I recently had the pleasure of speaking with the lovely and talented filmmaker/director Gabrielle Lindau. An openly queer artist, Gabrielle's projects frequently deal with LGBT issues and themes. Her short film, These Showers can Talk, which premiered in August, is a comedic take on the world of lesbian liaisons, stereotypes, and dating. The official movie release for the film was covered by Go Magazine and girlnationnyc. Gabrielle also directed Lori Michaels in "The Right", a music video for Lori Michaels Productions and Reach Out, Inc., a non-profit organization. She officially joined Reach Out, Inc. as a spokesperson for the nationwide marriage equality campaign, "i want the RIGHT", prior to its launch on February 14, 2010.
Gabrielle's latest endeavor, Who You Are, is a feature length film which tackles the recent homophobic backlash which has been occurring worldwide. The film introduces a serious dialogue about hate crimes against the international LGBT community, and what must be done to stop them.
C.com: I heard a little anecdote about a childhood film project that was dear to your heart. Can you tell us a little about that?
GL: Sure. It was my first AV class and I decided I was going to make a short movie about Richard Nixon's dog, Checkers, who happened to be buried in the pet cemetery across from my high school in Long Island. I think as a kid growing up, having seen Stephen King's Pet Cemetery, I was terrified. I wanted to take the concept of a pet cemetery and do something on the funnier side, so I made a little movie about Checkers. There was a tombstone that said "Here Lies Checkers," and since I didn't really have sophisticated movie equipment or sound effects, I had someone making barking noises in the background behind me. Yeah, that was one of my first projects, and as a kid I wasn't thinking about political statements at all or the fact that this was the dog that might've brought on the Vietnam War. [laughter]
C.com: Having attended the premiere of These Showers Can Talk, I can personally say I found the movie hysterical and incredibly true-to-life. Did you draw on your own experiences in the lesbian community and with dating in general when you sat down to write the script?
GL: I most definitely did. I drew on the lesbian community in a number of ways. For starters, I got the idea for the film when I was visiting a friend one morning who happened to be in the shower getting ready for a lunch date. While I was in the bathroom with her, she was going through her beauty routine and we were talking about different dating tips. That's where I came up with the idea for These Showers. Around the same time, I was involved with directing Lori Michaels in the music video "The Right", and I began to be exposed to all of the stereotypes about the lesbian community in the media..."butch", "bi", "femme", "straight lesbians"...we hear so many terms and I wanted to explore each and every one of them. So I just took what I learned, saw, and researched at the time in a more serious context for the video, and moved it into this comedy.
C.com: I thought the film was great in that it was easily relatable to all--men, women, gay, straight etc., yet it also highlighted aspects unique to the world of lesbian dating and relationships. How do you think lesbian relationships differ from other types of relationships, if you do at all?
GL: It's interesting because I hear this question a lot. Like why do lesbians "U-haul it" in comparison to straight relationships which progress differently? Personally, I think everyone is different and that's what I tried to explore in These Showers Can Talk. For instance, our lead character Samantha goes to her first bathroom where her best friend Maggie is, and we can see how what works for Maggie doesn't necessarily work for Samantha. In general, I think people are people. I don't think it's necessarily a gay or a straight thing.
GL: I have to say it was an absolute pleasure working with both of these women. When I was wrapping up "The Right" with Lori Michaels, I told her about the idea that I had for These Showers, and when I described to her the character of Gloria, she said "that's funny. I've always really wanted to play the role of a complete psychopath in a movie. I think I could do it really well and everyone keeps telling me they think I could do it well." I was so freaked out by this driving along Houston Street, I told her "I'm going to get out of the car right now because you're scaring me. And by the way, congratulations, you got the part." I just knew from filming "The Right" with her that she was the type of person who would be completely dedicated to her role and give it 100% energy from beginning to end. Now with Brittany Andrews, it was a very different experience because she's not an actress in the ordinary sense of the word. She was used to being onscreen, but in a whole different genre. She was especially hesitant when I told her it was a comedy; she said "well, you know, I'm not really an actress." I told her that was o.k., and that she just had to be herself. And that's when I found out she had done a number of acts in L.A. as a stand-up comedian. So she really had a lot more to bring to the table--more so than she even believed she could. The truth is she was hysterical and you never knew what was going to come out of her mouth.
C.com: Yeah, she was really great, and her comedic timing was spot-on. Ok, I'm going to ask you one more question, and it's about your newest project, Who You Are. What inspired you to tackle such serious subject matter and what do you hope to accomplish with the work?
GL: Who You Are is a feature length film that tells the story of hate crimes that have taken place and continue taking place all over the world, from Eastern Europe--Russia, the Balkans--all the way to Africa and here in the United States. I actually came up with the idea for the film in Switzerland back in the summer of 2009. This was upon meeting my co-filmmaker for the project, Vertna Bradley. We had planned on attending Europride 2010 in Warsaw, Poland, which was a monumental event for Poland and gay civil rights at the time for a number of reasons. It was at that time that I was personally exposed to what was going on with gay civil rights movements around the world, and I sought out to make a film about this. I reached out to Interpride, which is the international pride organization. And there was a man there, Bill Urich, who had a variety of footage from Prides in Eastern Europe and Russia. What was on this footage was shocking to me. In one scene in Serbia, we see about 15 to 30 men beating on one homosexual man, and the police turning a blind eye. At the same time, as much as we see the blood and gore of these various hate crimes in the film, we also see the courage and camraderie of the gay community.
For me, when I started to see what was going on here in America, with the rise of teenage gay suicides and the increase in hate crimes against the gay community, I definitely saw a correlation with the rise in gay hate crimes around the world. I wanted to tell this story through the juxtaposition of these worldwide images. I think it's an important story to tell because I really see the gay rights movement as an unfinished revolution. We're still treated as second class citizens, there are still these hate crimes, and we need to have more laws in place for our protection. What it boils down to is I want to use this film as an educational tool for the gay communities to show them what can happen; it can start with a punch in the face in a bathroom at Stonewall and escalate to death by stoning in Serbia. We need to stop gay hate crimes in their tracks and hopefully motivate people to do so.
C.com: Well thank you for taking the time to speak with me and best of luck with your work.
GL: Thank you.
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