We are proud to be the official social media sponsor of the ReelQ Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival (PUFF) August 4-6, 2017 at the Melwood Screening Room.
Saturday at 12 PM – Only In Pittsburgh! was created to showcase emerging LGBTQ+ short films made by the ‘Burgh’s burgeoning film community. ReelQ teamed up with Film Kitchen and the Indie Oaks Festival to present our favorite movies written and directed in Pittsburgh with the goal of connecting emerging filmmakers to new audiences.
We had a chance to talk with the team involved with “How to Find a Man: An Educational Film,’ a parody of a 1950s educational/instructional PSA shot on 16mm film. Interviews are director Meg Koleck and stars Nomi Darling (Tristan Reid) and Alistair McQueen.
What draws you to the mockumentary genre?
Meg: I’m drawn to mockumentary, parody and camp because they are self-aware commentaries on our cultural experience. The content and style are intentional and often call attention to absurd or even damaging norms within societal values. Exaggeration provides comic relief and invites the audience to participate in these forms of cultural critique.
Tristan: I’ve always been a fan of mockumentary pieces, especially Christopher Guest’s films and Sacha Baron Cohen’s films, but for very different reasons. Christopher Guest’s films seem to feature those great casts of improv comedians creating their characters collaboratively and with such artful details that end up being so true and so hilarious. In this sense, I think Alistair, Meg and I all wanted desperately to connect with other filmmakers and creators with a similar perspective and create our own group of Dreamlanders, John Waters’s original film group. And Sacha Baron Cohen utilized the genre so effectively to create powerful satires of prejudices and hate in Borat and Brüno, and we realized that the genre was a wonderful vehicle to lampoon sexism.
Alistair: I’m specifically drawn to working with talented people and telling interesting stories. ”How to Find A Man” is great because it takes a more modern and feminist twist on ridiculous documentaries that used to exist telling women how to be behave. It’s also absurd… because any movie instructing you on how to behave is absurd.
Does the modern queer looking for love have something to learn from 1950s era advice?
Meg: Everyone has something to learn from this era in history, especially while under a political administration that wants to revert society back to this post-war, nuclear family 1950s suburban lie. When it comes to the modern queer looking for love I don’t recommend romanticizing this era unless you are looking to enforce traditional gender identity roles in a relationship, which i also dont recommend.
Tristan: I think we could all learn from the good manners and slick fashion of the 1950s. That attitude of enjoying life regardless of the incessant threat of a nuclear holocaust seems rather appropriate for our time as well.
Alistair: I think the modern queer would get about as much from “How to Find A Man” as they would from tripe like “Finding Prince Charming”.
How much time goes into making a 6 minute film? What’s the appeal of a short format?
Meg: This particular production was a student film. I was assigned to create something only a few minutes in duration. The amount of time that goes into a short film varies from project to project. It could be one day, a 48 hour festival project, or as in this case, about half an academic semester. Short films are cheaper to make (especially when shot on film, like this movie) and have many convenient options for distribution. Short films are also great experiences to have before committing to a feature production.
Tristan: This was the second film that I acted in while performing in drag. The first was Alistair’s Charlie’s Angels parody Father Charlie’s Angels, which is how I got the part for Meg’s film. This was also before Alistair and I started doing our YouTube series, “The Nomi Darling Show,” a mockumentary-style news show. I think certain elements that go into short film–tone, nuance, perspective, etc.–those qualities that can’t easily be quantified, are often the ones that leave the most indelible impression with viewers.
Alistair: Meg spent months working on this. We spent hours filming over multiple days. And then Meg had another month of editing afterwards.
Tell me about the cast.
Meg: This film has a two person cast. We were all connected via Pittsburgh Filmmakers, where Alistair and I worked at the time. Alistair knew I wanted to cast a drag performer with some acting experience and recommended Tristan, who was the perfect fit. The three of us complement each other so well and we went on to produce more videos together.
Alistair: I was the obvious star of the film, Lou-Anne Brumfeld. Tristan was my quirky co-star. We also had an animal actor who was trained to attack at the smell of tomato sauce.
How will queer art save the world?
Meg: Queer art strengthens many communities–queer, cult, political, artistic, and more. There’s absolutely a need for queer expression and representation in the world. Creating and sharing queer art breaks down walls of “otherness” and instead builds more open, empathetic, and diverse communities.
People from all cultures turn to art during times of turmoil, economic depression, systemic oppression, enlightenment, and renaissance. Today’s political climate needs queer artists to participate in educating the masses.
Saving the world is a task no one group can accomplish but starting small, starting local, leads to organically grown social change. Queer art’s cultural contribution will continue to positively influence audiences and embed queer voice and inclusive values into societies and generations to come.
