I once read a quote that said “ Life is fair because it’s unfair to everyone”. As I ponder on that thought. I can’t help to think that yes life can be unfair, but there are some people who are very lucky to be blessed with an easy life. Today I am speaking with actor/filmmaker Gerald McCullouch who has dedicated 7 years of his life to shed light on the terrible refugee situation happening in the Middle East in regards to the LGBTQIA+ community. Read on as he describes his experience in making his film “ Stuck In Greece” and who influenced his career.
Hello Gerald, thank you for taking the time out to speak with me. Congratulations on your new film “ Stuck In Greece”. Tell me what drew you to make this film?
In 2016, I was brought to Athens for a screening of my first feature film “Daddy”. While there, I attended a panel discussion of LGBT refugees from various Middle Eastern countries who had escaped torture, abuse, rape and death threats in their home countries and now found themselves trapped in Greece during the years long asylum process. They’re unable to live in the camps with the other refugees as many of those refugees in the camps are the same people they’re fleeing, so they are in dire situations. Their stories and their histories and their perseverance inspired me to the point where I felt compelled to document my education of this situation in which they’ve found themselves and I embarked on a 7 year journey. I was utterly astounded by the resiliency I witnessed from younger members of my community suffering through a crisis I hadn’t even imagined was a reality for countless members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Were you ever worried about your own safety in brining light to how dangerous it is for lgbtqi people in the Middle East?
Yes. Multiple times, actually. Making this film was a completely unexpected journey for me and I wasn’t prepared for many of the experiences in which I found myself while filming content for the project. Kinda’ typical for me, though. Oh, Gerald.
It is very courageous for all these lgbtqi refugees to leave their families, friends and careers for their safety. They must look at you like a hero in trying to help them be heard and fight for their human right to be treated equally? How does that make you feel?
Spending years of my life with these incredibly brave people and their stories has been immensely impactful. I’m honored to champion them, along with countless others, in hopefully bringing this struggle to the widest audience possible in hopes of triggering awareness and potentially leading to change.
What did you learn about yourself making this film?
Crazy enough, I partially funded this film with the two “All Male, All Nude” documentary films about gay strip clubs that I made concurrently with this film. So, after 6 years of submerging myself into the world of male strippers, as well as this unimaginable crisis facing LGBT refugees in Greece, I learned a lot about my privilege. I witnessed, first hand, the courage it takes to take control of your destiny and your life. As I say in the film, I found myself asking the same question over and over – do I have the bravery needed to overcome the obstacles facing these people?” I continue to ponder that question.
As a filmmaker what do you struggle with?
Finding the needed financial support required to bring projects to life. It’s a never ending struggle that 100% sucks.
Is there an actor or filmmaker that has influenced your work?
Doug Langway, the director of the “Bear City” films, probably had the biggest impact on me as a filmmaker. I couldn’t have made it to the finish line with “Daddy” without his support and guidance and help. Nor my first stripper doc (I call them “dick docs”. Ha.). I’m forever thankful for the impact he had on my life and my film making. Sadly, he passed away last year. I wish he could’ve witnessed the evolution of this film. I couldn’t have made it without all I learned from him.
Is there a role that you would like to play that you haven’t had the opportunity to play yet?
Way too many to mention. Way.
What advice do you have for people struggling to make it in the film industry?
Man, I’ve been around. The first film I helmed was a short film I made during my 3rd and 4th seasons of “CSI” which was shot on 35mm film! The industry has changed immensely since then and continues to morph. Thankfully, we’re at a place where it’s easier than ever to create very strong and substantial content on your own. You just have to persevere.
Thank you for your time. Any words of wisdom to all the readers?
Ha. See above. You just have to persevere.
Check out the trailer for “ Stuck In Greece”
I was able to watch the film before the release and it is amazing. I was inspired by the strength of all the refugees. This film is a must see. It will touch all your emotions. 5 stars.
Gerald McCulloch instagram is @GeraldMcCullouch
Website is gerald.biz