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Gay Artists Stand Out in Alternative Cities to L.A and New York

  August 29, 2017  |    #Make Money

Gay Artists Should Consider Alternative Cities 

It’s hard for any artist, including gay artists, to stand out in saturated cities such as L.A. and New York. That’s why these gay artists moved to Denver, an alternative city, to stand out from the crowd and avoid high production costs.

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Gay Artists in Denver

“It really comes back to the story… You get to tell people’s stories—that don’t usually get to be told.”

Listen to Gay Artists Thriving in Denver: 


Gay Artists Summary

Rachel Herring Finley is the lead actor in Carlos Daniel Flores’ short film I Stand Still, an abstract piece built around an original poem that explores the love between two women. Part of Denver’s own CinemaQ Film Festival this past July that highlighted local and national gay artists, the short pays tribute to the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, reminding us to “allow ourselves some joy and respect our truth, whatever that may be.”

Born in Puerto Rico, Carlos was exposed to music and the arts from a young age. Film direction satisfies his “desperate need to express” himself and allows for experimentation via the medium itself. He recently moved to Denver from Florida and is inspired by the energy and creativity of the city. Rachel has a degree in opera and musical theatre training from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, but she returned to her home state of Colorado to perform in local professional theatre.

Carlos and Rachel met through the Denver theatre community, and today they share the process of collaborating on I Stand Still, discussing the organic nature of the project, what it was like to film in Denver and the connections between the Pulse shooting and the film. Listen to their advice for aspiring actors and directors, and learn the value of supporting the arts and gay artists in our community!

Topics Covered on Gay Artists

Rachel’s long journey to performing in film

  • Degree in opera
  • Trained at AMDA in New York for musical theatre
  • Returned to Denver
  • Involved in theatre, met film community
  • Fell in love with film

How Carlos came to be a director

  • Born in Puerto Rico
  • Father is musician
  • Love of all arts
  • Realized possibilities of film as medium

Rachel’s affinity for acting

  • Singing cultivated love of performance
  • Love of story

What drew Carlos to directing

  • Desperate need to express self
  • Loves all aspects of filmmaking
  • Need to actively create something

The background of the short film, I Stand Still

  • Part of series
  • Film built around poem
  • Ambiguous, abstract form
  • Subject ties into Carlos’ process of accepting himself as bisexual

How the actors in I Stand Still improvised the central argument

  • Involves two lesbians arguing over hidden relationship
  • Original plan was to ad lib argument, audio wouldn’t be used
  • Drew from big moments in past relationships
  • Difficult to film, but turned out beautifully
  • Shows how similar we all are in relationships

The amazing experience of filming in Denver

  • Carlos recently moved to Denver
  • Loves city, beauty of the mountains
  • Not oversaturated with industry people
  • Struggle to find other creatives
  • Feels like no rules yet
  • Project was very small, didn’t need permits to film in public spaces

The art scene, gay, straight and otherwise in Denver

  • Carlos appreciates energy and creativity
  • Acceptance of all forms has come alive in last decade
  • Investment in murals, street art

How the Pulse Nightclub shooting affected Carlos’ creative process

  • Doing sound design, composing music for I Stand Still
  • Shooting made it difficult to continue
  • Ultimately finished film as tribute, dedicated to victims

The connections between the Pulse shooting and the film I Stand Still

  • Personal connection for Carlos: Clock tower at end as body count
  • Broader analytical connection: Accept your truth, whatever it may be

Rachel’s process for building a character

  • Usually pull from personal experience
  • I Stand Still required actors to build characters as they went, organic experience
  • Connected to feelings from difficult relationships
  • Ultimate goal to make it truthful to audience, other characters

How long it took to film I Stand Still

  • Six weeks with breaks in between
  • All involved in another project at same time

What Carlos’ process looks like

  • Different every time
  • I Stand Still began with poem, storyboard
  • Created schedule
  • Organic process, improvised argument scene
  • Carlos does own sound design, composing, editing and coloring

What’s next for Carlos

  • Follow-up short films (different subject matter, similar style)
  • Working on film around bilingual poem with dancer/choreographer
  • Also working on another short and feature-length film
  • Fun-size film series (under two minutes)

The benefits of starting with short films

  • Work on small budget
  • Good way to explore new things, meet people

Carlos’ advice for aspiring directors

  • Just start creating
  • Don’t worry about what others are doing

Rachel’s guidance for would-be actors

  • Give yourself the opportunity to make mistakes
  • Learn from small parts, projects
  • Network with other artists, learn from their experience

The top three locations for film production

  • Santa Fe/Albuquerque
  • Atlanta
  • Vancouver

Connect with Carlos & Rachel


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