Scene: Los Angeles

Scene 3: Outfest, Part 3
VIP Filmmaker Welcome Party Sponsored by here! Networks
The home of Stephen Macias, July 14

Stephen Macias of here! was kind (and brave?) enough to open up his home in Hollywood for the Outfest VIP Filmmaker Welcome Party, though he may have regretted it the next day. The gays were packed into his house like a clown car.

I met up there with my friend and "We’re Getting Nowhere" vlog partner Jill Bennett, who will be in the upcoming season of the here! gothic flesh-fest, Dante’s Cove. It’s fun to go places with Jill, because if she gets the rock star treatment, then I get it too. And let me assure you that the rock star treatment is not something to which most writers are accustomed (though I’m starting a campaign to change that).

Jenny Shimizu and Jill Bennett of Dante’s Cove

I gave my name at the door and walked through the front gate just as Jill was giving an interview to some TV reporter. She stood on smallest red carpet that I’ve ever seen, and I’m sure some humble production assistant spent a whole day trying trying to find it in various specialty stores across the city.

I watched for a few minutes and then went in to find AfterEllen.com contributing writer Dara Nai and her girlfriend, Brooke, inside. That may sound like a simple task, but with the number of bodies crammed into the place I was wishing I had a flare gun to signal my arrival.

The party was about 70 percent guys, which was kind of a bummer. It says something about the number of women filmmakers out there, or at least the number that end up participating in events like Outfest. There are definitely fewer of us than the boys. I’m hoping that there’s a more uplifting explanation for the disparity, like maybe that a lot of lesbians ditched the party in favor of a Pussycat Dolls performance.


But we made our own fun, and we met some new people too. One of them was Liz Feldman, a writer/producer for The Ellen DeGeneres Show. My First Time Driving, a comedic short written by Liz and directed by her sister, Rebecca, was featured at Outfest this year. The three of us spent some time trying to figure out which lesbians we knew in common, then Liz and Jill discussed the trials and tribulations of being poker sharks. I’m a lover, not a fighter, so I just stick with blackjack.

Later in the evening, I reconnected with a friend I haven’t seen in a couple of years, filmmaker Michelle Ehlen. Michelle was at Outfest with her feature film, Butch Jamie, which turned out to be a festival favorite. A few years ago Michelle made a couple of shorts for film school to which I generously contributed some really stilted, self-conscious acting.

When I read that she was starring in her film, I was surprised. The saying goes, "But what I really want to do is direct," not the other way around. When did she start acting? And did she suck as hard at it as I did?

She told me: "I enjoyed it. I know some people find it stressful to switch back and forth between the roles, but it doesn’t bother me. When I’m acting, I like working with myself as a director because I can give myself a carte blanche. One of the challenges I have as an actor is letting go of inhibitions; for me, if there’s no one judging my performance, it helps free me to take more risks. That way I can assess my performance in the editing process and assemble a scene accordingly, rather than hold myself back on set because I’m trying to meet someone’s expectations." 

A few days later, Michelle won the Outfest Award for Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film. Though she had spoken warmly of their working relationship, she did not thank her director.

At the end of the evening, we ran into Rebecca Sekulich, one of the producers of Angela Robinson’s genius web series, Girltrash. We made small talk, then Jill mercilessly harassed Rebecca about the fact that she wasn’t cast in Girltrash. Rebecca was able to come up with an excuse that Jill could live with, so then we called it a night.

On the way out, some weird straight (?) girl who had been eyeballing me all night yelled at me to "Chill out!" as I passed her in the hall. I was mortified. And confused.

I’m willing to take a scolding for being a wolf if I deserve it, but I hadn’t even done anything to earn this one! And she wasn’t even my type! So when I saw her outside by the valet, I told my friends about it, and we made sure to point and laugh.

Lesbian street justice.

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