In 1994, when Max Almy showed us Maya Deren’s “Meshes of the Afternoon” in her experimental film class at UCLA, I had already seen “Meshes” in another experimental class at Berkeley as an undergraduate. Since the first time I saw it, I have never forgotten how mysterious, surreal and emotional it is. So when we had to do a project in Max’s class, I knew I had to pay tribute to the masterpiece by making my own version about two gay vampires.
With both “Meshes” and Luis Buñuel’s “Un Chien Andalou” in mind, I wanted to make something about a young gay couple stuck in a stagnating relationship so I thought vampirism would be a good metaphor. And to frame their relationship somehow I saw this lonely drag queen who exists in a parallel universe. That was sort of the idea.
Nathan Adolfson shot the story of the couple on 16mm black and white film, and I shot the drag queen’s story with a Hi-8 camcorder. The video footage was transferred to 3/4″ for editing and then re-shot through a TV screen with an Auricon camera onto 16mm color film.
The reason I had to use the Auricon to shoot the TV screen was because it had an adjustable shutter so you wouldn’t get a black bar that you would get if you were using a regular film camera. UCLA had an Auricon camera but they lost the magazine that went with it. I remember I had to borrow the magazine from the film school of Loyola Marymount in order to use the camera.
I’ve never screened the short on its own because when I was making it I already knew I wanted it to be part of Flow in 2005. I was shooting “Key” the same time I was shooting the filmmker’s diary, the operatic glue around the short films.