When newly retired ex-cop Tracey Kimmel discovers the body of a teenage boy on her morning run, her razor-sharp instincts tell her this was no accident. As she delves deeper into the case, she uncovers a secret that threatens her family, her community, and her own life.

Producer Chelsea Thistlewaite and Director Alex Cullivan spoke to Melbourne WebFest about a new breed of crime show, Without a Tracey (AUS).

How did you come to decide on your subject matter?

Alex: At first, Without A Tracey seems like the crime procedurals we grew up with on Australian TV. The familiarity of the format allowed me to stretch and demand more of the genres at play- I wanted to find light, and honour the dark in what was a terrifying time for the LGBTQI+ community. Pre-Plebiscite Australia was a time of deep love, connection and pride but also a time of great fear for me and my community. This is the era and bittersweet feeling from which Without A Tracey was born.

Chelsea: I knew I had to produce Without A Tracey from the moment Alex said to me ‘I have this idea about a gay cop.’ Clearly the series bloomed into something much more but it was immediately apparent to me that this a story audiences hadn’t seen before. Alex’s ability to subvert and elevate genre simultaneously is second to none, and her idea to create a comedy from these incredibly dark moments while maintaining the heart of the story was something that hooked me as an audience member as well as a creative.

If they only took one thing, one message, what would you like the audience to take away
from the series?

Chelsea: This series is for everyone! Lesbian detectives, small town kids who are bullied for being different. Teenagers, city kids, anyone who felt like they haven’t been seen, heard or understood before.

Without a Tracey Trailer

How important was it for you to authentically portray the LGBT relationships seen in this

Chelsea: The Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey campaigns were occurring while Alex and I were moving through development and into pre-production, and because of the vitriol my community was experiencing online and in person I felt even more compelled to tell this story. I wanted to show Tracey’s family, her partnership, her career, her relationships, community, to show this queer family in all its detail, nuance and normalcy.

What was your greatest challenge creating the series?

Alex and Chelsea: The budget!

What is your favourite part of the series?

Alex and Chelsea: The keep cups, sustainability is sexy!

Why did you choose the web series format?

Chelsea: I was passionate about developing Without a Tracey as an online series for a number of reasons. I knew that we could push the creative in any direction we choose, answering only to ourselves, and I knew that due to the elevated standard of the final product, that it would stand out amongst a crowded market, and find a large audience of international viewers.
Alex and I both agreed that due to the high-wire nature of the story and script that we wanted the production value to be as high as possible in order to bring gravitas and heart to the forefront. This was realised by our tireless crew over an 11 day shoot; on location in the Blue Mountains and in Sydney. I am incredibly proud that many of our crew are members of the
LGBTQI+ community. We are telling our story our way.