In this episode of our FREE THE WORK podcast miniseries, "The Future, Through Our Eyes," watch as our FTW Community Lead, Chloe Coover, speaks with filmmaker, artist, and director of "For Nonna Anna" Luis De Filippis. Listen as the dive into creative inspiration, creating community on set, and dismantling stereotypes.
You can watch our close-captioned video below or listen to this episode through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Soundcloud. Keep scrolling for the full transcript!
Luis De Filippis
Luis De Filippis is a Canadian-Italian trans femme filmmaker whose work celebrates otherness and employs a fierce female gaze. Their work has played at festivals such as TIFF, Rotterdam, and BFI Flare. Their most recent work, For Nonna Anna (17), won the Best Short Narrative Award at the Atlanta International Film Festival and the Special Jury Prize at Sundance. With generous assistance provided by the TIFF Canadian Women in Film Fellowship they will be attending the TIFF Filmmaker Lab in September 2018 where they will be developing their debut feature, Something You Said Last Night.
Chloe is FREE THE WORK's Community Lead. She's an artist, quadruple Leo (Sun, Moon, Rising + Mercury), ANTM scholar, meme enthusiast, and is proud to be a woman of trans experience.
Chloe Coover: Hi, I'm Chloe Coover, Free The Work's community lead and joining us today is filmmaker Luis De Filippis. So Luis is a Canadian Italian trans femme filmmaker whose work has played at festivals, such as TIFF, Rotterdam, and EFI flair. Your short film For Nonna Anna won the Best Short Narrative Award at the Atlanta International Film Festival, and a special jury prize at Sundance in 2018. So congratulations, that is incredible. And just on a personal note, I'm very excited to talk to you about For Nonna Anna because it really resonated with my personal experience. It's the story of a young trans woman caring for her grandmother. And as it really resonated with my personal experience of dealing with a father who has Parkinson's and has been sort of dealing with the sort of decline of certain mobility and motor skills and communication for the past 10 years and engaging in more physical caretaking for him at the same time in parallel with my own transition. So it was when I first saw For Nonna Anna, I was really like, wow, this is like someone just went into my brain and like made the film that I wanted to see, like in real life. So thank you on a personal note for that, it really meant a lot to me to see it.
Yeah I think in a way, like that's why film works in such a great way and like why it's to me, one of the best mediums to explore with, because it just like has this transmutable element to it where you can really take your experience and like have it be a mirror for someone else.
Luis De Filippis: Totally, totally.
CC: Yeah, that's why I love film. And actually, I mean, that's a great sort of starting point. I was very curious about what your entry point into becoming a filmmaker was, or just, you know, what initially kicked off your love of film. Just even, not as a filmmaker, but just as a film appreciator.
LD: I mean, so I have always been an artsy kid one way or another. I started doing dance when I was pretty young, which was like a pretty big deal. I come from like a small town that's known for like producing like NHL hockey players. So when I said I wanted to do ballet everyone was like, what is wrong with this kid? But I did it. It was a very Matilda moment I like went to the library and like research online where I could do ballet and came home with of course, like the craziest place I could do ballet, which is like the National Ballet School of Canada. And I was like, mom, this is like the number you have to call. The lady who will like audition me. And she was like, you've never done dance in your life. Why would they choose you? And I kept badgering her and she brought me down. And I did my audition and the lady was like, okay, the kid can't dance, but we'll take him. And yeah, so.
CC: How old are you when that was going on?
LD: That was like grade three or grade four.
CC: Wow, yeah.
LD: The year before I had asked for tickets to see the Nutcracker and this, I don't remember this happening, but the story goes that like I like was watching it and my mom had fallen asleep and then I like leaned over to her and I like whispered. I was like, I'm gonna be on that stage. And she like woke up and she was like, okay, honey yeah yeah yeah and then she went back to sleep.
CC: Accepted it in a dream.
