Watch: Why On-Screen Representation Matters
The series creator of 'Life's a Drag' knows one key way to inspire the storytellers of tomorrow.
[Editor's Note: We've invited our longtime collaborators at Seed&Spark to share videos and takeaways about crowdfunding from their filmmaker interviews at SeriesFest 2016, which we'll be posting every two weeks.]
In this week's video from SeriesFest 2016, Seed&Spark talks with Ian Verdun, creator and star of Life's a Drag, an original narrative series that explores race and gender in the drag scene. Verdun knows a thing or two about portraying complex identities on screen, and discusses the importance of minority representation both behind the scenes as well as on the screen. The interview also covers Verdun's take on the role of art in activism, and how the storytelling of tomorrow might be determined by who is shown on screens today.
Below are some key takeaways:
1. Diversity behind the camera can make your film better
Film-focused media often examines the lack of representation on screen, but it's just as important to make sure our decision-makers and crew are from all walks of life, too. "You need gay people, you need white people, you need straight people, you need brown people, you need Asian people, you need f*cking everybody," says Verdun. Because that's how you're going to get "the best work."
2. Activism doesn't bring stories down; it enhances them
"Education" can be a dirty word in filmmaking, but Verdun doesn't shy away from teaching and enlightening his audience by pushing boundaries in Life's a Drag. "You can put things in to teach people and entertain people at the same time." But making a social impact with your film is not just about finding the middle ground between a dry lecture and a rip-roaring comedy. According to Verdun, it's about portraying a common humanity. He describes, "If you can create something that's just human, that I can really just relate to because I'm human...You really do create a space where things can change."
3. Who has the power to dispel myths and stereotypes about race? You do
It's one thing to complain about lack of representation in film; it's another to do something about it. Part of the reason Ian Verdun created Life's a Drag was because he wanted to counteract stereotypical media portrayal of people of color and those on the gender and sexuality spectrum. "[The show] is about identity and masculinity...and realizing what a construct [masculinity is," explains Verdun.
Verdun takes it upon himself to put characters we've never seen before in his series, partly to inspire children who don't see people like themselves in media. "Now our job is to get away from that stereotyping...as artists, that's our responsibility."