Future of LGBT Leads in Movies

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  • Future of LGBT Leads in Movies

    Here's a great post on Go Into the Story about the status of LGBT leads in movies these days (was of particular interest to me as I'm now writing a comedy with gay leads):

    http://gointothestory.blcklst.com/20...rmanently.html
    "I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.-- Peter De Vries

  • #2
    Re: Future of LGBT Leads in Movies

    I'm not so sure audiences across the country are buying into the gay marriage is okay thing as much as the article indicates. Every one of those 19 states is going to litigate in the supreme court eventually. What if this time they vote them down?

    I have an excellent drama I wrote two years ago about a man and his young son who both fall in love with a newly relocated lesbian couple in a small town in Georgia, and their dealing with small town bigotry. But it's also a humorous and poignant tale. It scored an 8 on Blacklist and nobody would touch it. Know why? Because even though the media reports all these glowing things on gay marriage and how it's accepted by more youth -- it sure as hell ain't that way in Georgia, and a lot of other places outside New York and LA (sadly). Like I said through my lead: "They'll have to die off before it will ever change down here." -- And that's the God's honest truth.

    They still aren't ready and I think it will be a while longer. Hell, DALLAS BUYER'S CLUB (which was effin' stellar) lost funding while they were setting up the lights. It gives them cold feet.

    But I got a good one to go whenever they decide to unpucker their butt-cheeks.
    Last edited by AE35-Unit; 08-27-2014, 11:48 AM.
    We gain our innocence by taking yours.

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    • #3
      Re: Future of LGBT Leads in Movies

      Originally posted by AE35-Unit View Post
      I'm not so sure audiences across the country are buying into the gay marriage is okay thing as much as the article indicates. Every one of those 19 states is going to litigate in the supreme court eventually. What if this time they vote them down?

      I have an excellent drama I wrote two years ago about a man and his young son who both fall in love with a newly relocated lesbian couple in a small town in Georgia, and their dealing with small town bigotry. But it's also a humorous and poignant tale. It scored an 8 on Blacklist and nobody would touch it. Know why? Because even though the media reports all these glowing things on gay marriage and how it's accepted by more youth -- it sure as hell ain't that way in Georgia, and a lot of other places outside New York and LA (sadly). Like I said through my lead: "They'll have to die off before it will ever change down here." -- And that's the God's honest truth.

      They still aren't ready and I think it will be a while longer. Hell, DALLAS BUYER'S CLUB (which was effin' stellar) lost funding while they were setting up the lights. It gives them cold feet.

      But I got a good one to go whenever they decide to unpucker their butt-cheeks.
      It's true - I don't think gay marriage enjoys widespread support yet (most polls put the nationwide figure at around 55-60% or so). But I do think tolerance of gay people in general is pretty high, thanks to beloved public figures like Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris, and popular shows like Modern Family and Orange is the New Black.

      I think the public has shown a strong interest for movies with gay leads when the lead is an important historical figure (The Hours, Capote, Milk). Of course it helps that these types of movies often draw major actors to the roles such as Nicole Kidman, PSH, and Sean Penn. But I think that outside of biopics, more mainstream audiences would be drawn to films with gay leads if they had two features:

      a) A genre bent - I think most gay-lead movies, in both the indie and studio worlds, tend to be dramas. We all know dramas in general don't do as well as other categories, but I think mainstream audiences in particular shy away from dramas with gay leads due to a greater inability to relate to their subject matter (typically specific issues such as dealing with coming out, facing prejudice/discrimination, etc.). It's the same reason they stay away from dramas lead by minority actors (unless there's an A-lister like Denzel or Will Smith at the helm). If there were more comedies/thrillers/horror/action/sci-fi films with leads who just happened to be gay, and where their personal life didn't really impact the story, I think they would do better at the box office. I think they would attract some A-listers due to their uniqueness (the way Talented Mr. Ripley atrracted Matt Damon and The Birdcage attracted Robin Williams). Maybe studios should start by giving James Franco a call, lol.

      b) A high-concept hook - I think most gay-lead movies have storylines that are rather low-concept in nature (largely due to so many of them being dramas). The ones that have performed the strongest (besides biopics) have been those with a strong and unique hook, such as The Kids are Alright, Brokeback Mountain, and Bruno. So I think writers looking to create stories with gay leads should pay as much attention to this factor (if not more) in order to increase the chances of gaining the attention of Hollywood.

