Filmmakers Wilson Williams and Megan Hillyer, students at Savannah College of Art & Design, want to put a new twist on a gay popular subject: drag. But they need your help to make it happen.
Their upcoming project, “Tuck’d,” is what they describe as a cross between the “fierceness of 'RuPaul’s Drag Race,' the lovable campiness of 'Glee' and the intensity of '8 Mile.'” It tells the story of three seasoned drag queens who return to their alma mater for their 15-year college reunion, and three up-and-coming drag queens who learn some lessons from their older counterparts.
Here’s the catch: they need your help to make their film. Wilson and Megan created a Kickstarter campaign to help raise $6,500 to do it. We spoke with the Savannah-based SCAD students about “Tuck’d,” its queens, their Kickstarter and more.
How did you come up with 'Tuck’d?'
Wilson Williams (second photo): “Tuck’d” was written by myself after a group of friends visited a local liberal arts college here in Savannah. “Tuck’d” originally didn’t start anything like what it is now. It originally never included musical numbers, drag queens or anything like what we have now. It originally just told the story of a group of friends that visited a local college and couldn’t stand how “normal” it was. It then turned into a story about a 150-year rivalry between a local art college and liberal art college. After that, “Tuck’d” finally become a thing with the inclusion of the musical numbers and drag queens. Megan came into the picture due to the fact that I’ve always wanted to work with her. She is one of my closest friends here at SCAD and a rather talented artist.
Why this particular project?
Williams: Megan and I decided that “Tuck’d” was the project for us due to the subject matter and where we both are in life. Megan and I both are graduating this spring and we are really in a place of retrospective and curiosity. We’re entering a world that believes that tolerance is better than acceptance and that standing down is better than speaking up. “Tuck’d” gets behind the fabulous costumes and pure shade, deals a lot with our demons and fears about growing up.
What are some of the challenges in making this film?
Williams: I honestly believe that the biggest issue that we face is people not taking us seriously. Many people believe that due to us being students we’re not taking our craft seriously. What people don’t see is that student filmmakers, lets just say student artists, take their craft to a whole new level of serious. We obsess and constantly worry about the final result of our pieces. We want you to see and support our films not only for our career but we want the feedback. We want to be better filmmakers, we want critiques on how things could be better.
Megan Hillyer (bottom photo): Another challenge we haven’t had to deal with very much yet is the intolerant and hateful, with all due respect, group of people such as the homophobes. I think that could be a really big hurdle we’ll have to jump in the future since we want to bring this into the mainstream.
Williams: Another challenge I believe we will face is the idea of masculinity and femininity and how hard the line is drawn in society. When in all reality, it’s a bunch of tints and shade of grey. The idea of drag is female impersonation and that is something that we touch on in the film.
What led you to go with Kickstarter for funding?
Williams: Kickstarter is a very well known crowdfunding site and SCAD even has a page for active student and alumni projects. We spent quite some time debating whether to use Kickstarter or Indiegogo and weighed all the pros and cons. We found that more student projects were successful on Kickstarter so that is what finally helped us settle on Kickstarter.
Hillyer: I have backed projects on both Kickstarter (“Lovely: Girls of Animation,” “Bee and Puppycat,” “AxentWear” and “Doodlequest”) and Indiegogo (“21 Draw,” “A Redtail’s Dream” and “Stand Still. Stay Silent.”). I found that Kickstarter seemed to be more of a domestic crowdfunding site while Indiegogo reached out more to the international market so that helped narrow it down based on the audience we wanted to reach.
What is the Kickstarter campaign funding that wouldn't otherwise be possible?
Williams: Honestly, the film. We fall into the trap of most independent films. Everybody hears the concept, meets our amazing cast and crew and can’t wait to see the finished product. Everybody wants to join the process, but nobody wants to contribute. The answer is we need $6,500 to make this film. This is a very trimmed down budget. This budget will allows us to make a film that we are truly proud of. Honestly, I want to look at “Tuck’d” after I’m successful and see a film that I am truly proud of. Our budget covers productions needs, wardrobe, hair and makeup, transportation for our talent and etc. I am the only one benefiting from the production of “Tuck’d” due to it being my senior project. I have a crew of 60 extremely talented artists that are donating their time to complete a film they love just as much as I do. There is no way around it, if we don’t get this film funded. There will be another lost LGBT film due to lack of support.
Hillyer: The film. As students we do get some assistance from the school albeit not in the financial department of the process. We can rent cameras and other film equipment from the school but costumes, food, printing promotional materials, set design needs and other things of that sort have to come out of our pockets. Students and talent volunteer their time for no monetary compensation or school credit to help with the creation of the film, which seriously cuts the cost but some financial needs are unavoidable. As students we can contribute as much of our own money as possible but neither of us has $6,500 to throw at the film alone. I started spending my own money buying promotional material to get the word out long before the Kickstarter was even launched. We are doing our best to take on as much of the cost on our own.
If your Kickstarter surpasses its goal, do you have plans for the surplus?
Williams: If our Kickstarter surpasses its goal, we have a few plans for the surplus funds. Our plans include donating some of the funds to a charity that focuses on the LGBT community and hopefully starting production a web series that follows the events that happen after the short film.
What drag queens or other performers are involved in this project?
Williams: We have so many talented performers involved in this project. We have Chi Chi Bonet Sherrington (top photo), the current reigning Miss Savannah Pride, who performs at Club One and is a graphic designer. We also have Tricksie Turner, Miss Savannah Pride for 2013, who also performs at Club One and recently got into drag after nearly losing his life. We have Jordan Sophia Alexander, the pop princess at Club One, a shy queen and our most recent addition. We also have LaZanya Ontre, who is a member of Savannah’s House of Gunt and a fellow SCAD student. Lastly we have our own drag baby, Joseph Lee, who has never been in drag before and is a graduate performing arts major at SCAD. There may even be a few exciting surprise cameos by well-known performers within the LGBT community! We’ll wait to share that though as we finalize those details. Either way, we’re very excited to be working with everyone!