Tristan: I’d like to defer this question to legendary drag queen Peaches Christ and filmmaker Joshua Grannell, who I interviewed for the Smoke This Productions YouTube channel operated by Alistair when he came to Pittsburgh to screen his film All About Evil. I asked Peaches how parody could operate as a form of activism for the queer community, and she had this brilliant response:
“I guess in some ways growing up queer we as a community didn’t see our stories reflected in the stuff that we love, and with the rare exception of John Waters’s films and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, we often had to find our queer narrative.
What I like to do with parody is regurgitate a story that we all love and characters that we love, but really queer them and make them twisted and reflect the world that we come from. Now is that political? I don’t know. It’s my job is take stuff that people love and then best celebrate that with that audience.”
Watch the interview here: https://youtu.be/KwcRu4ByDsg
Alistair: To quote Edith Massey in ‘Female Trouble’, directed and written by my hero, John Waters, “Queers are just better!”. I’m a firm believer in this statement. I think exposing queer art and the gay agenda to the rest of the world will make more queer people and eventually will lead to a homosexual takeover of society. And then the world will be better.
Tell us about your other projects with links please.
Meg: Many of my other projects are a mix of campy comedies, documentary, multi-media & technology. I work for myself, help friends with their independent projects, and pick up freelance work. I am looking forward to creating interactive experiences in the form of installations, 360 video,and performance. I am also working towards developing an underground film and video collective to put like-minded artists in touch with one another and find more options for independent distribution. I teach a video production course at Pittsburgh Filmmakers and work in instructional technology at the University of Pittsburgh.
- Writer, director, producer, crew, talent, 1st camera, editor
“Oprah Loves Bread Parody” 2016, 30 seconds
“Lena Dunham Parody” 2016, playlist
- Co-creator, camera, crew, editor
“The Mutineer” trailer. 2016, feature length
- Assistant Director
“Reference Point” 2015-Present, web series. Link to pilot.
- Season 1 on vimeo, season 2 in post, season 3 in production
- Writer’s team, co-producer, crew
- Assistant Director, Production Manager
- Writer, director, producer, set design, camera, crew
- Second Runner Up in the 2015 Film Kitchen “Kitsch” themed competition
“Shit Head 2012” 2012, 4 mins and “We Bathe In Trash” 2012, 3 mins
- Creator, camera, editor
Tristan: I’m a comedian and writer based here in Pittsburgh. I’ll be reading a story in WordPlay September 8 and 9 at the Briccolage Theater on Liberty Avenue in lovely Downtown Pittsburgh about the time I set my San Francisco apartment on fire while doing naked yoga.
I’ve performed in the Moth twice, winning the StorySlam once and performing in the GrandSlam. I’ve also performed in the “10 Minute Play Festival” over 5 times and a number of other plays here in the city. I’ve acted in many films, both in and out of drag, but my greatest achievement so far has been the over 30 episodes of “The Nomi Darling Show” that I starred in and produced with Alistair. Here’s a link to a sequential playlist of the first season. Be sure to subscribe to Alistair’s channel, which is incredibly well-produced and edited considering he does it alone, and often on location with little to no preparation.
I’ve written and co-starred with local comedian John Dick Winters in a short entitled Open Mike filmed entirely at the wonderful Hambone’s. Watch it here
Alistair: I’m a dancer with the Steel City Kitty Burlesque & Variety Show. We are an over-the-top entertainment troupe with national tours and big productions every few months in Pittsburgh and San Francisco. I’ve performed all across Europe, North America, and Australia, I’ve been a featured performer on America’s Got Talent, “the Best of Burlesque” at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and I’m “King” of the Great Southern Exposure. I’m a professional penis caricature artist, a character actor (Playing roles such as Bob Ross, Mr. Rogers, Josephine Baker, and Richard Simmons), and I consider myself an exercise guru. I’m also an event producer at Pittsburgh’s number one gay bar, the Blue Moon Bar on Butler St. I moved to Pittsburgh to study filmmaking and have made several web series projects since coming here: ‘The Nomi Darling Show, which is a web series starring local drag queen and my co-star for ‘How To Find A Man’, Nomi Darling. My other web series is a 15 city tour of Europe with local jazz musician, Phat Man Dee. The musical web series we filmed is entitled ‘Take it to the Bridge with Phat Man Dee’. I’ve also filmed music videos for Phat Man Dee, Amoeba Knievel, and for the Indecent Divas.
(Director, Lighting, Camera Operator, Editor)
(Director, Camera Operator, Editor)
(Director, Lighting, Camera Operator, Editor)
Thank you to Meg, Tristan, and Alistair for talking with us about their experiences making this film. Please check it out Saturday at 12 PM at the Melwood Theater as part of the ReelQ Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival.