Re: Stock Replies to Stock Media: In and Out

July 27, 2021

Re: Stock Replies to Stock Media: In and Out

Article image

An interview series with LGBTQIA+ filmmakers & Re: Stock contributors

Re: Stock contributor and founder of the Transgender Film Center Sav Rodgers discusses his Storyblocks collection In and Out.

What inspired you to get into filmmaking?

I wanted to become a filmmaker when I saw Chasing Amy for the first time, a film by Kevin Smith that’s a romantic comedy about a straight guy falling in love with a lesbian. That movie was so groundbreaking for me in terms of what I saw as really great LGBTQIA+ representation. These characters are funny, they’re the smartest people in any room, and they were portrayed as human beings in a time where gay characters were essentially viewed as a “sassy sidekick” or something like that.

If you look at the four principal roles in that movie, arguably three of them are queer. When I saw that movie, I saw a future for myself.In some ways, I saw myself through the characters. This moment totally changed my worldview in terms of sexuality and helped me figure out who I was. I was so inspired by the script that it made me think that I could do this professionally. And, now here I am doing it!

What does representation mean to you? And why does representation matter in storytelling and media?

Representation is authenticity in storytelling. I think that good representation comes in a lot of forms, but I do think a big factor in that is marginalized communities telling their own stories and adding their own experiences to the mix. You can have LGBTQIA+ stories without the participation of our community. In that case, it doesn’t really ring as authentic. You’re missing the nuance, you’re missing the honesty, and you’re missing the life experiences.

I’ve taken it a step further by ensuring that representation (particularly for trans people) is super authentic. I founded a non-profit called the Transgender Film Center where we support trans-made films and try to connect them with audiences around the world. We try to provide grant money, artist support, and things that ensure that trans people feel supported as they’re producing and directing independent films. We even support the release of larger films made by trans people.

Representation matters so much, because it’s how you can see yourself. It’s how you know that you exist. When I saw Chasing Amy at age 12, I knew that I existed and that all of the things that I was feeling were valid. I knew that my feelings were more than a phase, and that they weren’t bad feelings! When you feel your identity validated, or part of your identity validated by the outside world, you begin to understand that at the end of the day, you’re going to be okay.

Where do you believe the stock media industry currently lies in regards to representation?

I think that the stock media industry has a long way to go in terms of finding equity among their various media types including footage, audio and photos. When you’re searching with stock media as a Video Editor, Producer, or Writer, it’s really hard to find great footage of marginalized communities. In my experience, even just having to edit trans pride videos, it’s really hard to find photos and videos of LGBTQIA+ people in everyday situations. This is why we made our In and Out collection for Re: Stock. We wanted to depict what everyday experiences look like for folks that are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Even if these things seem mundane and boring to the average person, it’s a really important topical area to have within stock media. There’s a total absence of this content in existence, so we wanted to be part of the effort that is changing that.

If you’re not white, cisgendered, or straight, it can be hard to find representation for your community in these various stock elements. Even in movies, you have background actors, and these folks for a long time were overwhelmingly white, straight, cisgendered and male. These small nuances really matter, and help a historically excluded individual feel seen. When you’re looking for stock footage for your video or website, it’s really valuable to ensure that you’re incorporating and representing historically excluded communities. This requires that companies take a stand in prioritizing bringing these voices to the table.

What excited you about this partnership with Storyblocks and why did you want to participate?

I was stoked when Storyblocks asked me to be a part of this work. The opportunity to tell a story anytime is exciting for me, but having the opportunity to pursue a medium that I’ve never pursued before (that being stock footage) was really fun. I’m mostly a narrative and documentary guy, so this was a really fun creative challenge. This project posed a super interesting question for me. That question was, “What is authenticity in stock footage? What does that look like?” I searched for myself to see if I could find the footage that I was interested in shooting. I couldn’t! It was really exciting to be able to go out with my team and shoot this with our community. I really enjoyed participating in the work.

What is the theme behind your collection and what inspired the story behind it?

The theme of my collection is In and Out. It’s a collection all about the day in the life of a queer person. In this instance, it’s a black, queer woman. We wanted to show what an average day looks like. For a lot of people who don’t think they know LGBTQIA+ people, they wonder what life’s like. Truthfully, the answer is that it’s pretty normal. The things that make our life difficult is what other people do to try to marginalize us further. For the most part, it’s the everyday things that we’re thinking of. We go to work. We have our morning coffee. We go see a movie with our romantic partner. These things are normal, but you can’t find the footage anywhere. We were really excited to have the opportunity to show a queer couple going to the movies, holding hands, and showing affection. This was a truly rewarding experience.

How do you ensure that the content that you create reflects and represents our world?

As a queer trans guy, I like to think that I know what good representation for my community looks like. However, I’m also a white dude, so you have to be intersectional and intentional about who you bring to the table. I was excited to pursue a collection about two black queer women. Bringing folks on as cast that have the lived experiences of what I’m trying to represent as a Director really informs the process. I was able to bring on our wonderfully talented Director of Photography, Bradley Garrison, to shoot two black queer women on screen. There’s a lot going on in the world right now where we’re talking about white photographers and Directors of Photography not knowing how to shoot black skin. So, it’s really important to bring people with these authentic experiences to the table. All in all, I just try to be myself throughout the process.

You can check out Sav’s Re: Stock collection, In and Out at the link below.

Check Out The In and Out Collection

Sav Rodgers

Filmmaker & Founder of the Transgender Film Center

Sav Rodgers is a filmmaker and writer originally from Kansas City. Creatively, Sav's work typically centers on the queer experience through a comedic or personal lens. He is the director of CHASING CHASING AMY, a feature documentary about the controversial reputation of Chasing Amy (1997) among the LGBTQ+ community and the profound, lasting impression on his own life. Sav also delivered a TED Talk on the subject titled, “The rom-com that saved my life.” In addition to his work as a director/writer, Sav is also the Founder and Executive Director of the Transgender Film Center, a nonprofit aiming to help trans creators bring finished films to audiences around the world.