Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and Courage Campaign recently kicked off a major video project, asking LGBTers across the nation to share their real life stories via a one- to two-minute videotape.
"You change hearts and minds best by telling stories," Black tells L.A. Weekly.
Sometime after June 15, Black will choose three videos and feature the winners in a television ad campaign to be shot by the filmmaker. What winning characteristics is Black looking for in those videos? He told us.
"The aim is to ask for people's stories far and wide," says Black, who was recently featured in the Weekly's People issue. "To get stories that are incredibly diverse. Because we look like everyone else in America... We aren't only the stereotypes or those lies you hear in church."
The filmmaker is looking for such stories as the first time a person met his or her partner or when a couple first brought home their child or when a person first fell in love with someone. Maybe the story has something to do with work.
All the videos will be featured on Courage Campaign's web site, with three winners picked from them. But it's not a time to think you'll be discovered by Black and be featured in one of his movies -- it's not a screen test for aspiring actors, in other words.
"I don't want them acting or reading monologues," says Black. "I want them to pick a story about their lives and be real."
Black and Courage Campaign founder Rick Jacobs came up with the idea over two years ago when the screenwriter was working with the American Foundation for Equal Rights as that group prepared to challenge Proposition 8 in federal court.
The filmmaker, who's very involved in the gay rights movement, knew that the case would go through a long appeals process, and he hoped to help shift public opinion in favor of legalized gay marriage through a video campaign, signaling to federal judges that Americans believe same-sex marriage bans are unfair and unconstitutional.
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The same goes for any kind of anti-gay legislation.
So now Black wants your stories, and he wants people to be bold, personal, and human.
"Go for it," says the screenwriter. "Do whatever you like. Be true to yourself, and we want diversity."
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.