By Berto Fernández
Andrew Vallentine, director of The Mattachine Family, one of the most anticipated features of the festival explained why this film has such a deep connection to him, and not only because his husband is the writer. “Danny, my husband, wrote the movie about our journey to becoming parents. We were looking for our first feature film to tell a personal story, something that’s new, and it hadn’t been out there before. So, we took our personal fights, and drama that we had had, and put it in a movie. The Mattachine Family is a movie that follows a Gay couple in their journey to fatherhood, which very much nears our life”, explains Vallentine, who makes his feature film directorial debut with the piece. He also believes that there is a limited amount of themes that LGBTQ movies have been able to address in the past. For him, this movie goes past the common self-identity and discovery plot and brings a relatability to the film that non-LGBTQ audiences will be able to connect with as well. “I want to see more stories about our community, as opposed to our challenging past”, he said.
“Another theme that is very present in the community is chosen family and what it means to us,” he added. When asked to come up with some words to describe the movie, Vallentine chose parenthood, chosen family, and “dramedy” (a mashup of comedy and drama).
Independent filmmaking is no stranger to challenges. Budget, location, casting, are just some of the elements that production teams must juggle when diving into this venture. “It’s a bit easier when you’re a big fish, and you have your bank account to throw money at your problems, and we didn’t have that, so we had to be very strategic and smart about everything.”, explained Vallentine, who recalls that in order to film at a major airport like LAX, they had a very small window of time to get all the shots needed on top of the regular permits required.
The Mattachine Family is an independent film with executive producer Zack Braff, known for starring in the hit TV show Scrubs, Scot Boland, casting director, and Mike Diaz in the producer seat. They are some of the non-LGBTQ members of the production that Vallentine talks about, and how the movie connects with them regardless of sexual identity. “These are straight people who are able to recognize and see themselves in Thomas and his journey to wanting to be a father”, he mentioned.
He encourages up and coming LGBTQ filmmakers to get out and make content since it has never been easier to use resources like mobile devices, with phenomenal capacity to capture real life stories quickly and effectively. He mentions that there is a science when it comes to producing long-form content, versus short-form (mostly for online purposes), but that the learning process should continue to happen throughout the creative process of the artist.
Do not miss The Mattachine Family, starring Nico Tortorella (Younger, Walking Dead, World Beyond), Juan Pablo Di Pace (Fuller House, Mamma Mia!), and Emily Hampshire (Schitt’s Creek) to be screened on Friday, September 8th at 7pm as part of the festival.