Girl Meets Girl in Indie Musical "Liberty’s Secret"
The secret is out: a Michigan-based film production company is preparing to shoot the first-ever ’girl meets girl’ movie musical, "Liberty’s Secret." With some help from their online fundraising campaigns, composer/writer Andy Kirshner hopes to raise enough funds to begin recording the musical numbers and shooting scenes by this winter.
"Both political campaigns and musical comedies are about spectacle, and creating these very familiar narratives and stock characters, like the grumpy old man John McCain character," said Kirshner in a recent interview. "I started the piece mainly as political satire; there is one image projected of Liberty, but her reality is something different. As I worked on the script, this became the center of the story."
"Liberty’s Secret" follows squeaky-clean preacher’s daughter Liberty Smith, a Midwestern girl who becomes the poster child for a presidential campaign, à la Joe the Plumber. Liberty finds herself falling in love with her female political handler, and when a video of the two kissing goes viral, she is forced to choose between the life she knows and her new love. This action is accompanied by a catchy, jazz-inflected score.
Kirshner, who is a straight man, said that he wanted to make a musical film that would affirm the possibility of different kinds of loving relationships, calling it "a musical for the post-DOMA, pro-equality generation."
"I have a lot of friends who are lesbians, and I wanted to do whatever I could to help," he said. "I don’t know how to file lawsuits, but I do know how to write musicals."
He chose satire as his medium, citing his love of "The Colbert Report" and host Stephen Colbert’s ability to "take a homophobic statement and twist it in 15 different ways to make you see what’s really behind it." He also noted the satirical work of Mark Twain as a particularly adept medium to entertain and educate without malevolence.
And he made it a musical because...well, because that’s his background! Although he hasn’t written a traditional musical before (with the exception of a short one for children), he studied musical composition, and is an associate professor of music and an associate professor of art and design at the University of Michigan. Kirshner said he wanted all of the things musicals bring with them: the spectacle, the Technicolor, the songs and balloons and above all, the hoopla.
"I want to give people an enjoyable experience, but it is also my goal to expand the scope of human empathy so that you can see yourself in the characters, even if their circumstances and background are different from your own," said Kirshner. "I see my lesbian friends in loving relationships, and I hope that people who are still having trouble wrapping their head around that will see this musical and feel some kind of empathy. I also want to make people laugh, in the way Colbert does."
According to Kirshner, they have shot one scene, recorded some music and cast the lead roles. The film will star up-and-coming, New York-based actresses Devon Perry and Alli Brown, and will be choreographed by Travis Ward-Osborne. Kirshner said they are currently trying to raise enough money to begin production this fall. He said he is also applying for grants.
Kirshner has raised $11,000 via his Indiegogo.com campaign, and is now in the process of raising an additional $20,000 via a Fractured Atlas campaign by June 24 to begin the first phase of production.
Because it’s a musical, Kirshner’s first move will be to hit the studio, to pre-record the score.
"We have recorded four or five songs out of the 12 in the movie," said Kirshner, whose works have been commissioned by the National Endowment of the Arts, among many others. "We’ll go to the studio and record the songs, some of which are solos, and some which have a musical chorus. Then in the winter we will go in and record bigger production numbers that can be shot inside and require more people. When the weather gets warmer, we will move outside and shoot the on-location stuff."
The actual shooting and recording will take several months, with post-production taking several more months. The indie has a target screen date of 2015.
"It will be a year before you can see it, but we are pretty far along," said Kirshner. "The screenplay is written, and I am very pleased with the actors, musicians and the core of the crew. For a long time, it was just me working on it, like pushing a large rock uphill. But now it seems that we have gotten a little more momentum."