Director, Writer, Producer
Happy Together (Wong Kar-wai)
Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash)
Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger)
How did you first get into filmmaking?
I got into filmmaking because of having an urgent need to tell a story and show characters I had not seen on film. So my best friend Harry Dodge and I decided to write, co-direct and co-star in the first feature I made (By Hook or By Crook). We home-schooled ourselves and had a brilliant cast and crew around us, some of which had a lot of experience and some who were just amazing artists and were fast learners. I think we didn't know what we were getting into, thank god, or we might not have done it.
"I got into filmmaking because of having an urgent need to tell a story and show characters I had not seen on film."
"Community is the only reason i'm still a filmmaker."
What was one of your favorite filmmaking/creative moments you are most proud of that stuck with you?
I believe creativity is an exercise in being resourceful and forces you to work within limitations. When we were editing my first feature, By Hook or By Crook I realized at a certain point we wanted it to become a different film than we set out to make because it took almost three years to make it. I learned that the film you write, shoot and edit transforms and I had to be open to letting those moments of imperfections, be a part of the film.
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?
Community is the only reason i'm still a filmmaker. It took 15 or more years to get to a place where I could earn an income as a filmmaker. I remember those lean years of working multiple jobs and creating work to help with financing. My community, which is both my film community and Queer & Trans community is how I was green lit during all those years. I think it is crucial for anyone coming from outside of the industry system to have a community that helps push their voices and get their films made when there’s no other backing for it.
"I ended up becoming one of the first Transmasculine people to direct on TV."
How is LGBTQ+ representation important in the industry?
I never thought my Transness would be an asset in this industry. I came out quite a bit before, but because of Transparent’s (TV Series) initiative, they wanted to have Trans people both in front of and behind the camera. I ended up becoming one of the first Transmasculine people to direct on TV. It felt important to be out because it’s hard to know how to get somewhere if you have never seen yourself in the world and that field.
I remember being asked if I was worried about being pigeonholed and I was never worried about that. I always tell stories that are about people first and if they are LGBTQIA, that’s just part of who they are but not the definition or the reason to be on screen. For so long it’s been ok to tokenize or make someone’s identity the entire part of the story, but we don’t live like that as humans.
For many decades we’ve all had to watch moves with central characters that are nothing like us. If the story is centered and has all the specificity that an authentic story tells…in theory anyone can relate to that and it’s a universal human story.
What is the best advice you would give to an LGBTQ+ person looking to get into your field?
Find your group of people. Support each other and make your work any way you can!
What pin from our collection speaks to you and why?
The Apple Box Enamel Pin because who doesn’t always find a use for one. They are just so damn useful!