I love driven women who create their own content. And when that content is a thought provoking yet humorous look at a very real social issue? Even better. I was able to chat with producers Ally Iseman and Christine Moore about their short film Wedlocked, which explores the catch 22 that until recently prevented gay divorce. With a strong point of view and unique sense of humor, Wedlocked has been flourishing as it makes its way around the festival circuit. These women had so much to say about the issue, so I’ll let them speak for themselves:
Could you tell me a bit about Wedlocked? What compelled you to tell this story? How did it come about?
(Ally) Now an internationally award-winning film, Wedlocked was inspired by the true stories of a couple of director Puppett‘s friends concerning the lesser-recognized issue of gay divorce in the US prior to last year’s pivotal SCOTUS ruling. Thousands of people were legally trapped in marriages with no way out except to uproot their entire lives.
Our hope when we began this journey was to draw attention to this important issue, but in a fun and engaging way through comedy. To help lighten the mood we brought on writer Guinevere Turner, best known for penning the screenplay for the darkly comedic American Psycho. As we continued forward with our mission, people came out of the woodwork to offer their help. Both of our film’s starring actors found out about our project and reached out to us to request the opportunity to audition! Whitney Mixter, a leader within the LGBTQ* community from her stints on Showtime’s The Real L Word and Couples Therapy, plays Cameron, the love interest of our lead Sydney, played by the lovable and talented Shelli Boone.
We made a commitment with this project to hire predominantly female and/or LGBTQ* cast and crew. All of our production department heads were female, our cast is over 70% female, and many of our cast and crew are members of the LGBTQ* community.
Even more moving than the outpouring of support from within the film and entertainment industry, were the incredible social media messages we began to receive from all over the world. People trapped in same-sex wedlock were reaching out to us, thanking us for making this film. They had thought they were alone, trapped in the red tape of a broken system with no one to talk to; some were even near suicide. Not only did we make them feel like they had a voice, but we were also able to connect them with one another creating a network of support that stretched across state lines and economic barriers. Other women messaged us on Facebook and Twitter from countries where they cannot live openly with their partner for fear of being persecuted and killed for being gay. These people made us realize the importance of showcasing this issue that no one was talking about, their powerful responses serving as further proof of the deep need for representation of diverse stories in film.
Thankfully our film, which was originally intended as a funny social commentary meant to inspire change, has now become a historical comedy highlighting the folly of our (not so distant) past. We posed the question “Are You Married Enough?” and SCOTUS answered.
What was your favorite part of producing Wedlocked and why?
(Christine) There was a wonderful energy on set, and a lot of positivity from a cast and crew that was very excited about the material. We had some joyful, goofy moments with crew members doing headstands and yoga poses in the park. A highlight for us was working with an actual pig! One PA earned himself the nickname “The Pig Whisperer” because he was helping the handler carry the pig around my house, where we were shooting.
Speaking of my home, a proud moment for us was making the most of our budget for a short script with 9 locations in 11 minutes by transforming my house into 7 different locations! With the help of our production designer, art director, and their team, we converted the living room into a law office, the storage room into a vet’s office, the garage into a band’s den, and my bedroom into two completely different rooms on each side: a child’s pirate bedroom on one end, and an adult bedroom with a completely different style on the other! There are some great panoramic behind-the-scenes production shots in which you can see both sharing the same space.
What do you want people to come away with after watching Wedlocked?
(Ally) Our hope with sharing this film is that our viewers will realize that the media did not report the comprehensive story concerning marriage equality and that that understanding will encourage them to explore current and future issues themselves beyond the popular headlines.
Wedlocked is really doing well on the festival circuit. Why do you think this is a story so many people are responding to?
(Ally) It has been so interesting to see the varying reactions Wedlocked has been receiving at various festivals. Though they have all been positive in regards to story, production, acting, etc. there is a noticeable difference in the way the humor lands. There is much more of a response to our brand of humor at LGBTQ-specific or female-driven festivals than in the more mainstream venues. I believe this speaks to the need for representation of a wider degree of diversity in film so that we don’t find ourselves needing to section off into self-segregated niches in order to support films that we connect to.
To me, this is a prime example of the incredible power of storytelling to shape the world we live in. Well done, ladies! Thank you for giving a voice to so many who were voiceless.