Today, I'm sharing with you an interview with Lucas Omar, a recent University of Pittsburgh graduate who is creating a film about children and gender roles called "Show and Tell." In hopes that you will support the creation of this film through their Kickstarter page. The film is about a little boy named Ethan who wants to bring in his barbie doll, who he designs dresses for, in to show and tell at school. But his parents have mixed reactions and Ethan really wants to bring something in that will impress his parents, teacher and classmates. While this film deals with a lot of important LGBT/Gender issues that some children face today, it is also a light-hearted comedy.
I think that "Show and Tell" is an important film because most little girls who are tomboys like I was get lumped into a certain category of "what they'll grow up to be" and so do little boys who like to play with toys that are marketed to girls. Obviously, I grew up to be heterosexual, but these are adult judgements that should not be worrying little kids, which is what Lucas is getting to in his film. Here's my interview with him:
|Lucas Omar, director of Show and Tell, a short film about children and gender roles.|
I remember playing with Barbie dolls as a child and I never thought twice about it! I honestly just enjoyed combing their hair and changing their outfits. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. At such a young age, I wasn’t thinking about societal gender expectations and I had NO grasp of sexuality. Gender norms are still a prevalent issue today and I still find parents restricting what types of toys kids play with: trucks for boys, Barbies for girls. You can’t really blame the parents. This is largely due to marketing. When you walk around a toy store, there is a distinct divide between what’s pink and what’s not. Get caught in the wrong aisle and you’ll get some stares. I also want to stress that these toys are not precursors to whether a child is “gay” or “straight,” or “bi” or the many other gender definitions accepted in society today. We must allow kids to discover their interests on their own. Limiting this will only cause angst and a feeling of isolation.
Tell us about your creative process, from how you came up with the idea to how you picked your cast and crew and all the in betweens.The Story: Well the idea came out of my personal experiences as a child. I played with Barbies, makeup and dresses. Although I did turn out to be gay, I wasn’t thinking about those sexual connotations at the time. And guess what, I also loved recess, playing tag, and football! My interests were wide and vast. So taking the idea of a little boy who likes Barbies, I needed to find a way to raise the stakes: make him bring one into class to present in front of all of his classmates. With this comes the reactions of a gender divided community: an uncomfortable parent, bullies, and the pressure to present something as amazing as his best friend Michelle’s Huckleberry Marshmallow cupcakes. The bigger idea is that we shouldn’t define ourselves by one item or hobby. We are all complex and beautiful human beings. I didn’t want this to be some depressive PA announcement on the issue, but rather a fun and playful film that is both entertaining and informative.
You never know with these things, especially when I’m sending such a strong message. I feel like people may read into the LGBT themes and just assume that Ethan will be “gay” when he is older. I’m trying my best to prevent that response. Throughout the film, we see him doing Yoga and even playing poker! I wanted to give him a range of activities that were not gender specific.
As a filmmaker, I’ve learned to never be worried about negative feedback, but expect it and be prepared. I’m not saying “no” to anything, but rather “yes” to everything kids want to be!
I hope people realize that this is a film about acceptance and allowing kids to express their creativity, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. Adolescence is such a crucial time for social development. What we say or do may leave an impression on them for the rest of their lives. I think Federico Fellini said it best: “You have to live spherically - in many directions. Never lose your childish enthusiasm - and things will come your way.”
|Left: Michael Berthold, playing lead role, Ethan | Right: Kennedy Mason, playing Ethan's best friend, Michelle|
It’s funny how mature and professional child actors can be. I feel like once they read it through, this look of utter understanding flashed over their faces. There was never any resistance to any of the themes, and with a little bit of background information on each of the characters, they understood the characters’ needs and wants. Michael is still getting used to having a Barbie doll as a best friend. Over the next few weeks, I’m encouraging him to play with Barbies and even carry it around! I’m hoping he can understand why many kids find Barbies fun. And since this is likely his first experience doing so, he may find out he likes them!
Anything else you'd like to add...Okay, so why the heck do we need a Kickstarter? Just for some perspective, the average mainstream movie today costs about $60 million. Averaging 100 minutes a picture, that’s about $600,000 a minute. Wow. I don’t think I’ve even seen that number written on a piece of paper. We’re trying to raise just over $3,000 for a 15 minute film: just over $200 a minute. We believe that we can make an extremely professional film with these numbers WITHOUT RAKING IN PROFITS. This budget will cover food (which is HUGE when you’re feeding up to 50 people a day!), crew, locations and props.
So if you believe in this cause and would like to help this film come together,
please visit Show and Tell's Kickstarter and Facebook pages to see how you can!
This is a partnered post but all opinions are my own.
This is a partnered post but all opinions are my own.