As you may know, we love to promote the work of indie filmmakers, and find it interesting to speak to them about their experiences working in the industry. I had the chance to speak to Nate Locklear, the director of an up and coming feature film call God Made Man. This is a great project and one that I hope all our readers will seek out. Please find the interview below.
Bianca Garner: Hi, could you introduce yourself and your role within the production of the film?
Nate Locklear: My name is Nate Locklear, I’m an indie filmmaker and film instructor out of Austin, TX. I had many roles on our film: director, cinematographer, co-writer, producer, and editor. I love collaboration but I also love getting involved in as many positions as possible to really make the film.
BG: How did the story of God Made Man come about?
NL: It was 2009 when my friend, Kayla Olson (Producer, Co-writer, Story) initially wrote God Made Man, at first as a short. She desperately wanted to create films she could relate to; “Queer Films.” Then she began turning it into a feature. But over the years she could not bring herself to move forward. Finally in 2015, she approached me, and knowing my style, determination and talents she handed over the script and creative control to make the film a reality. So, I rewrote the script, enhancing the central conflict while remaining true to the original intentions.
Nayla and I had met at the college where I teach and I selected her to be an intern for the PBS show, The Daytripper, which I was also co-producing and working as the cinematographer. She and I became great friends. Eventually, I decided to leave the show and create my own 12-part web series, Once You Leave, about a young lesbian woman on the road trying to find her place in society after tragedy strikes. Kayla played the lead, co-produced and helped develop the overall story. We won several awards for cinematography, editing, best drama and Kayla won an actor award. We were also accepted into a few festivals, one being aGLIFF (Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival) as the first web series ever accepted. Years after all of this was when Kayla approached me and suggested our next project together be God Made Man.
The title, “God Made Man” has many meanings, the easiest: it just sounds really great. But if you dig deeper we can also apply it to the religious belief that an almighty being, a God, has created man (and woman) in his image. Our film takes three very diverse and lonely individuals who all have various connections to a higher power. And throughout the film they question the notion that man was created in the image of a higher power. For instance, our lead is a transgender female-to-male: so if God made man in his image but a transgender person changes their identity, where would a higher power fit in there? Our other lead, a gay drag queen, is Catholic and has to deal with the repercussions of living in a society and faith that often condemns the lifestyle of the LGBTQ+ community. He too questions his existence and the fact that he only feels like his true self when he dresses in drag and performs.
And finally the antagonist, a corrupt lawyer, is consumed by anger and pain and lives a conflicted life as a seemingly devout Christian man but in actuality he deals in many illegal transgressions. He questions, if God made man, how could he make men do such horrendous acts. Our film is by no means a religious film and it’s definitely not preachy. We were much more interested in these characters as people and how they live and interact. But there is a subtle backdrop of the questioning: is there a higher power creating people in his image and how does that affect us?
BG: On your website you refer to the film as a ”queer” film, could you explain what is meant by the term ”queer film” is and how God Made Man falls into this category?
NL: It’s so important to tell gay, lesbian, transgender, bi-sexual and overall diverse stories and tell them in a real and honest way. The word “queer” has been and still can be a very polarizing term. To some it’s a term of hate and oppression, while to others, who are, “taking it back,” it’s an all-encompassing term for a community of people who know humans don’t all have to fit into gender norms, sexuality stereotypes or even “traditional” body identities.
God Made Man is about a transgender man, a gay drag queen, and a bi-sexual lawyer. The story also holds a series of other unique individuals: lesbians, gender neutral people, drag queens and more. We as filmmakers had a duty to make sure these characters were represented truthfully and not in a stereotypical, or stereo-negative fashion. We did our research and hope it will show in the story of these lovely humans.
Our entire filmmaking team was made up of everything from gay men, lesbians, transgender, cisgender, gender-neutrals, non-binary, heterosexuals allies and more! We all worked together and we all respect and love each other. And we hope you will enjoy our film regardless of your gender or sexual orientation.
BG: Tell me a little about the actors you chose for the film?
NL: The casting process was difficult but with each of the leads we knew right away. The film contains a variety of, actors working professionally, first time actors and non-actors. We pulled from friends, people we’ve worked with before and auditions. And even the crew too would often fill in as extras. For the auditions we put out calls on sites for actors, social media and word of mouth.
When we held the auditions, especially for the transgender character, we wanted to make sure to be inclusive and be open to all types of interested actors. We got people who actually were transgender, gender-neutrals, gender-queers, non-binary, and androgynous actors. We wanted to be truthful and we also wanted the best performance and look. When we got to see Lee, we immediately knew they would be the perfect lead.
Lee Dawn Hershey (Rhett) is relatively new to acting. This will be their first lead role in a feature film. Lee also appeared in the Amazon Series, The Mojave Sisters. Lee has been picking up speed lately appearing in many commercials for such companies as Apple, Bonobos and Adidas. Besides acting Lee models and is the co-owner of Girls With Flair! an event production company.
Sebastian Cummings (Doyle) is relatively new to film acting. He cut his teeth in theater. He’s also a drag performer, singer, performing artist and model. And he enjoys traveling the world.
Mike Gassaway (Ted) is an Emmy® winning actor appearing in films such as The Magnificent Seven, Dallas, and Thrilla in Manilla. He also appears in many independent films and series. Before acting he was a highly respected defense lawyer out of Oklahoma.
BG: How did you manage to find funding for your film?
NL: We held a Kickstarter campaign and raised about $10K. We then had some fundraisers at a local LGBTQ bar in Austin, TX called Cheer Up Charlie’s. We got donations from local people, Hotel San Jose and even a famous actor. And our Executive Producer, Robert J. Barnhart helped us out tremendously. We also racked up our credit cards some but luckily we got a ton of stuff for free, discounted and/or for deferred payment. We’re actually in the process now of raising finishing funds. We believe we have something pretty special and we want to finish right so we’re still looking for color grading, DCP creation, festival entry and travel funds, E&O Insurance and more.
BG: Did you encounter any challenges during the filming process? And if so how did you overcome them?
NL: It’s tough to shoot a film in 19 days, especially with a micro budget. And we somehow thought it’d be okay to have dozens of locations. That was probably the biggest challenge. But somehow we pulled it off. We had a great and dedicated crew, even nights when we were down to four crew members including myself. I think we just all wanted to make it happen. We could see the hard work and passion the actors were delivering and we didn’t want to let them or the story down.
And now as we finish the film, the help of: Kayla Olson, our Co-Producers, Gregg Baethge and James Froeschle and our Executive Producer Robert J. Barnhart has been crucial for not only the work but for moral support.
BG: What has been the reception to the film, especially with the LGBTQ community?
NL: We haven’t released yet but hope to Christmas of 2018, depending on festivals etc. But so far I feel there is a buzz growing in the LGBTQ community. And those that have heard of it and/or are following us are super excited to see the final piece.
BG: Are you currently working on any other projects, how can we support you with any future film projects?
NL: We’re finishing up this project. We’re very close to a solid cut and we’re entering ADR, sound, color etc in early Fall if all goes well. Ways to support us is of course follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, share our pages and trailer with people. And we’re still raising finishing funds. The future of micro budget films is always dependent on funds and perseverance but we feel confident. Sharing our future crowdfunding or crowdinvesting campaign and/or contributing to them would be awesome. Or if you know or are an investor and interested in LGBTQ films we should talk.
A huge thank you to Nate, and please do check out the following links below. We can’t wait to see the final film, and wish all cast and crew the best of luck with their future projects.