Inlaws & Outlaws

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On Making Inlaws & Outlaws

"A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose" — Gertrude Stein

The central belief to all my work is that story is transformative. And in an age where we are being continually spun and manipulated and marketed to within an inch of our lives, the true story has an unassailable appeal. Authenticity is increasingly being sought out by audiences - and they know it when they see it. They recognize the truth and, best of all, they see themselves in it.

With this in mind, when we began this film, we set out to capture true stories that were compelling, quirky, heartbreaking and thoroughly inspired. We wanted a film that spoke to everyone, so we did: gay, straight, married, single, divorced, widowed, young and old - you name it, we got them to tell their story. And while we had every faith that we would find a mother lode of comic, suspenseful, engrossing and thoroughly entertaining material, we set out with a larger purpose in mind: we wanted to debunk the lie that love - and the pursuit of it - is something that divides us, rather than the essential human characteristic that connects us, no matter how hard we try to deny it. Whether or not we have it, we all relate to love.

The timing for a film about love and marriage just happened to be perfect; on the news, in the op-ed pages and in the halls of Congress, opinion leaders have been having a lively discussion on so-called "gay marriage." Depending on your point of view, it's either a debate about morality, civil rights or both.

Meanwhile, in living rooms and by water coolers, over dinner and on long-distance calls to family and friends, ordinary folks have been having a conversation about relationships. Depending on your point of view, it's either a dialogue about love or life or both.

While scores of documentarians and TV crews have been capturing the daily developments on the courthouse steps, in legislatures and at the offices of wedding planners, I felt it was important to set aside all the public chatter about what comes next and look at the stories behind the headlines, the lives we're already living The politics may be fascinating, but who's telling the story of the relationships gay people have always had?

Who's capturing the story of folks who survived the closet, the naked oppression of a homophobic society and somehow flourished in lasting partnerships of love?

Not everyone's story has a happy ending. Who's telling the story of those that buckled under enormous pressure and succumbed to traditional heterosexual marriages when everything inside them told them that this was not for them?

And who's telling the story of straight folks whose relationships are not threatened by those of others? People who have wrestled with society's narrow view of what marriage should be? And those that have had successful partnerships without the imprimatur of a traditional marriage?

The TV pundits are talking about marriage as if it were a single fixed entity, an iron-clad institution that has been agreed upon long ago and frozen in amber ever since. And they speak of same-sex couples at the forefront of the debate as if they were infants in the art of relationships rather than the same blend of battle-weary, confused, starry- eyed, frustrated, hopeful, wary, and oblivious romantics as the rest of society.

But despite the fact that our culture has finally found a way to acknowledge certain aspects of gay as lesbian life -- we can be fun and fabulous and we can be victims or heroes -- the mainstream is only now beginning to come to terms with the idea that we love. Moreover, the not-so-dirty secret is that modern life and it's rapidly changing pace sets many of the same challenges and opportunities for gay folks as it does for straights. Some of us have taken our traditional institutions at face value, others have adapted them to suit their purposes-and the rest of us are making it up as we go along.

Despite all the angst and denial and moral discomfiture, the pursuit of the essential truths at the heart of marriage wasn't rocket science. What matters here has been hiding in plain sight. And that is exactly where the gay experience intersects with that of straight folks: We love. We lose. We desire. We regret. We all want to belong. It's our common humanity - too often ignored or taken for granted.

So, we figured that with a lot of honesty, a healthy dose of humor and a dash of alchemy, we could take the stuff that's fueled countless tragedies, romances and comedies, and shed a bit of light on what is, what has been, and what can be. That is, if we take the time to listen.


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