Hello Michelle, thank you for taking part in this interview. Could you tell me a little about yourself?
My name is Michelle Leigh
Simply put I am a registered nurse, the single mother of two amazing young women and the founder of children’s theatre in my community to elaborate a bit more, I became a theatre geek at the age of 13 years and continued on that path until I was 26. I had learned the art of performance, stage management and directing up and down the North West coast of America.
I took a hiatus from theatre after I had my first child and decided it was time to look into a career that didn’t require job to job uncertainty.
I graduated from nursing school in 2000 and have spent the past 16 years in the most amazing career I could have imagined.
Eleven years ago, once my life as a nurse was settled and other interests were able to be pursued again, I started a children’s theatre in my community. initially it was to provide an opportunity for my own child to gain the same confidence and strength theatre had given me. However it very quickly became an outlet for so many that I have kept it going.
We are currently in rehearsals for our 26th production.
Could you explain about the project you are working on?
“More than Only” became the passion project for me, a first time screenwriter, film director and producer.
It was a story that evolved, literally from beginning to end without an outline or plan, once the opening sentence of the film, “my father only wanted two things; straight A’s and a straight son”, came to my mind.
It is a story far too real for so many in the LGBT community. It evolved into becoming about showing that being told you are “Only” worthy of affection, even from a parent, if you willingly hide an intrinsic part of yourself, to discovering you are so much more when you live your life for yourself and love everything about who you are and know that you are “More”.
How and why did you come up with this project?
I became an LGBT advocate about four years ago, I learned two things that changed my perspective and altered my mind set about advocacy
Firstly the complacency is as detrimental to society as bigotry, it helps no one. It allows hate to grow and spread and it defeats the purpose we were all placed here for, to support, help and love one another.
Secondly when asked how I can support LGBT as it goes ‘against what is natural’ I learned this VERY truthful statement “you fall in love with a person: not a gender”
That has catapulted my belief and my stance on love, regardless of the gender of the person, love is love.
It made me think about love from a physiological perspective, once I made the connection again, love is nothing more than a chemical reaction to another human being that you are drawn to, knowing that that chemical draw has NOTHING to do with their gender, again my stance grew and strengthened and I can state loudly with the best of them, love is not a choice that is made. It is a response to another who feels it as well.
What became the opening senescence of the film, “My father only wanted two things; straight A’s and a straight son, was one I had penned, as a challenge to myself, in response to an LGBT television character and his relationship to his father.
I wanted to define the relationship in 3 sentences or less.
I saw the name “Justin Johnson” on a door name plaque in a shop almost a year later and thought “that name should be in a movie”.
On my drive home that sentence re-occurred to me, by the time I was home what is essentially the essence of the opening voice over was written.
From there the story continued to evolve and the characters who surround Justin fell into place.
As I neared the ending I didn’t know what it was going to be or how to settle Justin’s story, but like the opening sentence – it simply happened when I sat down and allowed it to.
My goal was to provide what I had seen many posts about from the LGBT community, a real romantic comedy and a real LGBT couple that we see laugh, cry, fight,hurt, love and carry on living their lives to the best of their ability, just like every couple that is represented in the media, gay, straight, black, white, mixed race and so forth.
LGBT representation has evolved a great deal in the last five years, but it is still new and just starting to build momentum.
I would love for my film to be a small contribution to a necessary genre.
Could you tell me about the plot?
More Than Only is the story of Justin Johnson, an openly gay young man.
When not under the watchful eye of his father, Justin tries to find his place in this world and someone to share it with.
After meeting Michael Garner, Justin resolves to do whatever it takes to win Michael’s heart. While not impressed with Justin’s antics, Michael is willing to give Justin a chance and a first date, if he can complete three impossible tasks first!
While Justin courts Michael, he must contend with the looming disapproval of his father, who only wants two things from Justin:
“straight A’s and a straight son.”
So how can people help out?
We do have a donation button up on our website and it is available.
We are planning to attempt a kick starter again in January/February, so watch out for that.
I have applied to two different grants at this point – one with Tribeca – the second with frame line – both as a completion grant.
I am hopeful that those will be a huge assist for us moving forward as well.
We are doing the Seed and Spark Campaign through May 31. – I need 500 followers (We have just over 200 already!) for “Project Greenlight” and I have a contribution minimum to raise to assist with the final phases of post production – my link to S&S is: https://t.co/crhn6QNhWd
Please if anyone wish to help out don’t hesitate to contact ourselves,its so important for the comuinity.