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An Interview with Brandon and Leia Gadow, Makers of Trantastic

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2011

 

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Your new film Trantastic - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Leia- At its core meaning it is an exaggerated mirror of all people. All people hate, even if they call it something else. We wanted to show the hypocrisy that everyone has in them. We all have double standards about something even if we don't know it. Even we do. In fact anything that can cause such a strong emotion in us such as anger or hate is usually directed at ourselves but our egos are too self involved to know it. We chose our characters to be transvestites because some things such as clothing and appearance are so unimportant that for someone to be so emotional about it whether for or against it seems to be just ridiculous enough for one of our films.

 

When it comes to non-gay transvestites, weird movie lovers like myself can't help but think of Ed Wood's Glen or Glenda [Ed Wood bio - click here], and ... I have no idea how to turn this into a question, but would you like to comment on my remark anyhow?

 

Brandon- We couldn't help but think of it too. In fact it is kind of an homage to Ed Wood. We think he is one of the best filmmakers ever. That was also the reason why we used the PSA stock footage.

 

What were your initial inspirations when writing Trantastic?

 

Brandon- Hypocrisy in society…

 

Leia- ... which is what all our films are about generally.

Brandon- yeah, I've always worn women's pants because I like they way they fit me better. No one ever seems to notice, but if it ever comes up suddenly it's weird. But they didn't even know until I or someone said something. So the pants didn't become "women's pants" until a mind made them so. We've always been amazed by how the human mind labels something "good" or "bad" for a male or female and then it is so. Pants are pants. Its cloth stitched together, but because this pair is in the women's section they're only to be worn by women etc. And its not just the cloths we humans do this with. It's amazing.

 

Much of the dialogue (or rather monologues) in Trantastic seems to be improvised. Am I right in this assumption, and how detailed and rigid was the script you were working with?

 

Brandon- Yes you are correct. With all our films we find that improv seems to feel more natural. Of course we give the actors the basic points we want to be made, but we want them to deliver however they feel the character would. This also forces the actors to really have to become their character and be in the moment as that character, reacting as that character would without having time to think about the reaction, like real life.


Leia- like the scene with "Chuck" on his patio after his cat died. We all felt his pain, the whole crew felt this heaviness fall upon us. I don't think that would have happened if we gave him some lines to memorize.

 

How much research did you do on the subject matter of Trantastic, and are there really such groups as NATAG (Not All Transvestites Are Gay)?

 

Leia- Well, we didn't really "research" anything. Unless you count our whole lives as research. Most of Trantastic was just based on our own experiences. 

I don't know that there are any real groups like NATAG, but we always say, "If you can think of it, it probably already exists." If a group like NAMBLA can exists I'm sure there are groups like NATAG.

 

How would you describe your directorial approach? And why did you take the fake documentary-route?

 

Brandon- With all our films we have the feeling that our films direct themselves. Sometimes a film starts with just a word, or a image or a color or a costume idea. It just pops in your head. Then some time later another idea just pops in that could go along with your pervious idea. Pretty soon you have all these "random" ideas but something about them all seem to have a common thread, though you might not know what that is yet but you can still feel it there. So we'll start messing around with the camera, or write a scene or play with some effects, as long as we keep "playing" something starts to form and from there we can write an outline, we don't really write scripts because we want the film to become alive in itself.

 

We made Trantastic a fake documentary because we originally wanted to do a real documentary about transvestites. We wanted to explore how they deal with the everyday "drama" of their lives. But when we talked to a few of them in consideration for the film they were all pretty boring and it kinda started to turn into a bitch fest. We all have plenty to bitch about, it just wasn't doing it for us. So we made up some characters that we wished we could have found.

 

As far as I know, Trantastic was made on a very low budget. How did that affect your film, and would you have done anything differently if you had more funds?

 

Brandon- Yes, it's pretty obvious that we work with extremely low budgets. But we've always been the type that enjoy the lo-fi. Some of Elvis' most awesome recordings were done with just an acoustic guitar. We love the early recordings of The Cramps, its so "low budget" but the essence is there. Its not the quality of the project but the quality of the content that is important to us.

 

Leia- Of course who wouldn't spend the money if you have it, but we don't have it and we don't let this really affect the movies we make all that much. Sure we can't have massive explosions or car chases or other sometimes unnecessary elements, but we never scratch an idea because of budget. We may have to modify it and that's ok. There's always a work-around. Working with ultra low budgets and being influenced by artists that worked with low budgets has shaped our filmmaking style and we are grateful for that. If we did have more funding on Trantastic though it would be nice to be able to pay those that had to volunteer to be part of the project. We will always be indebted to those wonderfully ScUMMY angels.

