We’ve asked the filmmakers for the 11th annual Oxford Film Festival the same five questions. Meet Shaz Bennett, writer and director of Alaska is a Drag.
#1: In 140 characters or less, describe your movie and why someone should see it.
Alaska is a Drag is like if Hedwig and Rocky Balboa had a love child. I think it’s universal so let me know what you think.
#2: Biggest lesson learned in getting the film made? Best part in getting the film made?
Getting a fish cannery to let us turn the drab cannery into a drag fantasy was hard but if you just keep knocking on doors, one of them is bound to say yes somewhere. So, the lesson is never let a no stop you.
#3: Tell us about you. What is your movie making background?
It took me awhile to become a full time filmmaker and writer of television. I started out initially taking tickets at Sundance which led to me watching 1000s of movies a year as a film programmer at Sundance, LA Film Festival and AFI FEST. I’ve also worked in a fish cannery; bartended at a mafia bar; peddled liquor undercover; developed films for actor Giancarlo Esposito; and was Cher’s stand-in for a day. My films and performance pieces have been seen in festivals, theatres, museums and abandoned warehouses all over the United States, Mexico, Canada, South Africa and Europe.
#4 What do you want the Oxford Film Festival audience to know about your film that isn’t obvious from its title or description?
It’s really about friendship and those forever friends you make when you least expect it. And it might be obvious but I love drag queens and boxers equally.
#5: What does the future hold in store for your film and for you?
I’m fundraising currently to make a feature version of Alaska is a Drag. I’m not done with these characters yet. I’m also finishing up another short and have two other features that I’d like to make. It may have taken me awhile to start, so I’m going to make up for lost time fast.