When I was handed a script for a film about a wannabe teenage drag queen set in Blackpool, 1997, I thought, where do I begin? It was a great script, but it raised some questions. The filming part I was fine with, as I have produced and directed commercials and short films since 2010. The coastal location was fine due to spending weekends there with my parents as I grew up. And the period that the story takes place in was fine as I was at secondary school during this era. However, drag queens?
For more information on Seaquins, please check out our Kickstarter page: http://kck.st/2fRtG42
The writer, Amy Clarke, started my dragucation where most people's begin, with binge watching RuPaul's Drag Race. We watched all nine seasons and the behind the scenes Untucked episodes. This was just the beginning...
What I started to realise as I watched, was the sheer effort and commitment needed by the queens, not to mention the financial investment. It is a true art form, requiring art skills, design, dance, acting, sewing and writing.
The first part of pre-production went incredibly and remarkably (ask anyone who has ever made a short film) well, with support from the Blackpool Council Film Office, Blackpool and the Fylde College, Phoenix Music International (in negotiating the rights to 'Female of the Species') and an insanely talented crew boarding the project (including Cinematographer Catherine Goldschmidt).
We've been working with drag artist Veronica Green (who is also an incredibly talented actor by the name of Kevin Grogan) not only on the script, but also with regards to performance. Obviously we won't be showing every single detail of the drag process in the final film, but it would kill me to have a drag queen or fan watch and be taken out of the experience by something not ringing as genuine.
We got to a stage where we realised to pay for the five day shoot and everything it entailed we would have to crowdfund. My journey through drag had already put me in heels but for our Kickstarter, we decided to spice up the director's and writer's pitch by doing it in half drag. I admit that I called up make-up wizard Sian Revill to achieve this, as I could only imagine the horror of what would happen if I attempted it myself.
On the strength of the script and some early visuals (moodboard, treatment etc), Mat Turner at Shooting People referred us directly to Kickstarter, where Elise McCave, Director of Narrative Film, was kind enough to give her thoughts and feedback on our page and pitch video. The finished page and film can be viewed here: http://kck.st/2fRtG42
We wanted fans of drag to be part of our film and its journey, so we started the perks at £1, with the idea that if we could reach and engage the wider drag community, people just like us who love the queens and attend events/ shows could join our team getting this made. Obviously we would not turn down bigger donations (and you get better rewards for doing so), but we just love the idea of being funded by a collective of likeminded individuals. This is our audience, and we want to reach out to them at base level so they can be a part of the journey from page to screen.
Through preparing this film, what has hit me is the open, welcoming and kind nature of the community. We have been met warmly for every discussion of our project. As Veronica Green competed through the rounds of Not Another Drag Competition (making the final!!) at Her Upstairs in Camden, we were allowed to publicise our campaign and film by the bar owners (including the fabulous drag queen, Meth).
I started this journey as a mild mannered filmmaker and feel through making Seaquins I will be ending it as a hardcore drag fan.