      BTW, your story sounds interesting -- you should try pitching it to some of the producers behind the features mentioned above to see if you can garner any interest, if you haven't already (I think Focus Features has been particularly progressive in this arena).
      "I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.-- Peter De Vries

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      • #4
        Re: Future of LGBT Leads in Movies

        Even with the talent working for scale, Lisa Chololenko still found it an uphill battle to make KIDS. Although it went on to gross around 20 mil off a 2 mil budget, there hasn't been one since, as far as I know, so it's rare these days - more so than in the past. I saw KIDS and thought it was wonderful, as did the people I know who saw it - like all 6 of them.

        Plus you have to be very careful in your writing so as not to offend the gay community - As did KIDS with some of the lesbian community even though that was not Lisa's intent at all - and sometimes that's hard to do, even more hard if you are straight and writing a story centered around anything LGBTQ.

        Luckily, and thankfully, I have several gay friends who read my script and anything I had written that offended in any way was taken out, and/or re-written. There ain't nothin' worse than havin' pissed-off lesbians gunnin' for you (y'all know I'm kidding).

        But seriously, unless you are LGBTQ yourself, I highly recommend this approach before you send one out just to make sure -- just my opinion, your mileage may vary.
        We gain our innocence by taking yours.

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        • #5
          Re: Future of LGBT Leads in Movies

          Originally posted by AE35-Unit View Post
          Luckily, and thankfully, I have several gay friends who read my script and anything I had written that offended in any way, was taken out, or written around, or re-written.

          Unless you are gay, I highly recommend this approach before you send it out.
          I didn't and my script didn't pretty well in a gay-themed contest. (I won.)

          I've actually thought about revisiting it and giving it a better story. I've got the idea and something that I think may give it some traction with "regular" audiences, but just can't seem to find the right opening scene.

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          • #6
            Re: Future of LGBT Leads in Movies

            Originally posted by AE35-Unit View Post
            Luckily, and thankfully, I have several gay friends who read my script and anything I had written that offended in any way was taken out, and/or re-written. There ain't nothin' worse than havin' pissed-off lesbians gunnin' for you (y'all know I'm kidding).

            But seriously, unless you are LGBTQ yourself, I highly recommend this approach before you send one out just to make sure -- just my opinion, your mileage may vary.
            That's an interesting approach. But I do find it a bit concerning. I feel like screenwriters are supposed to be able to use their creativity to imagine what it's like to be in someone else's shoes. So for example, I once wrote a suicidal lead character. I have no idea what that kind of mindset involves, but I thought to myself, "what kinds of things would I say and do today if I knew I was going to take my life tonight?" And that just helped to make it feel more authentic.

            Add to that the fact that the LGBT community, like any minority community, has a lot of diversity within it (even regarding opinions as to what might be considered offensive or not), and I'd say that while this approach may be helpful, I don't know if I'd consider it necessary.
            "I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.-- Peter De Vries

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            • #7
              Re: Future of LGBT Leads in Movies

              Congrats Rich, keep on it. Hell, I rewrote mine so many times I lost count and wound up with 3 different damn versions.

              Up: I didn't mean censor yourself but mine had some sex scenes that pushed a couple of boundaries and that ain't cool. That's all I meant.
              We gain our innocence by taking yours.

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              • #8
                Re: Future of LGBT Leads in Movies

                Originally posted by AE35-Unit View Post
                Up: I didn't mean censor yourself but mine had some sex scenes that pushed a couple of boundaries and that ain't cool. That's all I meant.
                Now I really want to read it
                "I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.-- Peter De Vries

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                • #9
                  Re: Future of LGBT Leads in Movies

                  It made Evilrbt's top ten last year. But what does he know...
                  We gain our innocence by taking yours.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Future of LGBT Leads in Movies

                    I recently entered a contest with a script that's part coming-of-age, part comedy, involving a girl who's a lesbian. Though I'm not gay, I've been mistaken for being one and understand the bigotry.