LD: Yeah exactly. And then the following year, I was like on that stage, like in that very show.
CC: Oh my God.
LD: So yeah, don't stop a kid from doing what they want. 'Cause they know it's what they want.
LD: So yeah, I did ballet for a number of years but then by grade eight grade nine, I was kind of disillusioned with the whole thing. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that I was trans and I didn't know that at the time. And I thought being, you know, a ballerina, would fix it for me would make me feel like complete or something but obviously it wasn't a ballerina. I was a ballerino and yeah, just ballet is like a very gendered, very binary form. And so I just got really sick of it and I went to art school and I did drama for a bit. And it was in grade 11 that we did like a film crash course with this documentary filmmaker named Bridget Berman. And we basically like had a month with her and we just like made films. And from there I like kind of fell in love with it. But the film that really drew me to film was Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. It was the first time that I had seen film be more than just like a movie or like more than just like entertainment. She was able to take this story about someone so far removed from my life. This like rococo monarchist who was beheaded. And somehow she like made it very relevant to my life. And that's exactly what film does. It takes these experiences that like you think you can never understand, or these experiences that are so far removed from your life and you're able to like empathize with these characters and empathize with these moments. And after seeing that, I was like, that's what want to do, I want to like, you know, make a period piece where the women are wearing like bubblegum pink dresses and dancing to like Bow Wow Wow in a pair of Converse like thrown into the background. It was like, if that's what I want to do. So then I went to film school, and that was a really not great experience. I think the kind of the toxicity that you find a lot in the industry kind of seeped its way into this school. And a lot of the time there was men directing, men writing and a lot of the femme or women were doing things like props or art direction or things like that where we didn't really have a lot of power and we didn't really have a lot of say. And so I did me and a couple other filmmakers, like we really banded together and I think we like protected each other, we kind of just stuck together so we could make our films and work on each other's films. So that was a really great experience. They're learning how to build community and how to like stick with the people who support you. But by the end of film school, I just really felt like down on myself 'cause I thought I didn't have like the right personality to be like a filmmaker, a director because the director was someone that we were taught was very like abrasive person who got the scene at all costs like that's not me. CC: That's, I mean, yeah, it's fascinating and heartbreaking in my opinion, to hear that that's like the sort of way that people are being trained subconsciously to see these different roles. And I mean, we have an industry at its current iteration has been kind of predicated on people acting in these certain ways because it's been primarily cis, straight, white men doing the, you know, filling the majority of these roles.
And the fact that it does like trickle down even to sort of like the film school level where people are first getting their initial tastes of what the industry can be like.
LD: Yeah, 'cause we're basically, yeah 'cause in film school, we're just basically like mimicking what we think the industry standard is without even realizing or having conversations about how toxic that standard is. Like you said, like the whole industry is based on and kind of catered to cis white men who like can leave their families for months at a time, go off and shoot this thing and then come back and like know that their family is being taken care of. And I don't know, it's not a system really that really benefits anyone if you're not like that specific type of person.
CC: Yeah, and I mean, one of the times when that kind of dynamic was made so clear to me was when we were, Free The Work was specifically supporting a campaign, trying to change the DGA healthcare policy. So that basically there was a Parenthood penalty, essentially being placed on those who gave birth, essentially that they had to meet a certain minimum amount of income or jobs within a certain certain time period. And it was extremely difficult to do so. I'm really not doing justice to this campaign.
LD: No, but I'm just, how is that even legal? Like how is that?
CC: So there were all these new mothers who were filmmakers who would lose their healthcare coverage because they hadn't been able to work to the extent, it's insane, but it's crazy because that's the kind of thing that wouldn't have even been thought of in an industry that was structured for people that are not, that don't have to worry about that, you know?
LD: It's insane. It's insane like how we just like take all these things for granted and we're like, well, this is how the industry is run.
