Director & Writer
Top 3 films of all time:
It's so hard because I have so many! But if I had to pick three, i'd say: Titanic, Sideways, Parent Trap.
How did you first get into filmmaking?
I got into filmmaking by being a performer myself and coming up through a community theater background. Once I got to high school and was able to get my hands on a DSLR camera and I started making really bad short films that I would write, direct, produce and star in. I got obsessed with the process of making a short film and trying to capture the perfect performance. With live performance (theater) what you see is what you get... there's no redoing anything. There's something special about the nature of theater but I became more drawn to the forgiving nature and second chances that filmmaking provides -- and of course the discovery of how many ways you could tell the same story.
"I became more drawn to the forgiving nature and second chances that filmmaking provides."
"I learn more about myself and my queer identity every day by working with the most vulnerable, beautiful people."
What was one of your favorite filmmaking/creative moments you are most proud of that stuck with you?
When I was directing my queer dark comedy short film "Psycho Baby" I remember feeling really proud when one of my leading actors, Truman Flyer, gave the most heart-wrenching performance in one of our final scenes of the shoot. Truman had no prior acting experience when I cast her as Sadie... but that really excited me. She didn't have all these rules for herself the way some more experienced actors do. Watching Truman overcome the emotional obstacles of her character was especially rewarding because we were in it together. I love watching actors hit peak performance. When they're the best they've ever been. That really sticks with me as a director.
In general, I feel the most proud when I get to experience crew and cast members feeling excited about something they've accomplished — if that was a set build, a great performance, or a costume they made by hand — I always feel the most proud of my work when other creatives feel accomplished in theirs.
The heart of the Film Pin Society is community and camaraderie. Can you talk a little about that as it relates to your identity and the LGBTQ+ community?
I'm so fortunate to be surrounded by so many talented LGBTQ+ actors, creatives, and crew. Without my queer community I'd be so lost. In college I made a comedic gay web series called Chapstick because I was on YouTube one day wanting to watch something narrative, funny, and gay without the entire storyline of the show being centric to the characters "gayness" — a tall order (I know). I wanted to watch something short form that wasn't a sad "coming out" story. And when I couldn't find what I was looking for — I decided to make it myself.
Immediately I turned to my queer community in Chicago (where I lived and went to school at the time) and everyone was so supportive in making Chapstick happen. Two seasons and 22 episodes later, we had an acclaimed, VICE Magazine raved, comedic LGBTQ+ web series that had been watched by half a million people.
That couldn't have ever happened without the hundreds of people that worked on the show or without the support of my LGBTQ+ community in Chicago. It takes collective of people sharing a common goal to create something special. I've found my voice in making LGBTQ+ content alongside my community. I learn more about myself and my queer identity every day by working with the most vulnerable, beautiful people. Find your community, raise each other up, and hold on tight!
"It's essential that we include everyone in the conversations of tv, film, and beyond. Diverse people and their stories have always been here and have always wanted to be included. "
How is LGBTQ+ representation important in the industry?
It's SO important! People need to see themselves represented in media. It's unfair to portray the world in such a limited way because not everyone is straight, not everyone is white, not everyone considers themselves male or female. It's essential that we include everyone in the conversations of tv, film, and beyond. Diverse people and their stories have always been here and have always wanted to be included. I'm so thrilled to be alive as the focus shifts and we see more representation across the board. Finally there's interest in diverse people and their stories. It's about time! And we still have a long way to go.
What LGBTQ+ filmmaker or creator should we follow?
There's so many amazing LGBTQ+ filmmakers I could pick but I'd have to say my two favorites right now are Emma Seligman and Amara Cash. Seligman is one to keep an eye on and I'm really excited to see what she does next since "Shiva Baby" which was one of my favorite films in the last few years. As far as Amara Cash goes — I saw her film "Daddy Issues" in 2018 at OutFest and really enjoyed it.
What is the best advice you would give to an LGBTQ+ person looking to get into your field?
Get started right away! Don't wait for the "perfect" time because there's never a better time to do anything than the present. You should start by enlisting the help and support of your friends and community. Ask them to make a short film with you... and just have fun with it. Learn by doing. Tell stories about your life and lived experiences. Work with likeminded individuals. Find your voice through your truth and then share your findings with all of us.
What pin from our collection speaks to you and why?
They're all so cute! But I'd say the Doc Camera Enamel Pin speaks to me that camera been my workhorse camera for years now, but it immediately made me happy when I saw that pin! My camera and I have been through many projects together so I couldn't help but get a little nostalgic!
How can we learn more about you?