“We’re all going to become straight,” HOWL co-director Rob Epstein blurted out near the end of the Queer Cinema’s Next Wave panel earlier this week. He was joking, of course, as he answered an audience member’s question about “where the community is moving as far as the stories that are going to be told” in the future.
The panel, which was organized by Sundance Institute Associate GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and held at the Filmmaker Lodge on Tuesday, featured Epstein and his longtime co-director, Jeffrey Friedman; their HOWL producer Christine Walker; and New Frontier performance artist Kalup Linzy, who screened a clip from his alternately funny and trippy video series Sweet, Sampled, and LeftOva.
In answering the call to look into the crystal ball about the next wave of LGBTQ+ filmmaking, Epstein pointed out that it may not be the kinds of stories that will mark the next wave, but the way they’re created that will matter.
“There’s infinite possibilities now,” he said. “Maybe it won’t happen in the same way as it’s happened in the past – those waves won’t be as identifiable.” In other words, the ways in which new technologies have made it easier for all filmmakers to create material will influence LGBTQ+ filmmakers as well and hopefully encourage new, innovative storytelling.
“I feel like gay people are always breaking new ground,” the panel’s moderator, Taj Paxton, GLAAD’s director of media entertainment, pointed out. That may be the case, but LGBTQ+ filmmakers still have to adapt to the ways their audiences will take in their projects.
“Filmmakers are still waiting for a studio deal, waiting for a distributor,” she said. “And it really feels like when I see media being consumed, people really are watching their media on their iPods and they’re downloading it on their Roku,” the new digitial video player technology. Then, alluding to the hurdles we all face when new technologies are introduced, she asked, “Is everybody familiar with [the Roku]? I think I scared somebody in the back.”