Saturday, June 6, 2009

Enlightening Interview: We're All Angels Director

Interview with Robert Nunez, the director of the amazing documentary We're All Angels.
By: Lauren



My Summary: We're All Angels is a documentary based around the lives of two musicians, Jason and deMarco. The two of them tour together and sing, but they also happen to be Christian and gay. Obviously, things aren't always easy for the two of them but they love each other and they love what they are doing...so they persevere. I'll be posting a full review + a review of the DVD's extras in the next day or so, so keep an eye out. For now, please read the following interview and leave your thoughts. I'm sure you'll find a lot to comment on.


1. First off, I have to say that I loved the documentary and thought it was really well done. How did you first come across Jason and deMarco? How did this idea all come about?

Thank you for your kind words about the film. It means so much to me. I get very excited every time someone mentions that they've watched it!

My first exposure to Jason and deMarco came through a cover story in The Advocate. When I say the cover photo I figured they were models, likely straight models, talking about how "cool" they were with gay people. Around that time, there were a lot of straight people showing up in straight magazines giving us gay people their seal of approval. Frankly, I getting extremely bored by that. I was surprised and pleased to find out that J & dM were gay and coupled. I was thrilled to read about how wholly they embraced their identities, including their religion.

As a non-religious person, I was fascinated that these guys could embrace Christianity yet have no shame or self-loathing about their sexuality. I wanted to know more. I've seen too many gay people torn up because of religion. I hoped that if I could find out more about what made Jason & deMarco tick, then other gay people could be freed from the more hateful byproducts of religion.
2. Congratulations on all of the success that We're All Angels has received. What has some of the best feedback been?

When the documentary aired on Showtime, we all got masses of emails from people all over the country. People often "stumbled" on the film, so we weren't just preaching to the converted. I loved a particular email I got from a man in his 80s who had been a priest and had lived with so much conflict because of his religion and his sexuality. He said that if he had seen the film decades ago, he would have been spared a lifetime of pain. I felt so incredibly humbled.

I was also surprised at how many responses we got from religious mothers of adult gay children. So many of them told us that the documentary helped them to reconnect with their adult gay children after their relationships had become strained. It meant so much to me that people shared their stories.

3. For those that don't know who Jason and deMarco are, what you would want them to know about this DVD in hopes that they would watch it anyway?

I want them to know that Jason and deMarco are a lot of fun. They aren't just gay Christian poster boys. They're really funny guys who can tell jokes that can make you blush. They're sexy, romantic, ambitious and hard working. I wanted to show a full portrait of two musicians who work and love together in the tradition of Sunny and Cher and Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. They know how to make the music work and they know how to make the relationship work. But it isn't always easy!

4. One of my favorite parts in We're All Angels is when Jason is talking about not being accepted in the Christian music scene. He says that a lot of their reasoning is that homosexuality is a sin, but Jason makes a good point by saying that everyone in some way sins. I really think this quote is relevant now with the overturning of gay marriage in California, which was backed by a lot of religious people. What are your thoughts on everything that has happened lately from California to the legalization in Iowa?

First, I have to say that I'm glad Jason shared his feelings about the hypocrisy in the Christian music scene and I'm glad he did it with an appropriate amount of anger. When he was very young, he was kicked out of a Christian singing group for being honest about them for who he loves. He felt close with these guys. They toured and were like brothers. Yet when he was honest about LOVING, they kicked him off at the next bus stop. It makes me angry that people who claim to have the monopoly on charity and truth can be so hateful. And the same thing happened here in California with Prop 8.

It makes sad and angry that churches make such a priority out of denying people rights. They raise millions of dollars to stop people from loving each other. I truly don't understand how they justify it. They are perfectly content watching young men die in an unjust war, but if two men find love they will do whatever they can to stop it.

History will not look kindly on what the Morman Church did in California. The world is changing and I think they know it. They are desperate because they know they people are seeing the error in their ways. Many churches have worked to slow down the progress on equality for black people and the women's movement. But all they can do is slow it down.

I look to Iowa and the efforts of Governor Paterson in New York and I see the future. The extreme Right Wing is scared because they see change coming. I just saw a Cover Girl makeup commercial starring Ellen DeGeneres. Someone in corporate America believes that the face of beauty is a middle-aged lesbian comedian. And they're right! She is stunning i every way! What could be more beautiful than a confident, fearless and funny lesbian?

5. Do you personally have a favorite part of the documentary? Did Jason and deMarco have any say in the editing process of the DVD?

Jason and deMarco had a say in the film, but I made sure to maintain final cut. My favorite part is actually the part we clashed over most. I love the banter over the end credits. The guys get a bit racy and the humor gets a bit sexual. I loved it because they were relaxed, natural and downright funny. They were showing a side of themselves that wasn't at all manufactured or safe. It took some convincing to make the guys comfortable with showing that. In fact, they got nervous every step of the way.

We did a Q&A after the screening at Outfest (the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival) and deMarco asked the audience if they thought we should change the end credits sequence. Fortunately, Rev. Neil Thomas from MCC and Terry Brewer from the WeHo Church both chimed in and said that they wouldn't touch a thing. They thought, as I did, that a more complete picture of whole the guys were. I was so grateful for that!