                    During the second season of "Orphan Black", alpha-clone Rachel notes the sexuality of scientist Cosima with the tone of it being "disgusting", after seeing her being close with her girlfriend Delphine. Cosima counters: "My sexuality is the least interesting thing about me.". What a screenwriter must do is make a LGBT character so interesting that their sexuality becomes an element, but not the total element of the character.
                    Last edited by Madbandit; 08-28-2014, 09:47 AM.
                    "A screenwriter is much like being a fire hydrant with a bunch of dogs lined up around it.- -Frank Miller

                    "A real writer doesn't just want to write; a real writer has to write." -Alan Moore

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                    • #11
                      Re: Future of LGBT Leads in Movies

                      Originally posted by Madbandit View Post
                      I recently entered a contest with a script that's part coming-of-age, part comedy, involving a girl who's a lesbian. Though I'm not gay, I've been mistaken for being one and understand the bigotry.

                      During the second season of "Orphan Black", alpha-clone Rachel notes the sexuality of scientist Cosima with the tone of it being "disgusting", after seeing her being close with her girlfriend Delphine. Cosima counters: "My sexuality is the least thing that's interesting about me." What a screenwriter must do is make a LGBT character so interesting that their sexuality becomes an element, but not the total element of the character.
                      I'm a huge Orphan Black fan, and Cosima is actually my favorite clone (because she is the nicest). I agree that she is a great example of an LGBT character who is not defined by her sexuality, and that writers should shoot for this goal. In writing my current leads, I think of them as human first, the way I did with all of my previous straight leads. The sexuality factor only comes up if there is a romantic situation involved (the same way it would in a script with a straight lead).

                      Interestingly, I know some people who praise Cosima's character on the show also think that the character of Felix is too strongly defined by his gayness. I would disagree -- I think his defining qualities are his skepticism and his profound sense of loyalty towards his sister. The fact that he is a bit flamboyant just helps to give his character more color.
                      "I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.-- Peter De Vries

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                      • #12
                        Re: Future of LGBT Leads in Movies

                        Originally posted by AE35-Unit View Post
                        Even with the talent working for scale, Lisa Chololenko still found it an uphill battle to make KIDS. Although it went on to gross around 20 mil off a 2 mil budget, there hasn't been one since, as far as I know, so it's rare these days - more so than in the past.
                        The Skeleton Twins is getting great reviews, and should do okay. I'm really looking forward to it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Future of LGBT Leads in Movies

                          Title: OLD FASHIONED, NEW FANGLED LOVE.

                          Logline: When a small town handy-man and his young son fall for a newly relocated lesbian couple, he must stand up and fight for the woman he loves, and for the mother his son so desperately needs.

                          Drama/Family Drama/Romantic Drama

                          This made Andrew Hilton's "Lugnut List" last year. It tells the simple, bittersweet tale of one man's love for two women he can never have, yet cannot live without.
                          We gain our innocence by taking yours.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Future of LGBT Leads in Movies

                            Originally posted by AE35-Unit View Post
                            Title: OLD FASHIONED, NEW FANGLED LOVE.

                            Logline: When a small town handy-man and his young son fall for a newly relocated lesbian couple, he must stand up and fight for the woman he loves, and for the mother his son so desperately needs.

                            Drama/Family Drama/Romantic Drama

                            This made Andrew Hilton's "Lugnut List" last year. It tells the simple, bittersweet tale of one man's love for two women he can never have, yet cannot live without.
                            I'm a little unclear. Is the young son preteen or so and desperately needing mothering? Or is he the biological son of one of the women? Does the man want both women romantically? Also, who do you see as your core audience for this?

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                            • #15
                              Re: Future of LGBT Leads in Movies

                              The boy's bio-mom left them because of meth addiction when the boy was 2. Levon is now 8 and loves his dad very much but misses the company of a mother figure. Tex is a handy-man in rural Georgia and loves his boy, but he too misses the company of a woman. Darla and Michelle are married and buy an old antebellum home in the small town to be used as a residence upstairs and an antique shop downstairs. When their bedroom ceiling collapses after their first night in the house during a severe thunderstorm, Tex becomes involved in fixing the roof.

                              From there the four of them all fall in love with each other in their own way. Darla loves Tex. And Michelle, who wants a child so badly, falls in love with Levon, who needs a mom

                              But Tex loves them all and refuses to let bigotry hold sway over him - even at his own expense.
                              We gain our innocence by taking yours.

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