Spring is finally here, and we’ve had some perfect weather for taking a book outside to read. With my background in LGBT literature, I was really excited to have the opportunity this month to interview filmmaker Lisa Marie Evans, who is working on a documentary that examines the history of lesbian literature from the 1950s on. She hopes to have this groundbreaking project ready for distribution in 2018. I cannot wait!
Your latest project is a documentary titled Legacies of Lesbian Literature Project, which examines the history of lesbian literature. What led you to this project?
Sandra Moran was a native Kansan and author who died suddenly in 2015 after a diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer. I had met her just once and saw the outpouring of community support for her on Facebook after that diagnosis. I could see she was loved by the masses. She and Marianne K. Martin, one of the best-selling lesbian romance authors and a founding partner of Bywater Books, had laid this project out together before Sandra became sick.
Cheryl Pletcher, Sandra Moran’s widow, and Marianne decided to move this project forward in the spirit of Sandra. They needed a filmmaker. About a year ago, Elizabeth Andersen and Jamie Rich introduced me to Cheryl over dinner at McCoy’s. We hit it off and communicated via email before having a FaceTime conference call with Marianne. That was the first official meeting between the three of us. The next meeting was in person at the Golden Crown Literary Society’s 2016 conference as we were setting up for our first interview with Lee Lynch.
Prior to this film, I wasn’t very familiar with lesbian literature. Now, it’s necessary to read quite a bit of lesbian fiction to prepare for the film. I am so happy to have entered the world of lesbian fiction.
Where are you at in the process of creating the documentary?
We are currently in production. We have interviewed Lee Lynch, Jewelle Gomez, Jenifer Levin, Ann Bannon and Dorothy Allison. We have quite a few more interviews left. I am working on a trailer for the project, so stay tuned.
The scope of this project must be massive. How many authors do you expect to include, and how will you choose?
At first, Sandra Moran and Marianne K. Martin had a solid 10 authors that they chose from the 1950s to today. I’ve heard it was a difficult choice for them. Marianne is in charge of whom we interview for the most part. Cheryl and I give input, but truly we defer to her for that knowledge and expertise in literature. As an editor, I’m looking to tell the stories in a creative fashion and within the time allotted for our film. Right now, I’m taking everything in and processing the information.
Do you hope to interview living authors included in the film? If so, which?
We have interviewed Lee Lynch (The Swashbuckler), Jewelle Gomez (The Gilda Stories), Jenifer Levin (The Sea of Light), Ann Bannon (Beebo Brinker) and Dorothy Allison (Bastard Out of Carolina). We are scheduled to interview Katherine V. Forrest (Curious Wine), Emma Donoghue (Hood), Jeanette Winterson (Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit), Rita Mae Brown (Rubyfruit Jungle). We are hoping to interview Alice Walker (The Color Purple).
How big is this project in comparison to others that you have done?
This is a pretty large-scale project by nature. I’m trying to learn this world of lesbian fiction as I’m working on the film. I’m traveling often for interviews, and I love that. For the most part, I work as the producer, director, videographer and editor for my films. I love working on a team for this film with Cheryl Pletcher as a producer and Marianne K. Martin as a director and producer. We are working together with these amazing authors to tell a huge piece of our LGBT history that has yet to be told. These are powerful histories and stories that need to be in out in the world. We hope to do that in the best way possible through this film.
When do you hope to finish the documentary?
We hope to finish the film in 2018. Right now, we are in production. We will be fundraising to enter the post-production phase. You can keep up with us by signing up for our newsletter at www.projectlegacies.com. Making a film is wonderful and expensive journey. The more help we have, the better our film can be. We really want to engage our communities in this process. This is our history.
Will you then market it to film festivals, and what is that process?
I’m hoping to work with a distribution consultant to create an innovative plan for distribution. That will help us develop a solid outline for festivals, screenings and distribution. You know, you finish a film and then you have this entire other life for the film. There’s this whole world of distribution and festivals. I love film festivals. I curate festivals, I’ve been on the board for festivals, I go to festivals as a filmmaker. Festivals are expensive, so you do need to plan for them in the budget. Also, they need to align with your vision for the life of the film. If you haven’t been to a film festival, you should add that to your bucket list.
Do you feel confident that this project can be marketed successfully to non-LGBT film festivals? Why or why not?
Sure. There are many festivals out there, so you do need to shop around and see if your film is a good fit. Recently, I went to True False Film Fest [in Columbia, Mo.]. I go just about every year. It’s an awesome festival. They could have used more LGBT films. I think all festivals need more LGBT films. I’d be happy to have ours in other festivals to spread the good word.
In addition to documentaries, what other types of art do you create?
My work varies from feature-length documentary films to short animation and public art installation. I am drawn to combining animation within documentaries to enhance the storytelling process. I also use animation for installation videos. I love collaborations and often partner with other artists to expand my creativity. I learn by doing and trying.
Which lesbian author would you most like to have lunch with, and why?
Sandra Moran. I’ve been fortunate to meet with these authors as we work through our interviews, and I’ve felt Sandra right along with us on this project. She touched the lives of so many, and she had this amazing smile. You just knew she was good people. And her blogs were hilarious. So I’d love to have connected with her a bit more.