Savannah Rodgers, a senior from Olathe studying film and media studies, has been making her own short films for the past two and a half years. Rodgers has served as a writer, director and producer on most of her projects, among many other roles.
Rodgers is now using her filmmaking experience to take her career to the next level. Her newest project, co-created along with Riley Oregard, is “Poly,” a comedy that follows a group of three polyamorous individuals: AJ, Cricket and Jake. Together, they try to navigate the struggle of leading an unconventional lifestyle in the heart of conservative Midwestern suburbia.
The project will be produced under her own film company, Professional Amateur Productions, which focuses mostly on LGBTQ+ issues, social commentary and feminism. She said she aims for her projects to highlight issues that are not commonly included in mainstream television and film.
“Marginalized people feel underrepresented on TV. I know I’ve never seen a character that I thought represented me on a TV show or in a movie," Rodgers said. "So what I’m trying to do is provide representation and tell interesting stories and kind of subvert expectations through the LGBTQ genre. If they [the audience] have a strong reaction to something I did, then I did my job right.”
The pilot for “Poly” is currently in preproduction, and the funding to produce the project is still being collected via the Seed&Spark New Voice Rally, a crowd funding initiative dedicated to raising money for the production of new independent television programs. In addition, this platform provides increased visibility for the project. In order for the vision of Rodgers and her team to come to fruition, the goal of raising $12,000 must be met. Rodgers said this first step in raising funds is incredibly crucial to the success of the project.
“Entertainment has never, ever been free. I don’t know why people would think that this could be free. There are tangible goals at the end of this campaign. We have a plan," Rodgers said. "We are marketable, and we are trying to build our audience ... If you support our show by contributing funds to this campaign, it will make an important impact that will allow us to make the show because executives don’t think that marginalized folks are going to show up for shows that represent them.”
If sufficient funds are raised via Seed&Spark, the pilot for “Poly” will be shot in the Kansas City area. Rodgers said she intends on entering the finished product into the festival circuit, most notably SeriesFest, an international television festival. If accepted into SeriesFest, “Poly” would has the potential to be picked up by major television producers. The project would also have the potential to earn a straight-to-series order through the media company Fullscreen.
Patrick Rea, producer of “Poly,” has been working with Rodgers on various projects of his own since 2014. Rea said he is confident in Rodgers and this project.
“I think Savannah has a very cool and fresh concept with ‘Poly’ that will lend itself brilliantly to the web series format, and I am very excited to be involved,” Rea said. “Savannah has proved to not only be a very talented up-and-coming filmmaker, but also a great person.”
In the current preproduction stage, the success of “Poly” is still largely dependent on the success of the crowd funding campaign. Without sufficient funds, “Poly” is unlikely to be made. Rodgers said she believes her project is a worthwhile investment that has the ability to positively impact society.
“I think the nature of ‘Poly’ is something that the world needs. There needs to be more LGBTQ representation, intersectional feminism within media, and that’s what I’m striving for," Rodgers said. "I have a lot of confidence now because I’ve done some shorts and they’ve been successful, but I also have the most amazing crew and actors that I work with to where I think that even if everything went to hell, we would have each other and we would have something we’re proud of.”