It's just like, but it doesn't have to be that way. Like it really doesn't. And that's like, I had kind of like a reckoning with myself before I made For Nonna Anna where I was like, hey I'm gonna give myself like one more go at making a film before I like call it. And I decided with that film, I was like, okay, I'm gonna like, run that set exactly the way I want to run that set. So that meant like every morning we would have like circle check-ins where we would, like everyone was involved. So it didn't matter if you were the cinematographer, you were a PA, or you were craft, like every single person who was on that set had to be in the circle. And we just talked about how we were doing that morning. If anyone was having a bad day, if it was someone's birthday, if you were like fighting with someone, just like, how are you doing as like a human, when you get to set? And then at lunch we had like a dance break. So it would kind of be like someone in the crew picked a song and we all, every single person had to like dance to this song. And I think it was just like a very humanizing moment where it's just like, we can all be silly. We can all like, show how good we are at dance or how bad we are at dance. And we can all just like laugh and like be human for a second because I think it's very ironic.
But I think on set our humanity and goes out the window when what we're trying to do is like tell very human stories and it's so crazy. And it's so mind boggling to me that that happens. It's like, if we can find ways to just like hold onto our humanity more on set, things will go that much better and everyone will feel that much better on set.
LD: But again, those things have to be like scheduled in the day and they have to be priorities because if it's not a priority, it's not gonna happen.
CC: Right, because the models that we're working under have historically been so hierarchical and so dehumanizing on so many levels to those at the bottom of the power structure that in order to make change, I mean, this is the thing that works sort of, I think, coming to a reckoning point with industry-wide, but also like in all just like professional environments is that like these structures of hierarchy that structure our interactions with one another contain a lot of, you know, baggage of, you know, being dehumanizing and just taking away, they're based on power structures essentially that are invisible in the day to day, but are really detrimental to all of us. And so as we move forward, I think that people are really starting to have a reckoning moment of like, oh actually we really need some sort of like tear these things down to their roots.
LD: Yeah, It's really interesting that you say, so I'm reading this book, do you know Octavia E. Butler? So have you read the Lilith Brood series? It's like this series about like aliens coming to Earth and like saving the humans but then like breeding with the humans to like make this new–
CC: I started one book of hers a while ago and I just wasn't in the head space for it, but now I'm kind of, that's a great like introductory description. So I kind of am curious to go back to it now.
LD: Oh, I'm on the second book, it's amazing. But basically the aliens in the first book say this like really interesting thing where they're like out of all the species we've like studied like throughout this galaxy and throughout this universe, humans have like these two components to them that like make them like this huge contradiction. And like the first is like the first really great thing about humans is that they're incredibly intelligent and incredibly adaptable, but the contradictory kind of aspect to humans is that they're like, they're incredibly hierarchical. And so the two things like really work against each other to the point where like in a story, humans have set off all these nuclear bombs to kill each other and that's when the aliens come in to save them. But it's just like goes back to how like hierarchy is so like ingrained in our like very being as humans.
LD: And like it trickles its way to like film staff and we don't even know.
CC: But the other thing that's, I think really interesting too, is that I feel like there's also this growing consciousness, that film sets in which the hierarchies are broken down in kind of the way that you're describing yield films that are more of a reflection of the full, you know, vision of the entire team that worked on it. Because if we're in agreement, that film has to be a necessarily collaborative, creative art form, then the quality of the films produced is going to be stronger when the films are a product more accurately of the vision of every member of the crew of everyone involved in the creation process.
LD: For sure, because it's like people are gonna work at their best when they're feeling like their vision is being seen and heard. And so I want to work with people who are better at me than at everything they do. And when you treat them just like people, rather than like a means to an end, rather than just treating them like crew members, if you treat them like family and you treat them well, I think they do better and they become more invested in the work and that's exactly what you want. You want them invested in like making the best possible project that they can. Then that kind of balloons to like a whole thing. And I think taking like the five or 10 minutes in the morning, and then the five or 10 minutes at lunch, like a lot of ADs or producers might be like, well, that's a waste of time, but I'm like, well, you could think about it like that. But in the grand scheme of things, we had four days to shoot for. And now we got it done in three because I think people were just so efficient and so excited.
