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MEET THE FILMMAKER | Mark Pariselli – “Monster Mash”

A Q&A with Albert Payano, Outfest Assistant Programmer, and Mark Pariselli, filmmaker of Monster Mash, playing in the Shorts program Friends & Lovers at the 2015 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival

Albert Payano: The piece has some interesting interpretations of religious passages. What role does religion play in your life?

Mark Pariselli: My household wasn’t super religious while I was growing up, but I did attend Catholic school until grade 8.  As a queer kid, being subjected to that dogma day in and day out definitely impacted my self-perception and delayed my self-acceptance.  However, by the time I was in my final year of middle school, I was regularly getting into trouble for hiding in the bushes during recess to listen to Marilyn Manson on my discman, and constantly raising my hand during Religion class to question and criticize what we were being taught.  Thankfully, I was able to go to a public high school.  Prior to making ‘Monster Mash,’ retrospectives of my short films were presented in Toronto and Sicily.  Frighteningly, it wasn’t until I saw my films programmed back-to-back on the big screen that I realized how much Catholic iconography and imagery has influenced my visual sensibility.   Moments in ‘Monster Mash’ serve as a way to directly address and move through this.

Albert: Which character’s point of view mostly resembles your own when it comes to the horror genre? Was he easier to write and why?

Mark: I think both characters express my opinions on the horror genre, but I identify more with the Carrie character.  Acknowledging the (homo)eroticism of boogeymen, drawing connections between horror and sexuality and openly identifying with the outcast/misfit (Carrie White) are things I share with him.  He speaks more explicitly with my voice so he was easier to write.

Albert: What is one costume you wanted a party goer to wear but didn’t make the final cut? What happened?

Mark: The Halloween party scene is a dream come true.  Everything I love comes together in a vibrant cult and horror mashup.  Igby Lizzard (Divine) and Judy Virago (Connie) are two talented and creative performers in Toronto that had previously thrown a John Waters themed party and were able to bring their own costumes to set.  I am lucky to have a supportive group of friends and family (that’s my mom making a cameo in the dumpster) that participated in the scene.  It might have been nice to incorporate more classic horror icons like Dracula, Frankenstein or the Wolfman, but I think we did well covering our bases and featuring some of my favourite cult and horror heroes/heroines.

 

Monster Mash is playing in Friends & Lovers Sunday, July 12 at 2pm at DGA2.

http://www.outfest.org/tixSYS/2015/xslguide/eventnote.php?notepg=1&EventNumber=0077

 

About the Programmer: Albert Payano is an aspiring TV writer from Dominican Republic based in Los Angeles. As part of the Outfest Los Angeles Young Filmmakers Program, OutSet, he wrote and produced the dramedy short After Jake, which has screened in more than a dozen film festivals worldwide. This is his second year serving as Assistant Programmer for Outfest Los Angeles and his fifth as volunteer.

 

MEET THE FILMMAKER | Catherine Stewart – “While You Weren’t Looking”

A conversation with Outfest Los Angeles Director of Programming Lucy Mukerjee-Brown and Catherine Stewart, the Director of While You Weren’t Looking, playing in Dramatic Competition at the 2015 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival.

Lucy Mukerjee-Brown: For those who haven’t seen the film yet, the dual storylines of While You Weren’t Looking follow a gorgeous lesbian couple in their 40s and their beautiful daughter who’s just turning 18 and exploring her sexuality with a charismatic androgynous stranger. Kudos to you Catherine, for showcasing two generations of women with equal balance, dignity and respect. Was it particularly important to you to create a movie that attracted an audience of all ages?

Catherine Stewart: Absolutely – we had one shot at this, and it was vital to share as many stories as we could. Also, from a historical perspective, it was to juxtapose the hard times of being queer in those days, with the relative ease of accepting one’s orientation that the youth experience today.  Although other issues are as tough today as previously, such as class divisions.

