Recently I discovered Ithaca writer, director and producer Becky Lane when I heard about a web series she was creating called The Chanticleer. I asked to see some teasers before she released it on YouTube. I was hooked and though I absolutely love the series, I want it to grow into a feature film. Becky has been in front of the camera as well as behind the camera. I truly believe that her film Hens and Chicks (2010) should be mandatory watching in every grade school sex education class. But, hey, you will love it also. Becky is busy raising funds her next film, The Road to Poughkeepsie, and hopes to bring series The Chanticleer to feature film.
JC: Becky, I love the character of Edie and with episode 3, the gender fluid Val the bartender in your new series. What was the draw to a 1950’s centered theme for The Chanticleer?
BL: I am so fascinated by that time period. I love the clothes, makeup, cars, music…I’m intrigued by the 50’s butch/femme subculture and the meanings within that. On a larger scale, I like exploring the tensions between post WWII conservatism, red scare paranoia, and the more open and progressive thinking that was beginning at that time. The 50’s brought us the budding Civil Rights movement and the first glimpses of LGBT rights awareness, and needless to say, there was a lot of pushback from conservatives. I am amazed to see the parallels today with issues such as gay marriage, police brutality and islamophobia. I mean, shouldn’t we be beyond this? Anyway, I created the characters Edie and Val as a tribute to the brave women of that time who chose to live their lives as they saw fit. People will find a way to live truthfully with dignity, humor and passion. I hope my characters reflect that.
JC: I know that The Road to Poughkeepsie is currently in the works and soon you will be turning to all of us film fans to help support it. Tell us about this film.
BL: I love this little film. I’m committed to filming it on a microbudget this fall as I continue to raise funds for The Chanticleer feature film. The Road to Poughkeepsie is a fun road trip movie inspired by “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” In my film, Alice is a writer trying to stop the sale of her newspaper to a national media holding company. She and her colleagues take a once bustling, but now crumbling highway to the annual newspaper conference to attend online ad sales training. Along the way, they have mishaps and adventures with characters resembling familiar personalities from the childrens’ story. Once they hit the conference, all heck breaks loose! It’s a look at modernization, nostalgia, dependence on technology, and inevitable change. And love is found, of course. And it’s a little odd in a very sweet and funny way. I am smiling as I write this! I can’t wait to get this one started, but I need to get my micro-budget acquired first. 😉
JC: Being a filmmaker is glamorous and lucrative. Okay, stop laughing. I know it is one tough business and especially for women and women making LGBT films. What drives your film making passions?
BL: Oh, this is a hard one. It’s so tough. Getting funding is hard. It’s a male-driven industry and women are always walking uphill. Aside from that, filmmaking as a whole is an exciting challenge on all levels! Writing, editing, making the thing, then getting it out there, all done from my little place here in Ithaca, NY. Fortunately, I have a couple of friends I work with to edit and shoot, and also to make the musical score. So these films really are a labor of love. But it’s something ‘I’m also trying to get a version of The Chanticleer made as a feature film because I am really committed to illuminating lesbian history and the authors of lesbian pulp fiction novels. It’s a great story, but has a larger budget and longer production cycle. So Poughkeepsie first, then The Chanticleer.
JC: Name three films and three directors who serve as your role models
BL: Hmm. I love Alexander Payne and his films Election, About Schmidt and Nebraska… maybe because we grew up in the same town (Omaha), and I love how he uses place and setting as an additional character in his films. I try to use my current hometown (Ithaca in upstate New York) in the same way. I will always have respect for Donna Deitch because she brought us Desert Hearts, a beautiful lesbian film (and fantastic period piece), in the middle of the Reagan era. I’m sure that was not an easy road to get that film made. Ditto for Kimberly Pierce’s work and general outlook on filmmaking. Boys Don’t Cry is such an important film. That’s more than three, but hopefully you’ll let me cheat. Thanks for including me in this series! Watch The Chanticleer on You Tube. I can’t wait for it to become a feature film.
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