Scriptwriter and journalist Jane Marlow and producer Virginia Orr have launched Donut Films, with the company’s first project, “They Them Us,” being picked up by Canadian LGBTQ+ television network and streaming service OUTtv.
The eight-part returnable drama is a relationship series set among a group of 20-something friends who are exploring their sexuality, identity and gender. Set against the background of a women’s football team, season one follows Suze, a gay woman who is making the journey to a non-binary identity.
“They Them Us” has also been selected as one of 10 in-development projects to be screened at France’s Série Series festival this month. It will be showcased in the festival’s new strand, Spotlight on Trailers by Série Series, which aims to help European producers working on new projects to access partners and financing.
Donut Films, a cross-platform production company focusing on drama and comedy, shot a test-of-concept pilot of “They Them Us” in November 2019 after working with gay, trans, non-binary and straight actors in the development process. Artist, filmmaker and campaigner Fox Fisher from My Genderation also came on board for the pilot as story consultant.
Marlow said: “‘They Them Us’ is a story that reflects how young adults in 2020 are exploring their sexuality and gender identity in more detail and more freely than previous generations. We wanted to make a show with high emotional stakes that is hooky and returnable and also authentic. While ‘They Them Us’ speaks to a specific experience, its appeal lies in the universal theme of identity. Who am I? Where do I belong?”
Marlow’s career spans screenwriting, TV-industry journalism and content production. Her TV career started as a storyliner on “Coronation Street” and she went on to write for U.K. soaps, notably “EastEnders,” “Hollyoaks,” “Doctors” and “Bad Girls.” Marlow is a regular contributor to TV-industry trade publications Broadcast, TBI and World Screen, as well as the Edinburgh TV Festival as an executive producer.
Orr’s career began in luxury fashion retail project management, working with brands such as Ralph Lauren — for whom she launched the first store in Europe — Comme des Garçons, Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein. Orr subsequently established herself as a luxury management consultant working for over 25 years with brands focusing on operational, financial and creative sustainability.
Marlow and Orr have produced short films in a freelance capacity, including “Dancing Alone,” which won Best Actress and Best British Drama at the 2017 Discover Films Awards, and 2018’s “Take Me Back” which won a London Independent Film Award.
Orr said: “Our creative and business skills dovetail well — Jane’s TV knowledge and scriptwriting experience complement my expertise in transforming creative businesses into sound business propositions. I think the deal with OUTtv and the backing of Série Series show that it’s a formula that works, both creatively and commercially.”