Lois Munoz Merka, the woman bringing Missing by Drake Braxton to the big screen, took some time out of her busy day to chat with me and answer a few questions.
How do you decide what to work on? Do ideas come to you or are you approached with ideas?
I started out thinking that I would start making my own films and then branch out and direct other projects. I was working on the post production of my first film, Fucking Bukowski, when I was approached to read Missing.
What about Missing by Drake Braxton made you want to turn it into a movie?
The bones of the story just ripped my face off. I saw it as an opportunity not only to make a film but a really interesting one.
You changed the title from Missing to He is Gone, what made you and Gregory Allen (the screenwriter) decide to change the title?
We needed to change the title because there was a film made in the 80’s called Missing and we didn’t want them confused with each other. Greg came up with the new title. It started out He’s Gone but there was already another film out with that title so we went with He is Gone, which I love more.
I know you’ve already scouted out locations, so where are you going to be shooting the movie? What about the scenes in Amsterdam?
The story takes place in Alabama, Boston, Provincetown and Amsterdam. The Boston scenes will be shot at so many Boston Gay institutions, from restaurants and bars, and even the largest health clinic in Boston has opened their doors to let us film. The gay community in Massachusetts is so supportive of anyone who wants to further the cause of civil rights for gay people. Providence, Rhode Island looks eerily similar to some areas of Amsterdam. We’re planning to get footage from Amsterdam for exterior shots because you can’t fake those. For Alabama, I chose rural Rhode Island because it can pass for Alabama. We’ll obviously be in Provincetown because you can’t fake that
Let’s face it, you’ve modeled for Eddie Kent, been in several punk rock bands, been booed by drag queens for winning a costume contest and married a man who was once a stripper. Do you think these experiences give you a better understanding of the non-conventional side to Missing, and will they help bring the story to life in He is Gone?
My experience with the LBGT community started as a child and most likely made me the person I am today. My oldest sister came out in the late 60’s. She would bring her friends over, and they were all diverse, not just stereotypes of what the media shows us as representing what it means to be gay. Her friends were the most loving, interesting, talented people that I had ever met, and thank heavens, drew me to that instead of the oppressive Republican agenda I was being raised with. I feel that the fact that I’m a straight woman who has empathy for the gay community, merged with the fact that I really don’t see us as being different at all other than who we sleep with, makes me see us as one. We are all living this life on this planet together and life is life. Is Missing a gay story? Yes, but the things that are happening in that story can happen to anyone.
There are a ton of people who love Missing, which made a bit of a hoopla when it first came out. Do you find the thought of having to please fans of the book daunting?
I don’t find it daunting. I know that I have a really strong vision that is congruent with the basic agenda of what the story is saying.
You’ve been in the avant-garde art/design/rock world for years. Will you be bringing some of the contacts you’ve made in to help you work on the film?
Many of the people I’ve known over the years will be working on the film in various ways. I am trying to involve as many gay artists as I can, but it’s obviously not a prerequisite to work on the film.
I know there’s already been some buzz about He is Gone. Do you have anybody specific in mind for any of the roles? Has anybody approached you about the part of Blain or Grayson?
Oh, many people have been approaching us since the Huffington Post interview came out. On the main roles, my lips have to be sealed at this point. I will say this, if Cheyenne Jackson called, I would pass out.
When do you start auditions?
We’ll start open auditions in April of 2014 in Boston and Rhode Island.
From what I understand, filming starts in July. Can you tell us little about the locations and how you found them?
Finding locations can be really daunting and extremely expensive. I started my research online and then went to each place in person instead of just sending a formal request. which resulted in many places donating their spaces toward the film.
All projects need money, it’s a necessary evil. How are you raising the money to make He is Gone?
Our gorgeous website will be up and running soon and we will keep posting information there, on our Facebook page and Tweeting as the film develops.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us and I hope you share more information about He is Gone once you have actors for the parts.