October 20, 2020 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Veronica’s transformation helps a San Diego filmmaker grow, VIDEO

BY TROY MASTERS  |  In the era of a President-elect Donald Trump, and an Oscar committee historically unable to acknowledge talent of color, filmmaker Miles Sager is not your average 22-year-old college student; and the short film he recently completed about his transgender roommate proves it.

Although the product of a private prep school in San Diego, Sager did not take the traditional path when he graduated from high school. He was accepted to University San Francisco, but he chose the Academy of Art to study filmmaking.

“I never really felt I fit in. I got into trouble a lot and didn’t do very well school. I had taken a film studies class freshman year and it had started to resonate with me,” Sager says. “ It wasn’t until junior year when I came back to it and it all clicked. It was the first time I had accomplished something like that in a school setting and it was a great feeling. I thought ‘that’ll show them,’” he says.

Freshman year at Academy of Art, Sager was paired with his new roommate, Alex, an art student from Paso Robles, California.

Sager’s parents met Alex when they moved into the dorm and were relieved he’d be sharing his first year away from home, with a mild-mannered kid.

By Christmas break the two had become friends and they truly cared for one another.

But, by the last semester of their Freshman year, Sager met a girl with whom he became serious and out of the blue Alex ended their friendship. But the reason became clear a few months later when Sager, scrolling through Facebook, saw that Alex was transitioning to female and had changed his name to Veronica.

The mystery was solved; Alex had been traversing complex waters and Sager had no idea.

“I have trouble even wanting to post a status on Facebook, but when I saw that Veronica had come out on social media and was proudly posting and living her life the way she wanted to, it really touched me. Everyone wants their friends to be happy, in whatever capacity,” Sager says.

Sager decided to make a film about Veronica. He says he was daunted by telling her story and was at first afraid to contact Veronica.

“It had been almost two years since we had actually talked. I was worried she wouldn’t want to be a part of the project and would think I was taking advantage of her story in some way. And I worried that even if I did it, I couldn’t do it justice, in both the technical execution and the power of the content,” he says.

Sager worked up his nerve and called Veronica, and, although she didn’t message back immediately, within a few days she agreed to sit down with him. He told her about his film idea, and she felt comfortable enough to become involved as a consultant on the film.

Sager opted for an Academy graduate to be producer. He’d met Julianne Flanagin working as the first assistant director on one of her films, and says he liked and respected her a lot.

“This project [Veronica] meant a lot for me personally because as a gay woman, I grew up with a lot of adversity, similar to that depicted in our film,” Flanagin says. “I was routinely harassed by small minded folks, and the struggle that Veronica goes through, trying to accept her identify despite the opposition, was very real for me,” she says.

Flanagin admits she was “a little surprised” that Sager wanted to tell this story, as he hadn’t had these kinds of identity issues of his own. But, she says, “when he explained that it was based on a friend, I understood that this was part of his process in coming to terms with what friendship to an trans person means.”

Tiffany Tse directed the film.

“I wanted to help tell the story of how one individual was able to break free of their fears and show the world who they really are with no intention of pleasing anyone else but themselves,” Tse says. “If just one person gains empowerment from it, all our effort towards that one goal would be met. I wanted to help the actors to be as close to real as possible. The emotions needed to be raw. I think the positive message of the film will really touch a wide audience, and I’m so happy that I was able to help bring that to life,” she says.

By the time the script was finished, the roles cast, and the crew assembled, Sager beamed with pride about the diversity of the production team he had assembled.

“I was proud we were able to have a completely minority and female led, cast and crew. Along with the rest of the crew and amazing cast, led by Ryan Vásquez as Veronica, we had such a great time shooting this project, the good vibes were there and that really gave me peace of mind that this was going to turn out to be an outstanding film,” he says.

Sager says his biggest fear making this film is that people will question why he ever wanted to do it all. Is it his story to tell? Veronica told Sager that she felt that she’d never seen her story like hers on-screen and that really made her want be a part of it.

“As an artist and a minority I know it can be hard to fully express yourself when everyone just wants to put you down, joke and mock you. After working on the project I realized the biggest thing about people who are transitioning is that they aren’t changing into someone else, they are just becoming themselves, who they are supposed to be,” Sager says.

in FILM
Related Posts

To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar 25th Anniversary

September 12, 2020

September 12, 2020

The cult classic “To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar” hugely popular in the LGBTQ+ community celebrates its 25th...

OUTFEST Announces “Taiwan Program”

September 6, 2020

September 6, 2020

The 2020 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan (R.O.C) and Taiwan Academy...

Long Beach QFilm Festival

August 30, 2020

August 30, 2020

The 2020 Long Beach QFilm Festival, is a celebration of the rich diversity and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,...

Award-Winning Gay Producer Ash Christian Dead at 35

August 23, 2020

August 23, 2020

Lauded producer, actor, director, and writer Ash Christian died in his sleep while vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Thursday...

31st GLAAD “Virtual” Awards

July 15, 2020

July 15, 2020

GLAAD the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today announced that it will host...

Los Angeles Premiere of Latinx LGBTQ Film at Outfest Fusion

February 26, 2020

February 26, 2020

“Acuitzeramo” screening March 9 By Staff Writer Outfest Fusion presents the Los Angeles premiere of Cabaldana Alchemy’s short film “Acuitzeramo”...

USC One Archives to Host Screening of Film on Black Trans Woman to Honor Black History Month

February 1, 2020

February 1, 2020

Meet Mary Jones, a black transgender woman born in New York in 1803. Described as a “man-monster” in the press. ...

HRC to Honor Dan Levy, Janelle Monáe at Award Ceremony in DTLA

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

Award Season is upon us, and the LGBTQ+ Community is not immune. HRC announced today that actor Dan Levy will...

LGBTQ+ Ally Taylor Swift to Receive GLAAD’s Vanguard Award

January 7, 2020

January 7, 2020

GLAAD announced Tuesday, Jan. 7 that Taylor Swift with receive the Vanguard Award at the 31st Annual GLAAD Media Awards. ...

5 Holiday Movies and TV Episodes Featuring Happy Queer Plot Lines

December 22, 2019

December 22, 2019

Christmas is just around the corner and yet, you’re still searching for more holiday cheer? Flip on Lifetime or Hallmark...

Hallmark Apologizes, Reinstates Commercials Featuring Same-Sex Couple

December 16, 2019

December 16, 2019

Hallmark Channel faced a wave of social backlash after its parent company – Crown Media Family Networks – quietly removed...

‘Tis the “Season of Love” in Queer Holiday Rom-Com

November 30, 2019

November 30, 2019

Every holiday season traditional and streaming networks create a ton of holiday romantic comedies but they consistently fail to create...

Documentary Honors Los Angeles’ LGBTQ+ Vets for Veterans Day

November 11, 2019

November 11, 2019

In honor of Veterans Day, some LGBT Senior Veterans at the Los Angeles LGBT Center shared their stories and experiences...

GAY LA: Judy Never Really Left Los Angeles

November 2, 2019

November 2, 2019

How the queer Icon has shaped L.A. There’s no doubt about it: 2019 is the year of Judy Garland. In...

More Than Just Another Gay Character

October 17, 2019

October 17, 2019

In Hollywood, LGBTQ+ characters that are more than just — well, LGBTQ+ — can be hard to come by. Most...