Finding a Family of Choice in my Career

July 12, 2018

 

 Headshot of Dylan Greenberg.

 

The holidays in New York City have never been a fun time for me. My favorite park, Union Square, is covered by ugly tents that sell overpriced tchotchkes to tourists and yuppies, (who are basically just tourists that live in the city forever.) At the supermarket I am forced to listen to bad covers of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and all of the movies playing in theaters are hastily made ensemble cast Christmas family flicks. (Granted, I can't usually afford the movies anyway, but I like having some cool posters to look at on the subway so I know what to pirate later!). The holidays are, statistically, the time of year most people are inclined to commit suicide... or at least that’s what I heard in "Gremlins". 

 

    Regardless, there is an aggressive emphasis on the spirit of "togetherness" imposed on the public. The reality is; that's not really something everyone has. Many people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and otherwise, especially youth, struggle with estrangement from their family members. 

 

    Coming from a Jewish family, some members of which are more traditional than others, I still am not out as a - (author takes deep breath) bisexual transgender woman with non-binary leanings - to many parts of the family and may never be. I have had to lose my usual long black skirt, leopard print coat and winged eyeliner in exchange for a button up shirt and trousers to assure there would not be conflict on some occasions. Granted, I enjoy wearing suits and trousers, but not when they are tailored to hide my curves and ass.

 

There are certainly some members of my family that, if they were to know, believe my identity is invalid or morally deceiving. There are also members of my family I AM out to that have strained their relationship with me by acting very unreasonable and cruel. I am lucky in that I do have a semblance of biological family, and while gatherings can get a bit awkward, I have not been disowned entirely, per see. Many of my friends have. 

 

    However, there is a great gift us misfits share that helps to subside the pain of being ostracized. We are almost constantly in production on new feature films under a production company I started several years ago called Disck Pictures. I founded the studio by accident, when I made a short film so long it ended up not being a short film, but a 70 minute feature. And I realized I needed to gather set up a website, and arrange for distribution, screenings and press. So far, we've produced four feature films: Glamarus, Wakers, Dark Prism, and Amtyville: Vanishing Point.

 

 The cast hard at work.

 

    We've become our own family of queer folks who collaborate and make these insane, no-budget projects together. During the holidays, when I and many of my friends have nowhere else to go, that can be something really special. Although there weren't many family gatherings for many of us to attend last December, we had a much bigger and more exciting gathering, which was the premiere of the film Dark Prism. This collaborative effort was incredibly successful and allowed me to incorporate many of my loved ones and other folks who feel left out of other spaces. 
 

   Sure, we may not have had physical presents to give each other, but we all shared one massive present; watching images of each other vomit and explode, flickering on a massive brick wall in a circus school. Instead of feasting on a delicious animal carcass around a table, us glitter-covered delinquents jammed into the car of my dear collaborator and producer, Wayne. (Wayne is the Han Solo of driving; he is extremely skilled, and will get you from point A to point B faster than a motherfucker, but he also has an admirable disdain for rules that makes every ride an experience.)

 

    I’ll never forget having both of my legs fully out of the window as I distributed my 175 pound weight across the laps of three of my friends, whispering to them, "I'm so sorry, and I love you." As contorted as my body was in that car, it was all worth it for the sharing of another glorious moment with my friends. I may have felt claustrophobic, but not being the weirdest person in the room (well, a room traveling close to 100 mph) while wearing a leopard print button up shirt with a purple bowtie and clown makeup on felt more freeing than Nicole Kidman must have felt when she divorced Tom Cruise.

 

 The cast at the premiere.

 

I'm excited for my next movie, The Heart of Re Animator. I'm going to be working with a lot of the same people and many new folks too. We have created our own family the right way; a family made up of friends, lovers, and co-conspirators. It is said blood is thicker than water, but no one ever said the blood can't be made out of corn syrup and food coloring! 

 

During production, two of my starring actors, Sofe Cote and Sara Kaiser, met and now share a wonderful and very gay relationship. Others have made beautiful and supportive friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime. As time passes, and we share more creative, insane and potentially illegal experiences together, I hope that the beautiful and creative people who join production will become part of our weird family as well. The knowledge that my family of choice exists and continues to grow makes my walk through the freezing, tent strewn Union Square and into the supermarket playing Christmas songs at top volume infinitely more bearable.

 

by Dylan Greenberg

 

Dylan Greenberg got an early foothold into the art world; by the time she was 15 she was performing in East Village clubs and dive bars, releasing a full length synth pop album as "Disck" and ending up with a photo spread in NY Times Magazine. When she was 17, she directed her first feature film "Glamarus', produced by veteran art film director and actor Scott Shaw. She followed this with her art-horror film Wakers and then almost immediately began production on another film called Dark Prism, which ended up generating massive press attention in Pitchfork, NME, Flavorwire, SPIN. and the AV Club. Greenberg's style has been compared to Andy Warhol's factory, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and David Lynch. She has worked with major figures in the entertainment industry such as Mac DeMarco, Matt Katz-Bohen, and Jacob Reynolds, underground art icons like Lloyd Kaufman, Reverend Jen, and Robert Prichard, and up and coming young people such as Sofe Cote, Blessing C.S., Sara Kaiser, Chandani Smith, and Max Husten. Critics have called the films of Greenberg everything from brilliant and nightmarish to awful and headache inducing. Regardless, Greenberg continues to be one of the most prolific young filmmakers and artists and has no plans of quitting anytime soon."

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