"The filming and production of this documentary proved time and time again to be an emotionally taxing process."
The filming and production of this documentary proved time and time again to be an emotionally taxing process. At the age of 32, I am only a few years older than Nathan, the protagonist of the film. Although I am heterosexual myself, in my personal life I have witnessed the challenge many people in the LGBTQ community face when coming out or attempting to live ordinary lives outside of the proverbial “closet.” Bigotry—both explicit and implicit—is a very real thing for many people living in less than progressive social circles. Seeing a man similar in age to me struggle with his sexual orientation, as well as his identity in general, was a struggle to witness. No individual in modern times should ever feel the need to hide or change their sexual identity. But unfortunately, and quite tragically, there are many communities in America and across the globe where intolerance is pervasive. In this film, I was exposed to such communities.
"No individual in modern times should ever feel the need to hide or change their sexual identity."
I knew from the outset that access was going to be the most important element to producing this story. I didn’t want to make a film that was a presentation of facts (something that relied on talking head interviews and an authoritative voice-over narration); I wanted to tell a personal story of an individual’s journey through this therapy. Instead of an expose or advocacy-based documentary, I preferred to tackle the story with an observational, fly-on-the-wall approach. I wanted access to the therapy sessions and to the personal life of the protagonist. In order to garner such access, I knew I had to strip myself, as best I could, of bias and approach the film as objectively and curiously as possible.
With all this said, biting my tongue was difficult at times. In many situations, and specifically when things started to get emotionally dark for Nathan, I just wanted to give him a hug and tell him that everything was going to be alright. I wanted to recommend that he move out of rural Virginia, and into a city like New York or Washington D.C., where there is more diversity and a bigger support system for the LGBTQ community. But as a documentary filmmaker employing the observational technique, this was not my role. So I remained observant, and strictly so, in hopes that it would result in the creation of a powerful, thought-provoking film.