 

Who chose all the wonderfully garish transvestite-outfits? And honestly, what did it feel like to appear on cam dressed like a woman?

 

Brandon- We actually let each actor choose their own costumes, we felt it would help them think about their roles. What would each character choose themselves?

 

I can't speak for Jesse or Chuck but for me it felt pretty good. I've always been kinda jealous that women have a lot more choices when it come to wardrobe. Designers pay a lot more attention to the woman consumer, and I understand why. But what about the fashionista men…? Both Leia and I are into fashion and we can be a little garish ourselves, in fact we had our own clothing line for a minute, so costumes are always one of the funniest parts of pre- production.

 

Leia- I called Jesse and Chuck to ask them how they felt about being on camera in women's clothing, this is what they had to say:

 

Chuck- Liberating and constricting at the same time. Most of my clothes were a little snug. I like my funeral dress the most!

 

Jesse- Natural unlike the action of eating a burrito. I don't like to be told the ratio of rice to beans etc. If you understood my character you would understand why i don't like burritos, in the film it is evident.

 

A few words about your main cast, and is any of them into crossdressing in real life?

 

Leia- None of them are real crossdressers which is a testimony to their masculinity. Both Chuck Green and Jesse Yepez blew us away. They were both very in character and quick in their reaction. I could tell they were in the moment. Especially Chuck during his "breakdown" scene on the patio. I know he had to be drawing on his own circumstances. Their dedication to ScUMBAG has been beyond touching and helpful to our productions.

 

One of my favourite scenes in Trantastic is the GOD TV interview ... and once again, I don't know how to turn this into a question, so feel free to answer in any which way you please!

 

Brandon- Yeah, we love that one too! Pastor Patrick is actually a re-accruing character from one of our past films, Holy Shit. He is based on a TV personality as well as some people we know personally. He is played by Rick Reger who was also a producer and writer on our first film, Grape Jelly: Memoir of a Teenage Cannibal. We find those religious programs somewhat entertaining and odd. So we wanted that same odd sense of non-logic to come through in that scene. A lot of people seem to like it too.

 

Your film is framed by a hilariously reactionary authentic vintage PSA. Now where did you find this?

 

Brandon- We've known about that film, "Perversion for Profit," for some time just from trolling around on the internet late at night. It was part of our homage to Ed Wood [Ed Wood bio - click here] to use something from one of those stock footage houses. Also thought it was a nice time capsule. What he was saying seemed so ridiculous to us, but what is going to seem ridiculous to the next generations? What are our PSAs going to show about us?

 

Filmmakers who influenced Trantastic's style?

 

Brandon- Well we've talked about it some already, but Ed Wood and John Waters, also The Cramps and their intoxicating androgyny. A lot of times we're more inspired by musicians than filmmakers. The feelings that are evoked in us by music are so strong, but neither of us are very musically inclined, but we still have a need to regurgitate and filter it through our own consciousness. So we try to do that visually. That's why we also love doing music videos. You can be a lot more abstract.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Brandon- Pink Flamingos, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (original), Glen or Glenda, Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound, Naked Lunch, The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Man Bites Dog.

 

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Leia- Female Trouble, Night of the Living Dead (original), Plan 9 from Outer Space, Bringing Up Baby (1938), The Ten Commandments (1956).

 

... and of course, films you really deplored?

 

Brandon- It's hard to say that there are any movies we really deplore. All films have their redeeming qualities. If there is a movie we don't like maybe its that we just didn't get it. Just like our own films. Anyone that hates one of our films just didn't get it.

 

Your/your film's website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

All of our films can be found through ScumbagMovies.com

our facebook- http://www.facebook.com/pages/ScUMBAG-Movies/115208147491

our twitter- http://twitter.com/#!/scumbagmovies

our YouTube- http://www.youtube.com/scumbagmovies

 

Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Well, we have to talk about what we think is a awesome sound track. Some amazing artists donated songs to this film. The opening song That Thing You Have is by Damn Laser Vampires. Also incredible work in the film by Uncle Butcher and his One Man Band, ∆aimon (an up and coming witch house duo), Paul Rey ( who is doing the score to our next film) and The Jim Rowdy Show.

  

Speaking of the next project coming up… www.nazialientimetravelers.com
 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
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