Thursday, October 16, 2008

Heading home with plenty to shoot

Friends bucking me up while I was feeling troubled in NY

I'll be so glad to get home about midnight tonight after a week in New York and Boston researching subjects for "Gen Silent" (working title).
There is no shortage of seniors with stories to share about the unique hardships of growing old LGBT. I'll be back in less than a month to begin shooting. But now I must get ready for the DVD release of another project Trip to Hell and Back.
Trip Harting's memorial is at the end of this week and there will be a screening of the film after the service. That should be interesting. I've already had one woman who was in the film tell me that I am profiting from Trip's premature death and that she is holding her own service for Trip rather than come to this one. That hurt a lot for about an hour. I kep reminding myself that the last thing Trip said to me was that he wanted a screening at his memorial service. That's all that matters.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


My friends and documentary subjects
Bob Claunch and Jack Reavley

I've just wrapped up three-days at one of the most interesting conferences that I've been to in a long time. The subject matter sounds extremely boring- LGBT aging. But the fact that the organization SAGE had a conference on this topic sponsored by AARP (including a keynote address by AARP's president) shows how much public awareness is growing of our LGBT seniors and their unique problems.

It certainly makes me feel that there will be an audience for "Gen Silent", our current documentary on LGBT seniors going back in the closet because of a lifetime of fears and struggling with discrimination.

Two resounding conclusions out of dozens of insights:

1. Every public agency in this nation that deals with aging has a mandate to provide adequate services for ALL seniors, yet LGBT seniors are not reaching out because of lifelong fears of discrimination. Many times those fears are justified with care givers, agencies or even fellow seniores they find themselves saddled with. They are dieing earlier than their straight counterparts, lonlier and with a lower quality of life.

2. If you want a "happy old age" start early learning to adapt to new situations and have a sense of humor. Early being in your twenties!
The interesting thing is adapting is a skill that many LGBT seniors were forced to learn early on because of the amount of discrimination around them.

I have been to so many conferences that lost me to a sightseeing trip at the point that there were no interesting panels going on. SAGE in New York had so many intriguing sessions going on concurrently that this conference could have easily been spread out over the week.
Bob Linscott Stu Maddux

Thank-you to Cathy Renna of Renna Communications, the public relations organization working with SAGE for allowing me access to the conference to research and interview potential subjects for "Gen Silent" even though I had no crew or camera in hand- yet.
Also to my friend, Bob Linscott at the LGBT Aging Project for allowing me to share his hotel room. I'll be trying to find funding for this project once we have footage to show people. In the meantime, places to stay, frequent flyer miles and rides from friends have made this project possible.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Finding documentary subjects

Today I met the first two possible subjects for this doc on LGBT aging and the back-to back meetings took me from despair to hope in the course of two hours. The first man I spoke with lives alone in one bedroom of a huge house and the room smells of urine. He claims that he is dieing. He has been alone most of his life. It was an image that for better or worse I foresee happening to many LGBT people.

The second man (above) has been the primary care giver for his aging partner. He believes the only thing that saved him from suicide was reaching out for help. Today he seems vibrant and full of life.

I’ll try to meet with both again tomorrow to learn the details of their lives and hopefully. I need to be meeting more people. I fear leaving next with only two solid situations to shoot when I come back.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The filmmaker alone

The cabin where I'm working in Jamaica Plain, MA.

I began research on my next documentary yesterday and I feel very alone. I got on a plane by myself for an overnight flight to Boston where no-one was waiting for me and set up my base of operations in a small cabin behind a friend’s house.

All that is refreshing. It’s nice to get out of the house and find solitude. What’s lonely about it is that I am here for no other reason except to create something from scratch. I’m not going to a festival for a job well done or to visit family or with my partner on vacation. I alone will make something from nothing using my skills and experience. And not knowing where it all will take me gives me pause.

I walked to the grocery store here in Jamaica Plain to buy milk, bread and cereal and will work out of this little cabin for a few days. Tomorrow I begin pre-interviewing potential subjects about aging in the LGBT community. Tonight, I am jet-lagged and sore from carrying equipment through airports and subways.

It is at times like these that I wonder, who do I think I am kidding? I’m just a wannabe filmmaker. It’s just me and a camera. No crew anymore. No network to pay me. But I quickly remember how many times I’ve had this feeling of self-doubt before and how many times I have had the feeling of success at the other end of a project. I have faith in myself.