Then, just weeks before the film was set to air on Showtime, Jason called me and said he thought we needed to change a few racy things including the end credits and his mention of his "mangina." This really freaked me out because I had already delivered the audio-mixed, color-corrected (expensive) master tape to Showtime and my two leads were getting cold feet. And I was in Salt Lake City shooting some promos for High School Musical 3. The guys were really nervous because their parents were worried and they had just taken on a regular gig at a church in Houston. We talked it all out and went ahead with the film as it was. Soon after the Showtime premiere, I received an email from a young man who thanked us for showing "the real" side of Jason and deMarco and said that the "mangina" line was his favorite part of the film. After that, several similar email followed and we all knew we did the right thing.

To be perfectly fair, it's much easier for me, as director, to be bold. J & dM are putting their lives and their reputation up for judgement. They were brave to put their story out their and very, very brave to put it in my hands.

But truly, my favorite part of the film is Alan Lett's story. Alan is Jason & deMarco's producer and he's written some wonderful songs that showed up on their "Till The End of Time" CD. Alan was just 20 years old when we started the documentary and he already had two CDs out and his own recording studio. (Check out AlanLett.com) He comes from a very religious home and his family was torn apart when he came out, but after meeting Jason & deMarco, the family is closer than ever. The story that they tell is the film is so raw and emotional, I cried when I was putting it together in the editing room.

Alan's mom has come so far in such a short time. She's a truly beautiful woman who embodies the best of what a mother can give. Meeting the Lett family was one of the greatest parts of this journey. Through them, we see how inspirational and healing it can be when people like Jason & deMarco are out and open about their lives and stories.

6. On a more professional level, how did you become involved in movie work and what have you worked on in the past? Any advice for people looking to do the same?

I started in the movie business as an interviewer. I filled in for my then-boyfriend in 1997, interviewing the cast of a somewhat forgotten barbarian movie called Kull (starring Hercules' Kevin Sorbo). I guess I did well enough since it's 12 years later and I'm still doing interviews for the same Latin American TV station. It's been a dream come true for this boy from suburban Orange County, California to meet just about every living movie star and travel the world. I'm grateful for it every day and I couldn't have done it with out the kindness and support from so many people, especially my ex-boyfriend Simon who I'm still very close with.

There are so many great opportunities for people looking to get into entertainment now. The power has been decentralized to a degree. You can get a pretty cheap camera, a Mac and have people all over the world watch what you do on YouTube. But with any opportunity, it's what you do with it. My best advice is to do your homework and be very prepared. Read, ask questions and watch, really watch, people you admire. Be true to yourself and find your own voice. You are not going to be Oprah. Oprah is already Oprah and she is doing it beautifully. It's inspirational to see someone like Rachel Maddow come along on Air America and MSNBC. She's out, brilliant and sometimes charmingly awkward. Figure out what sets you apart and nurture it.
Most importantly, just do what you want to do.

If you want to write, start a blog and write. If you want to have a show, do a podcast. If you want to work on a film set or a movie studio, apply as a temp or assistant. Be consistent, follow through and keep in mind that it's going to take hard work once you're in so make sure it's something you really want.

7. Are you working on anything new at the moment? (I sincerely hope so, by the way) If you could do another documentary, who or what would you like to focus on next time around?

I'm doing my regular interviewing work right now. "We're All Angels" was self-financed (with help from generous donations from Michael Huffington and Morgan Sauer) and made with a very small crew, so it took a lot out of me. I would love to explore more gay lives in the future. I would really love to pack up my camera and follow around Jimmy Somerville.

Mr. Somerville, the voice of gay survival anthem "Smalltown Boy," was out of the closet and making music long before it was fashionable or safe. He's been a huge inspiration to me. I'd really like to see what happens after the spotlight fades a bit, but the voice and courage go on as strong as ever. Unfortunately, music rights and clearances are so difficult to deal with. It would take quite a bit of money to do it.

But I'll definitely continue tell our stories in one form or another. Making "We're All Angels" has been the greatest experience of my life.


Lauren Says: All I have to say right now is that you should buy this DVD if you are at all interested int it, because it's seriously amazing. I found out about it awhile ago and could NOT wait for its release. It's worth watching.
Trailer-

6 comments:

Kate said...

This sounds like the type of documentary I would enjoy watching! Great interview :)

Eli said...

Wow this is the first time I have heard of this documentary! Sounds very interesting and I hope I get to watch it in the future!! Great interview as well-- I'm sure I'll look back on it once I see the documentary.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Kate: That's great, I thought the same, so I hope you'll watch it sometime soon. Thanks, glad you liked it. :)

Eli: Yay, I'm glad we could show you something new. I hope you do as well, I'm so happy you enjoyed the interview. Definitely let me know what you thought once you do watch it.

-Lauren

Anonymous said...

Well if you are wondering what Kevin Sorbo aka hercules is doing now, you can follow him on twitter and yes it is really him.

Follow Kevin Sorbo at Twitter! http://twitter.com/ksorbs

Julia Caban said...

This was a really great interview with Robert Nunez regarding "We're All Angels" and Jason and deMarco. I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking to Robert at the NewFest and OutFest Premieres of the film and I found him to be warm and witty and knowledgeable both about the film and his craft. I have also had the pleasure to meet Jason and deMarco and their parents several times and everything Robert says about them is so true and then some.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Julia: Thank you so much for the nice words, I'm really happy that you liked the interview. I wanted to show people something new and hopefully get others interested in seeing the documentary as I loved it as well (hope to have the review up this week). That's great you've been able to meet all of them.


-Lauren