photo: Ky Dickens
Discussing religion is hard enough, but throw in homosexuality and you've got yourself a double whammy. But in Ky Dickens' forthcoming film "Fish Out of Water," which has been in the making for more than a year and a half, the ambitious filmmaker takes on both at once. I chatted her up about the film, the upcoming fundraiser and Andersonville, the neighborhood that she calls both home and the best place in Chicago.
What's "Fish Out of Water" about?
Fish Out of Water is a documentary that looks at the impact of homosexuality and religion on America, and how that impacts GLBT folks. We're talking about why it's been so pervasive in our communities, why it's become such an issue. We're also taking a deep look at how certain messages get pumped through the pulpit and special interest groups in Washington DC.
We are also breaking into a new genre called "ani-doc," or animated documentary. We chose to do this because I was very concerned with not having a narrator or a voice—not making it a Michael Moore-type film—because that automatically pins a gender or a sexual orientation or a race perspective to the project. So we have an animated character who takes you through the entire film, through the documentary footage as well as all the stock photography, and loops everything together. It's a risky thing to do but it's the only accessible way to keep the information exciting. There's actual video footage in the film, but a good chunk of it is animated. We want to keep something like this, which is a dense and serious issue, fun and light and accessible. And this is a big challenge because when you mention homosexuality and religion, people usually have a knee-jerk reaction. It's something people don't want to talk about; there's a real stigma attached to it. And gay people never want to talk about it. And a lot of Americans don't want to talk about gay people. So by animating it and having a cute bird take us through the whole film, and animating the biblical stories and stuff, it makes the issues more accessible and entertaining while still dealing with deep, compelling issues.
How long have you been working on the film?
It started in March 2007, so it's been about a year and a half. All production and animation are complete. Right now we have a rough edit done. We gotta get the audio mixed, the footage color corrected, the soundtrack laid and some other pricey post-work completed. Our goal is to have everything done by December and then start entering festivals. We'd love to get to theaters, but more than anything I want the film to be shown at gay community centers and churches, places where people really struggle with these issues. Or where politicians can [see it]; they know how to talk about it, have it enter into conversation.
Tell me about the fundraiser and post-party.
We're going to have a fundraiser on Saturday, October 11 from 6–8:30 p.m. at Mary's Attic, located at Clark and Balmoral Avenues, in Andersonville.
We're going to have complimentary food and drinks. And we're going to show a 30-minute preview so people can get a better grasp of what the film looks like and then a talkback about the film. I want to guide the encouragement of the gay community in this film. And because this has been going on for a year-and-a-half, I want to give people a preview of why this is so revolutionary—and show them the idea of the "Ani-doc." Miki Greenberg will be doing his cabaret-style piano set. His music is whimsical and a nice compliment audio-wise to what we are doing visually.
One thing that's frustrating to the staff of "Fish Out of Water," including myself, is that it's hard to get support through fundraisers since tickets to some events run $150–$200. So we tried to make this the type of thing people can rally around. So our tickets are $50, and we think that will bring in a lot of people to see the film preview. For those who can't afford the cost but still want to participate, we're doing post-party for $5/ticket. Erik Roldan from Think Pink Radio, who has recently started his own podcast at ThinkPinkRadio.com, and has a cult following as a DJ and radio talk show host—his DJ name is DJ StinkyPinky—will be DJing the post-party starting at 9 p.m., so that's a way for people to support who can't afford the $50. There will also be a raffle. All tickets will be sold at the door.
And if you can't make the fundraiser, support the film by donating via the website.