CC: Yeah. And that's the thing it's about prioritizing what you think the time should be spent on. And if your priority is a crew that feels invested in the outcome of the project, then that five minutes is not a waste. You know, that five minutes is an extremely important piece of the puzzle.
CC: And I was talking in the previous conversation I had for this podcast, with someone who was working on the set of Disclosure, the documentary that's out on Netflix now and was saying that there was a really similar ideology on set in terms of like bringing everyone into discussions about the direction of the film and checking in and really listening to one another about, you know, like no matter what people's role was in a official, you know, sense, just knowing that they had input on the direction and you know, if they had thoughts about something they were heard and what we were saying, in this other conversation is the fact that all of these people, they may be onset as a gaffer. They may be onset as, you know, whatever their role title officially is, but they're a person who exists in the world with the perspective of a full life that's enriched with experiences. And so if you allow them to bring that to their work there's all kinds of things you are opening yourself up to and you're opening your film up to that you can benefit from. So one thing in that sort of vein that I was wondering about is since this project, when did you actually shoot For Nonna Anna? What year was that?
LD: 2016, June, 2016.
CC: Gotcha and so we're in 2020 currently, a lot of time has passed between. It's interesting to think about how much has changed and how little has changed in certain ways since 2016. I'm curious, taking all of the changes that you've observed, both in the wider world and in yourself, what are some lessons that you would bring to the next project that you've worked on, subsequently?
LD: I mean, I think this was like the best onset experience I've ever had. I was the most comfortable in my skin. I was comfortable with being quiet. I was comfortable with saying, I don't know. And I was comfortable with asking other people's opinions about things. And that's something that I think we're taught is not okay on set you have to know everything and you can't be asking other people's opinions. And so those are things I want to make sure that I hold on to, I want to make sure my ego always stays small enough that I know, I don't know everything. And you know, things as simple as the way I say action, for example, I remember my dad was kind watching one day and then like, after we had wrapped for the day, he came up to me, he was like, it was a really good day, really good day, but I think you need to work on the way you say action. And I was like, why? And he was like, 'cause it almost feels like you're falling asleep when you say it. And I was just like, well, that's the way I say it. And I think we just, I just need to be okay with that. Like I just needed to be okay with like, being like, well that's the way I say it, or that's the way I do things, which it feels very different maybe to how other directors do things, but I know how I work best.
And another thing that I know now is like, I like very small intimate crews. I don't like a lot of people hanging around or watching. I like to keep it to the bare minimum. That's something else I like, but something in like more of an abstract way that I've kind of learned over the last four years is like, I think there's a lot of discussions right now about representation and specifically representation of trans characters. And I think four years ago, I really believed that I was at a point where I didn't want to see any more trans characters on screen being killed. I didn't want to see any more trans characters doing sex work, I believed that all trans characters had to be written and directed by trans creators. But now I'm kind of at this place where I don't know if I believe that anymore.
I think that the answer is not to tell someone that they can't do something. I think the answer instead is to just have more representation. The answer is to just have more trans characters on screen and more people writing about trans characters. I mean, I know a lot of people are not wanting to see trans death or trans people's death on screen anymore. But I think we as creators and filmmakers can't gatekeep like that because I think it's actually doing harm to the community. I think there are still people as we know, being killed like almost every week, if not every day for being trans and there are still a lot of people who are sex workers and that's how they make their livelihood. And so to not tell those stories is to like deny them their chance to see themselves on screen and I think that we as creators are not in the position to be denying anyone the chance to see themselves on screen. And I think it's like a really, it's a really, I don't want to say dangerous 'cause I don't think it's bad. It's a very, I don't want to say problematic either, but I think we just need to be careful about like being so regimented about the types of stories we want to see and the types of trans people we want to see on the screen. I want to see all trans people on the screen and that doesn't mean stopping anyone from telling your story, it just means we need to have more opportunities for everyone, so everyone can go and tell their story.
LD: So that's a big difference I think I've–
CC: Do you think that your feeling on that relates to trans creators telling their own stories or is that also in terms of cis creators telling trans stories?
LD: I think at the end of the day, and this is something that I've also changed my mind about I, for a long time, four years ago, if you'd asked me, I would've been like only trans people should tell trans stories, but now I'm like, actually I don't know if that's true. I don't know if that's actually accurate. I think the story will probably intrinsically be better if a trans person tells their own story. But that doesn't mean that I think I'm in a position to block a cis creator from telling a trans story if they feel like that's a story they want to tell. As long as they're putting in the work and they're consulting trans people. And they're also giving back to the trans community in a tangible way, you know, like as long as they're bringing someone along with them and they're like maybe mentoring someone in like a real way and they're making sure that person's getting paid so that trans creator can then go and tell their story.
So like on my film on my feature film, it's not a story that speaks for every trans person. It can't speak for every trans person. It's story that's very personal to me and it's very personal to my experience. And I think the way that I kind of justify that in a way is that we're gonna have a mentorship on set so that we're contributing and giving back in a tangible way and making sure that the next generation of trans filmmakers can go and tell their stories. So though, I can't tell every story I can make. I have like an opportunity to make sure that other people can tell their stories.
CC: Yeah, I mean, that's the thing, there's a sort of responsibility that anyone has who steps into the role of, you know, having the power to tell any story at all means that you then step into some kind of responsibility. So it's great to hear that in your case, you are taking on that responsibility and seeing the ways in which you have the power to affect, you know, a next generation of trans creators. Because as you're saying, any one filmmaker, any one storyteller, any one, you know, artist cannot be responsible for telling all stories. And it's interesting too, oh sorry.
LD: No, I was just gonna, I just thought people would go crazy.
CC: Yeah, no, totally.
LD: And I think the work gets very diluted in a way, if you try and tell every single story in your work, you really can only focus on like the story you want to tell and I think the work is better that way and then when the work is better, it gets more traction, more people see it and it inspires other people to tell their stories.
CC: Yeah and is it what you were saying before it gets to a really fascinating question for me that I really have like gone back and forth with as a creative person, myself, like outside of work in a totally separate sense, just like mulling this over. At a certain point it is like if you narrow if you narrow it down too much in sort of like being militant about like only, you can only tell like only these people can tell these stories, it does sort of leave you with like, well, I personally am only able to then tell this very small avenue of story because it directly relates to my personal experience. And while stories that relate to my personal experience probably should be told, sure. I also think that it doesn't allow people, the creative freedom and license to imagine stories about people that are slightly other than themselves. And it becomes really blinkered and kind of myopic and naval gazing in a way, if it's just, if people are feel only allowed to tell their own story.
LD: Yeah and I think the other thing that happens is trans people and trans characters, if that's the case, will only ever be like the lead character, which is, would be fabulous. But what will happen is they'll only ever appear as the lead in the film. But I also want to see trans characters as like the best friends or like the mother or like the waiter. Like I want to see them involved in just like every aspect of like the world of film. And I think they won't be involved if all of a sudden the cis writer's told that they shouldn't be writing about trans characters. Right.
CC: And I think that it's about observation and about care and respect in a way that allows, the thing is though, I think, yeah, there's a whole aspect of what film does that we're missing out on if we do become so strict about who can say, what about who? Because for example, the founder of Free The Work Alma Har'el is a filmmaker and just recently made a film about that was based on Shia LaBeouf's like own personal screenplay that was based on his own life, but her vision of his life, I think is what was so transformatively beautiful about that movie.
LD: Yeah, for sure.
