Desperately wanting to act from the time she was very young, filmmaker Anna Martemucci has been quietly making a name for herself in the entertainment world by doing things her own way. Whether it’s through her fictional writing, acting in short videos or producing and directing feature length films like “Breakup At A Wedding” and “Hollidaysburg”, Martemucci’s drive to succeed and ability to express herself creatively has paid dividends.
Martemucci’s new vision, “The Genderton Project” is a cross-dressing comedy series that explores gender roles, sexuality, and sexual politics through a kaleidoscope of three intertwining story lines and eras. Uniquely interesting is the fact that in “The Genderton Project”, men’s roles will be played by women and the women’s roles will be played by men. To that end, Martemucci and her partners at Periods. Films have launched an Indigogo campaign where fans and film lovers can go to help fund the project and choose from a multitude of “gifts” as a thank-you for supporting the cause.
In addition to using the money raised for production costs, Martemucci plans to donate 2% of the total funds to the Human Rights Campaign.
I recently caught up with Martemucci to find out more about “The Genderton Project” and how film fans can support this creative, new endeavor!
How did this idea for The Genderton Project begin?
The whole thing started because my partners, Philip and Victor Quinaz and I (Periods. Films) fell in love with Drew Droege after watching his Chloe Sevigny videos. We were obsessively quoting his videos for a year or so and then once we moved to LA, Victor decided to email him. We met, fell in love and figured we should make something together. Rather than making a baby, “The Genderton Project” was born!
How would you describe the stories/episodes?
We like to say that it’s a little like Portlandia meets The Hours. It’s ridiculous comedy plus extremely curated cinematic images. The thing that always pops into my head is the idea of “what if we made a ridiculous comedy that looks like Todd Haynes’s Mildred Pierce on HBO?” That might be kind of an obscure reference but that’s what I envision for one of the vignettes. Where Drew Droege plays an devoted 1960’s housewife dying from loneliness.
What can you tell me about the cast and your characters?
I can tell you that we are using some of our most favorite performers from the NY and LA comedy scenes. We’ve amassed quite a pool of talent over the years. In addition to our star Drew, we’ve brought on John Milhiser (SNL), Mary Grill (Breakup at a Wedding, Veep, The Mindy Project), Jonny Lisecki (Gayby), Cass Bugge (Key & Peele, The Brink), Jenn Schatz (30 Rock), Matt Hobby (Hart of Dixie, Mom), Beth Crosby (Jessica & Hunter), Philip Quinaz (Breakup at a Wedding, Hollidaysburg, The Chair), Shira Weitz (Brunch on Sundays) and Mel Shimkovitz (Transparent).
You’ve had quite a bit of success with your films “Hollidaysburg”, “Breakup At A Wedding” and “Periods”. What made you decide to go the Indigogo route for “The Genderton Project”?
It might be hard to believe but there is a huge gulf between artistic and financial success. So we don’t have an income to show for the artistic success we’ve been lucky enough to forge! I have a day job and am hoping to make rent this month. And though this is a project we’ve believed in from the beginning; artistically, we’ve shopped it around with tons of enthusiasm and Hollywood was well, interested, but we most definitely heard the words “too gay” come out of more than one person’s mouth. Rather than that unfortunate statement, we like to think of the project as something that’s just a little too groundbreaking for what Hollywood is currently churning out. The executives and producers who dole out money for projects are very single-minded about making their money back. That’s why we decided to take it to the Internet and to the PEOPLE! We felt this was the kind of project that should exist, NOW and not whether or not executives at film and TV companies were ready to put money behind it. The people doling out Hollywood dollars, (God love ’em) have been very wrong before.
How can people help with funding and what are some of the perks supporters can receive?
You can help by contributing to the project and becoming a backer! Join us! Just visit here.
We have a lot of tantalizing perks, like a naked picture of Drew Droege (where we’ll mail you a beautiful female nude with Drew’s head superimposed on her neck). And on the more expensive side are workshops with our filmmaking gang, a custom oil painting by me and even a walk-on role on “The Genderton Project”!
What are you plans for “The Genderton Project” once it’s successfully funded? Do you see it as a more long ranged project?
Our plan is to start production very soon after we’re funded and plan to debut the finished project this summer. The project might go to film festivals, it might act as a TV pilot/ proof of concept for a series or it could end up as a stand-alone piece. We’ve designed it and wrote it with all of those possibilities in mind.
Why do you think people should support “The Genderton Project” in this campaign?
Gender roles and how they define how we live our lives and interact with one another is a hot-button issue right now, and one that’s consumed me for a long time. I’ve been fascinated with the way that being female has defined my life choices and the way that I’m perceived. I’m also obsessed by the idea of maleness and how different or the same my life would be if I was born a male.
I’ve also been frustrated with the portrayal of both women and men in mainstream Hollywood storytelling, and the clichés that tend to dominate many of the narratives we consume on a mass level. Gender roles are strange little boxes that society puts us in. With this project, we’re seeking to upend the way we’ve always seen gender portrayed in cinematic works by creating a cinematic world in which gender means something else entirely, or rather, a world where it ceases to have any meaning. By swapping every character’s gender with that of the actor cast to portray them ,we are calling attention to the rigidity of gender roles in our mainstream stories, and how ridiculous gender stereotyping can be.
We hope this technique will call attention to the sheer humanity of the characters within each storyline. After all, we’re all human and we all bleed red. Shouldn’t our stories at least attempt to reflect the complexity of the human spirit in the same way that life does?
It’s going to be a worthwhile, wacky journey and hope people come with us for this wild ride! It won’t be boring, we can promise you that!