Lucy: The film’s South Africa location provides such a rich backdrop, bubbling with racial, political and class tensions, as well as showcasing a thriving LGBT community. Does that vibrant LGBT scene exist in your home town, or did you create a world on film that you wish you would see in your day to day life?

Catherine: We reflect a world that exists. Although obviously not equally or in the same way in every pocket of South Africa.  Cultures and communities are different in different cities and towns and villages and rural communities.  Cape Town has a wonderful cabaret group of mostly lesbians.  This cabaret group appears in our movie, a great bunch of women who perform regularly and create very stylish parties for LGBTQI communities every month. We no longer have a racist government and our constitution outlaws any discrimination based on sexual orientation, so that has opened up spaces for different lifestyles and removed obstacles legally.  For example there is no discrimination when people from the LGBTQI communities apply to adopt children.  However there is still the economic (opportunities for education and jobs) divisions that make it difficult for people to mix as easily as we would wish… It comes up in the film -where  transport is a huge issue, the lack of it stops people socialising in the city  when they live in the townships.

Lucy: You’ve worked a lot in television. Is this your first feature film and if so can you talk about that transition to the big screen?

Catherine: Yes. This is my first feature film.  And it was fantastic to make that transition. Working in television has given me a lot of experience working with actors and knowing how to manage a tough schedule.  And having had quite a bit of set experience gave me confidence to try things and go for what I wanted.   The challenge of a feature film is that you create a whole universe and characters and tell a whole story in 90 minutes, you don’t have lots of episodes to do it in.   That makes every scene so precious, every shot, the whole 90 minutes so precious. I wanted everything to be so perfect, because it isn’t an ongoing world, it is a brief glimpse and a singular telling of these character’s stories here and now. That was very exciting and inspiring and stimulating.  I loved it.  Oh, and of course, I really wanted the sex scenes to be sexy. Otherwise what’s the point? So that was important.

Lucy: What LGBT films/characters have really resonated with you throughout your life, and what were your influences and inspirations for creating this particular film?

Catherine: OIA, Out in Africa, who produced this film, has in 21 years screened over 1,500 features, shorts and documentaries – less than 10% were produced in Africa, or were about Africans, and of those 22 were short films engendered and produced by OIA. We wanted the world to see something of who we are, our progress and our “issues” as the first country in the world to include a clause in their constitution defending people’s right to alternative sexual orientations. Also, we knew we were coming to the end of our festival life and it seemed apposite that we should make a film about ourselves as a fabulous legacy. I don’t know why, but the film “Concussion” was one that I often thought of while directing our film. Perhaps because it was visually very specific, complex in its issues, and it wasn’t a classical genre, it wasn’t dealing with “coming out” or other classical narrative structures.  I also liked the way it engaged with many aspects of a female character’s life, marriage, family, children, sexuality and in a complex way. It also inspired me with its efficiency of dialogue, allowing one to watch characters be in their space and not interpret or judge.  I liked that quality about it and I think all those elements resonated with aspects of the style and the way we chose to tell the stories in our film.

Lucy: We can’t wait to see what you do next!  Do you have a script or an idea that you’re already exploring? And is there an LGBT storyline?

Catherine: I have two projects, two scripts, I’m looking for finance for.  One of them has an LGBT storyline, historical,  a love story about a woman who cross-dressed and lived as a man; the other is a sports competition movie with race and politics lenses.

While You Weren’t Looking is playing at 5pm on Saturday July 11th at the REDCAT.

http://www.outfest.org/tixSYS/2015/mobile/event-wap.php?EventNumber=0855&Range=VW

About the Programmer: In 2015, Lucy joined Outfest as their Director of Programming, after being involved in OutSet and the Screenwriting Lab for several years. She has previously programmed for QFilms, the Long Beach LGBTQ Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film Festival, and spent the past ten years producing 20+ feature films. Lucy is a two-time Film Independent fellow, as well as a member of BAFTA and the Producers Guild of America. Her latest film JACK OF THE RED HEARTS will hit theaters in 2016.