THE WHY GENE
A story of gender, friendship, sex, and scones
nICOLA JANE CHASE
Nicola Jane Chase talks about The Why Gene and her vision for it.
How do you envisage the film?
Funny, poignant, and with a rocking soundtrack! The main character is transgender, and so - like any trans person - she has to deal with the misconceptions of others in day to day life. The film explores and confronts these but in ways that anyone can relate to, even though few non-trans people ever have to. Like me, she only realized she is trans later in life and so she sees the duality of gender in a quite singular way. But this is as much about friendship, and living, and dating in New York City, as it is about being trans. It is definitely not a sequel to The Danish Girl - great film that it was.
Funny? So is it a comedy?
No, it's not a comedy per se, but I find the best way to explain many complicated situations is through humor - as anyone who has read "Tea and Transition" can attest. There were a lot of unexpectedly funny times during my own transition, and I’ve included many of those here. Mine was not the 'woe is me, I'm in the wrong body' perception that people often associate with being trans. Of course, there were moments of depression and rejection for me, but I've intertwined those experiences with deeper threads of humor within "The Why Gene".
Yes, I would like movie-goers to leave the theater with a greater understanding of what it means to be trans, but equally I want them to leave with a big smile too.
What other films would you compare it to?
I’d rather not compare it to anything else! But I could imagine some parallels to (500) Days Of Summer, which I adored, but also hints of a Nora Ephron rom-com, or the depth of musical reverence within Nick Hornby's High Fidelity. But toss in a bit of Bridesmaids or Sex and the City for good measure. I see it being unique with its own character yet somehow familiar.
Those are pretty mainstream films. Is that your intent for "The Why Gene"?
Of course I’d like it to reach the widest audience but not at the expense of what the film is all about. It is very much my ‘baby’ and I do want to maintain creative control, yet I appreciate the commercial practicalities of making films. I am optimistic that the right balance can be found.
How important is music in the film?
Absolutely crucial! Like me, the main character in "The Why Gene" is a former DJ, and so music is inherently important in telling her story. But beyond that, the right music within a film makes a huge difference to the strength of the imagery and the whole cinematic experience. For instance, I can’t think of Trainspotting without hearing Underworld’s “Born Slippy” in my head. That track powered the scene it was in, as did countless other tracks in the same film. I already hear The Cure, New Radicals, Richard Hawley and Kirsty MacColl in my head for scenes that I have written.
How autobiographical is "The Why Gene"?
There are scenes that most definitely happened to me, yes, but others that didn't. Even so, using my own experiences, I know that every event that happens to Nicky in the film is based on realism.
I initially thought this project would be a film adaptation of “Tea and Transition” however I soon appreciated that by developing further the characters I know from real life, and inserting additional situations and players into the narrative arc, I could tell the story more effectively.
Do you have a specific director or film maker in mind?
Several, yes, but ultimately it's more about finding a film maker or studio who shares my vision.
What about actors? Who do you see filling the key roles?
I would love to have Julie Walters playing the main character's mother. When I was writing those scenes, I could hear Julie saying every word. As for the main character, I want to play her myself, though I know that will be a tough concept to sell to producers. But in fact, the best lines are not from the main character, but from those around her - that is where the real acting has to be done.
Do you have acting experience?
I was in a school play when I was 17. I think I played a tree.
No, seriously, I am extremely keen to portray the main character. Let’s say I have hidden depths.
Will you prioritize other transgender actors or crew?
I want the best team possible, and if I can support other trans people along the way, even better.
Are you looking for financing?
Yes, for sure, but the first step is to find an experienced film maker who shares my vision. However if you would like to be a backer in some form, then of course I'd be delighted too hear from you, too!
Can I read the script?
Although it is protected and registered, my screenplay is still intellectual property, and so at this stage, I have to be very wary about where I send it out and to whom. Sorry. But once I have validated your credentials then of course yes.
How should those interested find you?
The Contact Me link below is the best first step, and then we can take it from there. At this stage, I am handling all correspondence myself.
Any final thoughts?
I am truly excited about "The Why Gene". I can visualize everything I have written on the big screen. Yes, making that happen is going to take a lot of connections, willpower, talent, money - and luck. I'm eager to work with those who have done this before and who appreciate the reality of the industry, while never forgetting the buzz of creativity.