CC: And so I don't think that, I think that trans creators should be able to envision other lives other than their own as well. And cis people, as you're saying, should be able to envision worlds that trans people exist in. 'Cause hey, we exist in everyone's world.
LD: I mean, yeah. I think it's like the next evolution of like representation.
CC: Yeah, it's a nuanced conversation to have though, because I think that there's definitely still so much pent up kind of frustration about years and years and years of trans people, not being able to tell their own stories on screen. And we've only just gotten to this place where there even are any trans creators who are being like validated. And so I think that the next challenge is really getting to a place where it feels like there are enough footholds in the industry to make really nuanced representation possible in an across the board kind of way.
LD: Yeah, I look forward to it very much. I think we're at like a very exciting point where like it very much go down that road if we want to. Yeah, yeah.
CC: Yeah, I mean and in that, going back to sort of the question I had before too, what are some of the changes that you've observed in this timeframe? 'Cause it's been such a like really roller coaster five, six year period that we've had as trans people, both in like media, in public culture, in our own lives. Like what are some of the biggest shifts that you've observed and what are some shifts that you're hoping to see, continue evolving as we go forward?
LD: I mean, I think like five years ago it was like when I would Google like trans filmmakers or trans creators, it was so hard to just like find anyone. There was like Silas Howard, and I remember watching like By Hook or By Crook and being like, oh wow, like this is a film I want to make and this is the kind of film I've been looking for, but now there's so much more like there's so many more filmmakers and stories being told. And it's exactly what I said where I think we just need more, and I think Jen Richards said this well in terms of like representation where she's like, we just need more and that's exactly what I believe and what I hope for the future is that we just get more and maybe not every project you're gonna be happy with in terms of like how people are being represented or how people decide to tell trans stories. But that's the beauty about having more, you don't have to like everything you don't have to cling on to every project.
LD: And that's why I think having more is a really great option.
CC: Well, that's the thing too. It's like we have these examples of, you know, for example, like cis women making films, there's been so many historical examples of like one misstep and then a career gets canceled and derailed and I think that it should be a similar kind of like thing to be looking out for trans creators, just in general, just sort of like allow for representations that feel imperfect, allow for films that don't feel like they're the best. And don't just say, okay, we got to stop. Like we don't need these anymore. We have this amount or something.
LD: Yeah, and I think like four years ago I was guilty of that. I was guilty of like watching a film and being like, oh no, they did it wrong. Just I don't want any, like, I don't want to see them anymore, whatever, but I think it's like you said, it's not helpful. And I think we hold ourselves to such a high standard and I think we need to give ourselves more room to make mistakes, the same amount of room that we've given, you know, male directors for like what the last 50 to like 60 years who've made mistakes and then come back with like another film and like won awards like we need to allow for mistakes.
CC: I agree, I completely agree. Yeah, I want to see more. I want to see more trans film makers, like filmmakers from all marginalized identities, getting the opportunity to make like an indie film and then a blockbuster and then back to an indie film. And then, you know, it was really just having like these kind of varied nuanced careers that like, I just don't see many people having and that ability to like sort of transcend different levels of the industry that seems like men still are the only ones who really get to do that. Cis straight men.
LD: Right. Because we need more of those stories.
CC: We're probably we're in the sort of like end stretch, but I was really curious mostly to spend the last part of the conversation, talking about what you've been working on and what you have next and then just kind of like dream projects 'cause this is like a really future focused podcast. I really didn't want to be like, oh just like the past and representation as it stood up until now, whatever. I want it to be like, what do we have coming down the pipeline? What's exciting, you know?
LD: Yeah, well so what's exciting? I have my feature film coming up. It was supposed to be this summer, but obviously that's not happening, thank you COVID-19.
CC: We love it.
LD: So stay tuned maybe next summer, you know, things go well. So yeah, I'm working on that. It's kind of very similar to For Nonna Anna in terms of like the character and the world of story and the way it's gonna be told. I'm really looking forward to that and working with the producers of the Florida Project on that, and they've been great support system and Center Reach has been involved and yeah, it's been a crazy ride but it's been good. I can't really ask for more for like my first feature, like kind of.
CC: Yeah, I mean, I'm excited to see what your vision as a filmmaker is going to do with the material of a feature film. Like that's very exciting for me to see just as like on a fan level and going forward, even beyond this, are you, was the experience, has the experience of making a feature film gotten you really like fired up and excited to continue making feature films or, you know.
LD: Yeah, I think I definitely want to keep making films. I think I've learned from this process of this, for me personally, this is like the point that I find the most unenjoyable it's like the point that happens after the writing process but before you get onset to film it. It's all like the in between of just like the financing and the scheduling the dates, then the pitching the project over and over again and dealing with all these like nitty gritty details that you're like, does this actually mean anything? So yeah, I've been having kind of like an existential like moment right now where I'm like is film really what I want to do, but it is what I want to do because as soon as I started talking to someone about like the details of something, like, I don't know, talking about wardrobe and talking about how I want everyone kind of sharing clothes. 'Cause the story is basically about a family that goes on vacation and so I talk about how like, I want them all like sharing clothes and like maybe there's this one yellow t-shirt that we'd like track the life of throughout the film. So like the main character's wearing it, then her sister's wearing it, then her mom's wearing it. Then it's just like on the railing. And like we know where it is in each scene kind of things like that really get me excited. And it's in those moments that I'm like, oh no, no. I like what I do. I do like what I do.
CC: Those are the kinds of things that are really unique to film and you get to tell a story that is sequential and is visual at the same time. And you know, like every medium has its strengths and one thing, I mean, it's so clear even just from watching For Nonna Anna is for your vision as a filmmaker is very like cinematically it makes a lot of sense for the format of film.
CC: Because I just, you know, one could tell that story differently, but I think that the specific kinds of lyricism that you get in like passages of silence in that film are to me some of the kinds of things that feel so unique to film as a medium.
LD: Yeah, I completely agree. I think film is like intrinsically a visual medium and that's what I really like get off on in terms of like filmmaking. I enjoy like the silences between the spoken dialogue and just like focusing on a blowing leaf for three minutes. I don't know. That's what I enjoy, not everyone does, but that's why we need more.
LD: So I'm really looking forward to it. I also think, you know, we have to keep ourselves sane as filmmakers and that to me means making sure you have friends outside of the film industry who like don't care about these things. So that, like I remember, what friend was it. I don't remember, okay well, one of my friends basically when I got into Sundance, I was like, I got in to Sundance. They were like, that's cool. Do you want to go for sushi or do you want to get like a hamburger? And I was like, keeps me grounded, keeps me grounded. Surrounding yourself with people who are just like, it's okay like it's all right if you didn't get this opportunity or like, not because they're like, oh, that's so sad. I'm so sorry for you. But they're like, does it matter? And you're like, well, it was, you know, the Sundance Writing Lab, but yeah, I guess it doesn't. So yeah.
CC: I mean that's fascinating too 'cause it's like, I think you have to consistently surround yourself in life with people that remind you of like the fact that you are as a human, more than just this one avenue of how you would define yourself, you know. Like I am more than just my particular job. I am more than just my one relationship to this one person, you know.
LD: Yeah, totally, yeah. I think another thing I've like kind of gone into is like furniture and like objects, like me and my girlfriend are kind of starting this like side hustle where like we're gonna sell objects because we're both kind of hoarders and we both love going into like Salvation Army or like Value Village and like seeing like a really great thing and being like, we need to buy that, but then it's just like, we only have so much space, but I can kind of get the hit of dopamine and buy those things and then sell them to someone else. So I think it's also like making sure you have other outlets other than film or other than like the thing that you are like want to build your career off. Also have like other things to do. Like, I don't know, paint, if you want to paint or knit or weave baskets, just find something or like find something else as well. Because I think it's, sometimes we put a lot of, a lot of pressure on ourselves to like do that one thing really well. And I'm a Capricorn, so I'm linking very guilty for that. I really like to like master something and then move on. But yeah, I need to stop doing that, but I just wanted to bring up one more thing if we had time.
