Interview: Steve Brown
Marking his twelfth feature length film, filmmaker Jamie Patterson decided to take a look at the world of drag queens and drag culture in the new film Tucked.
The film follows Jackie - played beautifully by Derren Nesbitt - who discovers he has terminal cancer and has seven weeks left to life, after poetically singer Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive' surrounded by adoring fans.
The veteran drag queen then befriends younger queen Faith (Jordan Stephens) who helps Jackie rekindle his relationship with his daughter before his evitable death.
Although the description sounds quite depressing, the film beautifully handles a man trying to live his life to the fullest and Tucked is both moving and funny at the same time.
With the film being available on DVD and digital download now, Attitude's Digital Editor, Steve Brown, speaks to Jamie about his inspiration behind the film and what gender means to him.
Derren Nesbitt and Jordan Stephens
Tell me your inspiration behind Tucked
It actually came from a night out in Brighton about seven years ago. I ended up in this amazing little pub in Kemp Town, it was karaoke night and there was this incredible drag queen hosting.
The drinks started flowing and after butchering Maggie May it came to the last song of the night.
There was only a handful of us left by this point but that didn’t matter, if anything it made it more personal. The last song of the night was 'I Dreamed A Dream'.
I remember half way through the song this drag queen pulled of their wig to reveal this beautiful bald head. As the song built everything got more emotional, for some reason they started crying (it might have had something to do with the eight vodka cranberries) which meant I started crying and then everyone started crying.
It was a really powerful moment which for one reason or another really connect with me.
When I was leaving I just wanted to know more about this drag queen. Where were they going now? That’s where the opening scene came from.
The rest just came through life experience, every character is the film is based on someone I've met.
It was both funny and emotional. Was that something you were hoping for when you wrote the script?
100 per cent, comedy and tragedy come hand and hand for me. I wanted to make an uplifting film, which might sound strange considering the subject matters the film deals with, but at the heart of it it was a story about an unlikely friendship.
Family. Love. Loneliness etc. Life is brutal and harsh and I think the way we deal with that is through comedy, I think that's maybe why the film seems to have connected with people.
What I loved is that Jackie is straight and the relationship between him and Faith was amazing. Did you always intend for Jackie to be straight?
Yes absolutely. I think the scene between Jackie and Alex (club owner) perfectly sums this decision up. There's this perception that comes with a drag queen that they must be gay, but why?
People don't assume that everyone who doesn't wear a dress for a living is straight.
There are no laws that come with wearing a dress, some people might just like to do it, or feel more comfortable doing it. Sexuality shouldn't be decided by the clothes you wear.
Having a straight drag queen was an interesting twist on a traditional queer story. It was a fresh take and I really loved it.
Thanks you so much. I like to try and put my own twist on anything I do.
This was a real passion project of mine, I wrote it in just over three weeks, but it took me nearly five years to find someone to fund it.
The material for Jackie was brilliant! Did you have any help when writing the script from drag queens?
Me and Derren did a fair amount of research when it came to the gags. I think he could have done a forty minute set in the end.
It's so hard for the actor when it comes to filming stand up sets because the audience needs to remain completely silent.
He did an incredible job though. The jokes are sexest and not very pc but that 's the point.
Jackie's act is out dated but it comes from a good place, it comes from just wanting to entertain.
Derren Nesbitt was phenomenal as Jackie. Looking back now, could you imagine anyone else playing the role?
I wrote the part specifically for Derren. I don't know what I would of done if he had of said no, thankfully it was the quickest yes I've had! He's amazing in the film, as are all the cast.
Actually, even Jordan Stephens was brilliant. He could easily pull off being a drag queen!
Haha yeah he was wonderful. Jordan actually came to the project pretty late on, and when I say late on I mean four days before we started shooting. It was one of things, we desperately needed to find someone but they had to be right.
I remember I was watching Tv late one night and ended up watching a show called Glue, which Jordan was in.
He came onto the screen and I just thought he's brilliant, he had such screen presence but also this lovely vulnerability about him.
My producer contacted his agent and after a two hour conversation on the phone (he was in Amsterdam) he agreed to fly back and do the film. Him and Derren didn't actually meet until day one of shooting.
The first scene we shot was the scene in the bathtub, at that point we were just praying it worked, thankfully we had nothing to worry about. When it comes to independent filmmaking you need a bit of luck sometimes.
I loved Faith’s explanation about gender in the film. Is that something you agree with yourself? ‘The thing between your legs does not identify you’.
Yeah very much so. I'm actually working on a project now which deals with toxic masculinity, the idea of what makes a man a man.
I think gender isn't as simple as some people think, for instance Steve Oram's character in the film.
There's a real ignorance towards change in general I think. I don't expect attitudes to change overnight, it's a conversation and adjustment but it's important for those conversations to be had and people to be heard.
At the heart of Tucked is a story about human beings and none of us are the same, that makes us all unique and special. Hopefully that sounds more poetic than wanky.
Derren Nesbitt and Jordan Stephens
I knew the ending would come – that’s no spoiler to say Jackie has terminal cancer – but there was no death scene. What was the decision behind this?
I used to joke that it was because I didn't have the budget to shoot any more, however I think if I had of had all the money in the world I wouldn't have shown it. For me the film is about finding life through death.
I know that sounds wanky but I wanted the ending to be feeling uplifting and hopefully, which might sound strange considering what happens. Hope we found a way though.
Tucked has received amazing response and won prizes at Outfest. How do you feel about the reaction to the film?
It's been a bit overwhelming but incredible. Tucked was my twelfth feature film but it was the first one to achieve this kind of success.
I've been lucky enough to watch the film with audiences all around the world. Outfest was unbelievable, up until that point only four of us had seen the film, we loved it but were biased.
We premiered to over seven hundred people in LA and the film received a standing ovation. Since then the film has played in over forty festivals, won numerous awards and secure worldwide distribution.
It's been an incredible few years and it's a film I haven't got bored of watching, even though I must have seen it over a hundred times. I'm very proud of this film and really hope it continues to find an audience of the years.
Watch the trailer for Tucked below: