I've had a lot of comments since I started this campaign to bring The Quantum Terror to life. Two of them stand out in my mind, and I feel are important for me to address.
The first one was from a Facebook commenter who said something like, "I was into the trailer until I saw the girls kissing." I don't think they were actively offended by it, but may have had some concerns that the movie was just going to be gratuitous in an exploitation kind of way. While I freely admit to wanting to make a movie that is as sexy as it is scary, it's also very important to me that there isn't anything in the film that doesn't need to be there. The Quantum Terror is a love story between two women that is interrupted by not only the horrors that come with alien creatures, but the perceptions of others on the outside looking in. These preconceived notions come from everywhere and at everyone who is trying to be true to themselves, their feelings, and sense of place in the world. After all, quantum physics is partly to do with the influence of observation. (...as explained in this video, if you want to know more on that.)
Indeed, whether we like it or not, our daily lives are greatly influenced by how others perceive and interact with us. Regardless of our skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or age, each and every person is experiencing life from their own individual point of view, yet we still have to contend with how others perpetuate the stereotypes that come with our commonalities. Celebrities and media will over inflate them, encouraging others to embrace these stereotypes as culture or life style, when they are neither. They are simply pigeonholes meant to keep people thinking of themselves and others as part of the masses, rather than taking ownership of ones own individual identity. The result is often segregation through the illusion of pride or heritage. Heritage and traditions can help us learn about where we came from and where we're going, but unfortunately are also often used to draw lines between us and our fellows. Before you know it, people are using them to justify bullying through bigotry. These stereotypes influence those who would rather generalize than address each person they meet as a unique human being, who may have their own thoughts and feelings, their own hopes, problems, fears, or loves outside of what any group which has been automatically designated to them by a roll of the cosmic dice. We seem to live in a world where daring to step outside of that has become socially unacceptable on any side of these lines. I feel that could be damaging to anyone's psyche, especially of today's young people, who don't seem to have any frame of reference to ground themselves in.*
My intention in creating a lesbian protagonist was to take the stereotype and strip it from the character, so you would see the human being underneath, which we all have in common. In doing so, I felt that I could be free to take an objective look at these characters as I wrote them and free them from the box others might want to put them in, even if I am a heterosexual male. Was I successful? I asked our leading actress Kristen Cochell (IMDB) what she thought, and this is the reply she sent me.
"I fell in love with my character in The Quantum Terror, Sam, shortly after reading the script. Sam is unlike a lot of heroin/leading roles we see in the cinema currently, which is what attracted me so much to her. In this movie we have one of the first Lesbian heroines. A gay hero? It's unheard of, which is one of the reasons I wanted to play her. Another reason Sam's character spoke to me is because main female characters have always been undermined by covering their emotions on film. God forbid we show a main character in an emotional light, right? Don't get me wrong Sam is very strong, sort of like Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, but she's also very fragile at moments, which makes her human. Sam's character has been a turning point for my career. The internal struggle between fighting to find her sister, fighting back her feelings for Lucy, fighting aliens and quantum physics, it's been a truly challenging role that I could not be more grateful to tackle. The Quantum Terror is not just about making a lesbian love story, but raising and changing standards in the film industry."
Which brings me to...
The second comment I received was from another actress who auditioned for the lead. Her's was something to the effect of, "Even if you don't cast me, I just want to say thank you for creating a part like this in your film. It means so much to me and to other women, especially in Austin, that a filmmaker would chose to have a female lead like this one." I confess, I was much taken aback at being told this. I've always been a fan of science fiction and horror, and in my mind all the great films had a woman at the forefront. Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in Alien and Linda Hamilton's Sarah Conner in Terminator stand out the most, but movies like Hellraiser, Nightmare On Elm Street, Rosemary's Baby, and Halloween all centered around a well written heroine. It seemed only natural to me to do the same. That's not to say that the decision was entirely accidental. I had decided that I didn't want to center my theme around a person's race or spiritual beliefs, because not only could that become unintentionally polarizing, but I feared that not everyone would be able to automatically relate. On the other hand a homosexual person can come from any walk of life. It truly seemed to be the only way to go. I hate to say it, but in this day and age I realize that this is still going to be a hard sell. It would be an even harder one if the romance was between two men. I feel that two women may be a little easier for male moviegoers to handle.
I realize I still run the risk of garnering criticism and perhaps even malice from our potential audience, but it is my hope that people don't come at this movie thinking I'm going out of my way to make some sort of progressive statement. I'm really not. This movie is ultimately about tentacled horrors from another dimension whose very existence will bring people to the brink of metaphysical madness. All this other stuff about individuality, having the freedom to chose, and being true to yourself is just subtext to make the movie more engaging for everyone, including myself. Or, is it? When you see it, you can decide what to take away from it on your own.
Hey, by the way, we'd actually love to have you as part of the fun, so why not head on over to our Indiegogo page (click right here http://igg.me/at/quantumterror) watch the trailer, and pick up a pledge reward.
*Next up: How Lovecraftian cosmic horror and quantum physics apply as a metaphor for our media driven society!