CC: Yeah, for sure. We got like five more minutes, so go for it. You're good.
LD: So like, I was just wondering what was like your yes and moment, like in terms of being trans or like discovering you're trans. So like for me it was, I used to work at TIFF as an usher and Laverne Cox came and did like a talk and it was fabulous and so inspirational. And for me that was my like yes, and moment where I was like, yes, I am trans and I can be like so many other things as well where I was like, 'cause for so long, I thought being trans meant like this certain type of thing 'cause that's what the representation of trans people I've met up until that point. So I wanted to know for you what it was.
CC: That's a great question. I think it's interesting because I think for me it ended up being the same moment that I, myself realized that I was trans. The two were kind of very intertwined because until I realized that being trans meant that I could, like until I realized what being trans meant, I didn't see myself as a part of the like conversation. So I was really active on Tumblr for a long time for years, and gradually like people that I was following and in circles with started to transition. And I had been following these people and like having these really deep, like engagements with their inner most thoughts. I mean, Tumblr was really like a place where everyone was just like being really messy, just really just like, you know.
LD: It's like the Hari Nef–
LD: Okay yeah yeah yeah. Oh yeah, I remember those days. I remember those days.
CC: Yup, and I remember just watching people like Hari Nef transition in real time and like Juliana Huxtable was really important for me in that moment. And like there's just all these people who I was like, wow, hold on like from the stuff that they're posting here, which is kind of like the like excavating the interior of their brains, I'm like, I have so much more in common with this and like these people and these conversations and these thoughts than I do with any other person, you know, that I know now. And I was becoming really vocal about trans rights and I was, and everyone was like, okay girl, but like, what's your stake in this? So it's like well–
LD: Well, I have something to say.
CC: So it ended up being really kind of like this moment for me, where I was like, because prior to, I mean, way prior to that, my initial introduction to what trans people were at all was through things like, like Maury and Jerry Springer and like yeah, these contexts that were so dehumanizing and awful. And like, I was like, there's no way that me sitting in this like suburban household with parents that like shower me with love and like people in my life who just are like, oh what a great artist you are? You know, like there was no connection for me, between myself as I understood myself and the way that these people were being treated. And I was like, I can't see myself in that narrative. And so it just literally didn't even occur to me, even though I was wearing dresses like everyday. So I would have never thought of it, but it just took like up until a point where I was like, seeing and this is why I think that media is so important. And like, whether it be like, you know, a film or like just social media or, because allowing yourself to have the visibility on other people's lived experiences in a real like dimensional human way has done a lot for me. And I think it could equally do a lot for other people.
LD: I think it's doing a lot for everyone at the end of the day. I think, yeah it's exactly what you said. It gives you, it gives you options. You like, you see the options that you have. It's not just one thing. It's not just like, well, I can be on Maury or I can be on Dr. Phil. It's like, oh, I don't have to be on either of those. I can be like CEO of a company if I want. Totally so yeah. But my girlfriend said you were actually her yes and moment, like she, like, I've been following you on Instagram. And she was like, Chloe was just like this like glamorous, like extremely talented painter slash like photographer and like.
CC: Oh my God.
LD: I was just like, oh, I can see myself being that. So you never know like–
CC: Well that makes me feel so good 'cause she's so gorgeous and wonderful too. So it's like, wow. If I had anything to do with that. I am so…
LD: Oh you did, yeah.
CC: Wow, that's so flattering. Cool, well, that's a great note to wrap up on. Thank you so so so so much for joining me, I just truly am just like, I'm a fan. So like, this was great for me to get to talk to you.