspired by the idea of the instant gratification of the age we live in. Jennifer said her and the team came to the conclusion that the show should be filmed in one location, stating “It’s cheap, it forces you to work with a limited space and be more creative.” Indeed, the show was filmed in one house in Silver Lake (California) over the course of only four days.
The comedy seen throughout “Wedlock” is the sort of comedy that makes the viewer cringe in disbelief, or hide under a blanket—similar to the feelings audiences may get in “The Office” or “Parks and Recreation.” Jennifer explained that, “that’s the kind of comedy that I like, I respond to people who are playing real intentions and have real passions and playing it true to their characters. Dave and Fiona, that’s how they would play themselves. We needed to be true to them.”
Finally, Jennifer spoke on her experience as a woman in the film industry, and as a woman in comedy. She explained, “It’s so interesting, it’s really part of the conversation today. People are starting to realize anything boys can do, girls can do too. I don’t feel [the gender differences] on a day-to-day basis. A lot of men in the comedy industry have an awareness that women around them are just as funny and just as smart. There’s this greater conversation happening in bigger entertainment, women in the industry, people are getting excited and shifting the dialogue to equality, which should have happened decades ago, females in the protagonist roles. I wanted to do that for myself, as well as the other ladies in their roles on [“Wedlock”]. Men rock and women rock as long as we’re working together to make it equal.”
Jennifer may not be a household name in entertainment yet, but her story, web series, and comments on women in the industry add to the overall conversation of gender equality in media. So be sure to check out the new web series “Wedlock” currently available on Vimeo, and available on Filmbuff at the end of this month! Projects like this need public support to move forward.