GLAAD Media Awards 2012
Ask the GLAAD Award-nommed movie producers about their dream project and they’ll say there are too many. Press further and they’ll hold their cards lest that dream project become another producer’s payday. Still, a few secrets are revealed by those producers nominated for filmwide release and documentary by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
“Albert Nobbs” producing team Bonnie Curtis and Julie Lynn have murky visions of a New York-set musical that they want to make, but need some advice from music industry contacts to find the story’s identity.
“It’s set in the real world, but it’s a real world where people express their emotions and longing through song and dance. It’s romantic with a capital R,” Lynn says.
No actors are attached yet, but the project has attracted “Albert Nobbs” director Rodrigo Garcia and a script from Meg LeFauve. It’s doubtful Curtis or Lynn will compromise plot points as they go after financing since they admit their GLAAD-nommed film was anything but four-quadrant.
“We called ‘Albert Nobbs’ the quintefecta of disaster,” Lynn jokes. “It’s a period movie, it’s female-driven, the female who drives it is older, she can be seen for free on television every week and she is disguised as someone who looks nothing like herself!”
For Lars Knudsen and Jay Van Hoy, the producing duo behind the GLAAD-nommed “Beginners,” their dream is to work with visionary writer-directors, whether finessing another indie darling or wrangling a “Batman”-sized blockbuster.
“It’s kind of like when you are walking into the record store, ‘what’s your favorite record? Go pick it out.’ It’s impossible to do,” Knudsen says.
The music analogy is apt as their Parts and Labor banner secures the rights for the duo’s next big idea: a real-life rock ‘n’ roll story. Development work puts the project several years down the pipe and they won’t give any details until negotiations wrap.
Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato of World of Wonder will compete against themselves at the 2012 GLAAD Awards, having grabbed documentary nominations for both “Becoming Chaz” and “The Strange History of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Possible upcoming projects for the producers run the gamut from an episodic miniseries chronicling the history of TV to a transsexual musical.
“We are pop-culture fanatics so we love making all things pop and like looking at things from a slightly off center perspective,” Bailey says. “There is a perception that some of our stuff is a bit marginal for the mainstream, but here at World of Wonder we think that today’s marginal is tomorrow’s mainstream.”
The duo hope to produce a musical biopic of Tammy Faye, having already produced and directed a doc based on the rise and fall of the late evangelist. They see Christina Aguilera in the titular role and Justin Timberlake as husband Jim Bakker.
“Her brand of Christianity was very non-judgmental and some argue that is what really brought down their ministry, because it threatened so much of the conservative Christian right wing belt,” Barbato says. “What they really did got lost in their downfall so it’s an incredible story to tell.”
For producer-writer Russell Martin, nominated for his doc “Two Spirits,” a film about the tragic death of a transsexual Navajo boy, it’s the ease of production and institutional support that make the dream project.
“The ideal film is one in which the right team is matched with the right story and everything comes together brilliantly. In terms of subject matter there are eight or 10 films I would love to make, both features and docs,” Martin says.
It seems he got his wish on his most recent film, “Beautiful Faces,” which profiles a facial reconstruction clinic for youth in Mexico.
“Unlike ‘Two Spirits,’ this one was successfully funded in Mexico and we were able to shoot quickly and edit relatively quickly so it is exactly the opposite kind of experience, as each film is of course,” he adds.
Director-producer David Weissman looks forward to stepping away from the documentarian role he fell into after wrapping his second doc and GLAAD-nommed film, “We Were Here,” a historical look at San Francisco’s gay community during the HIV/AIDS crisis.
“The documentaries were an unexpected turn of events for me, so I would really like to have an opportunity to do a feature and I would like to do one with at least somewhat of a gay theme,” he says.
Weissman may have become a documentarian by accident but he owns the title of co-programmer of the Portland, Ore., Queer Documentary Film Festival.
“Part of the reason why we started a documentary festival is because there are so many features at this point and a lot of them are just pure entertainment films,” he says. “We wanted the documentary festival because (docs) tend to deal consistently with meatier subject matter. I think that’s a reflection of how much material is being created in the feature film world with gay content.”
Chris Alcock, the BBC producer-director-cameraman of doc “The World’s Worst Place to be Gay” — an expose on Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill — wants to dissect the apathy he feels seeped into the collective conscious after the economic convulsions of the past several years.
“Why is it that bankers and the people in the cities are still plying their trade as they did three or four years ago when we got into this mess in the first place? I would love to do some analysis on that, strip away the layers and see what is really driving the issues and look at what’s behind it,” Alcock says.
A follow up to his nommed doc is not out of the question either, though the logistics might be tricky.
“We had a bit of a hairy time after we spoke to the minister that put this bill forward. It would be tricky to go back in but I would love to. It’s an ongoing cause and a lot of the activists over there need all the publicity because it is so dangerous and woeful for them,” he says.
Warner Bros. “J. Edgar” is also GLAAD nommed. Its screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, has a socially relevant mid-century drama in mind for his next project, but won’t give too much away as he insists the sharks are circling. Although, he says the biopic would achieve his goal of connecting the often monolithic struggles of separate minority groups.
“In terms of minority groups of any sort, we have all become kind of self-interested and I think that is a mistake politically. It’s a story about an event but told from the prospective of someone who hasn’t made history and should have,” Black says.
The Academy Award-winning screenwriter admits success puts him in a favorable position with the studios but adds there’s a bit of prescience to getting your dream project made.
“You have to wait for that moment and you have to be psychic in a way so that when it comes out in two years in the theaters it’s in the zeitgeist of that moment,” he says. “I think, honestly, business affairs smell passion and that is part of it. There are a lot of rewards beyond a paycheck.”
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