The Interview: Lynn Casper and Channing Duke creators of Pink Sheep Film Festival

Channing Duke

Lynn Casper

NCIndieSeen sat down with Lynn Casper and Channing Duke the founders of the Pink Sheep Film Festival that went underway here in Wilmington, NC Friday June 10th.  The festival featured a broad range of short films and features that addressed issues in the LGBTQ community.  They festival and the films representated is more inclusive rather than exclusive.  Instead of focusing on "gay issues" the festival refocuses its direction on "gender neutral" issues that adds a wider spectrum of topics for filmmakers.

NCIndieSeen:  You guys launched tonight Wilmington's very first annual LGBTQ film festival.  First of all, tell us about what the Pink Sheep Film Festival represents and why did you decide to bring it to Wilmington, NC?

Lynn: Well Wilmington is kinda known for its film industry and Cucalorus has been having film festivals every year for a number of years now and they've started making a name for themselves.  We just wanted to do something that would that would highlight LGBT people and incorporate film an the creative community that has been happening here in Wilmington. 

Channing: I also feel like since its Pride Week, that alot of people are going to pride events and this is a good festival to have to educate people and to not only educate people but to teach tolerance and to let people know that even though they may not be involved directly with th LGBTQ community that they can actually come to these film festivals and socialize and be educated and become more tolerant in the community.

NCIndieSeen:  How did you guys come up with the title Pink Sheep?

Lynn: Well we didnt want to openly say this was a gay and lesbian film fest or a queer film fest.  We wanted to come up with a name that was more original to kind of seperate ourselves and make Wilmington stand out and have a film festival with its own identity.  So my friend Andy Myers who also helped out with the festival, looked online and researched different festivals that were happening and there's this organization in Seattle called Three Dollar Bill and we liked how it was kind of indirect.  The name of their festival kind of hinted towards queer or LGBTQ references.  So we wanted something that was kind of ambiguous yet witty and clever.  So we researched different references that people were using and there was this one thing we came across that someone referred to themselves as the pink sheep of the family.  So we kind of liked that imagery that stood out around it.  Seeing a field of white sheep and seeing a pink sheep sticking out and we could both relate to that. 

Channing:  I also feel that one of the things about being called the Pink Sheep Film Festival is it doesn't just bring in people from the queer community,  but it also makes people who are not in the queer community come to the festival.  It's not like "I'm not queer I can't come to this film festival".  If it was labeled as gay or lesbian people would feel like I don't want to come to that because its not directed towards me.  So I feel like Pink Sheep film made it a wider spectrum of people who would come to it and feel more accepted to come here.

NCIndieSeen:  This is your first film festival and it did really well, you had a lot of people coming out to support it.  What are your plans for next year?  Have you got to that bridge yet?

Lynn:  Well we have discussed doing recurring events throughout the year.  To keep queer film happening in Wilmington.  We looking at doing a monthly or bi-monthly film series and definitely we want to do another film festival next year and maybe even a bigger one. 

Channing:  I think we learned alot this year about what you have to put into a film festival.  Everything from programming, volunteers, sponsorship and stuff like that.  I think next year its gonna be alot better.  It was amazing this year but its definitely a learning process, it was the first time I ever programmed a film festival as well as Lynn and this was a great stepping stone.  We want to keep recurring events throghout the year about this festival to help educate the community and bring tolerance to the community.

NCIndieSeen: What do you hope festival goers will take away from the Pink Sheep Film Festival?

Channing:  Personally I had a lot of people come up to me tonight and alot of the films they saw they were like, "I think this will help the older generation of the queer community remember what it was like going through coming out for the younger generation".  I had alot of people actually come up to me and say, "I think these are really good films that shows what it's like to be queer, young, and growing up and having to go through all of things with school, family, community, work, and relationships."  I feel like people took alot away from it and I heard alot of people say it was very inspirational.

Lynn:  The thing with film is that it can appeal to people of all different age groups.  Tonight we had older people, younger people, and everyone in-between.  Film as a medium used to educate and bring people together is very powerful, so I think using creative art forms in general is definitely a great way to bridge the gay community with the non-gay community.  To help get people on our side and just to show them what it's like for us and the struggles that we go through.  The fact that coming out is a big deal for us and what it means to us.

Channing: I definitely feel like doing things like this in the community will help bridge that gap.  Right now the straight community may feel that they can't reach out to us or may feel disconnected from us.  I think having film festivals and different kinds of events that are queer friendly helps bring people together and thats what we want to do. We want to being the queer community and the non-queer community together and just watch films.

For more information about Pink Sheep Film Festival and future events from Lynn and Channing stay up on their updates through Facebook

Also check out NCIndieSeen's Facebook page for photos from the festival!


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