Listen to the Behind-the-Scenes Features! I produced them, and they're pretty darn cool.
Spoiler Alerts: Major and delicious.
Needless to say, I didn't do it alone. I'm lucky enough to produce this behind-the-scenes series for Audible and Amazon Studios, with show artists Jill Soloway, Andrea Sperling, Ethan Kuperberg, Ali Liebegott, Esti Giordani, Doug Patterson— and my tireless brilliant editor, Jessica Lockhart.
We were also fortunate enough to commission an original score from composer/pianist Daniel Goldsmith. They all take my breath away!
“This, what we're doing, does matter. People are making decisions. People are offered other things. They don’t have to do this. The bet’s down here— Here we go.”
"My father came out as trans, three years ago at the age of 75. I created the show as a tribute to our family. This show is not a profession for me. It’s not my “job.” This is my offering to the world, to make the world a safer place for my dad."
"Josh is... an alpha guy who is probably the most sensitive of all the Pfefferman’s.
"[He's] is searching for some kind of freedom, some kind of peace. When he starts to see it in Maura, he realizes there’s something real going on, some real power there. But he is the last to know. And he is the furthest from being able to deal with it."
"As an actor, I was using meditational techniques I’ve never used in my personal life. I'd have to go from full rage to "chipper and in a good mood" — like walking off of an elevator— within like two minutes."
"It’s not about "becoming a woman." It’s about becoming a transgender female. We’re not trying to fool anybody. We’re not trying to have anyone else’s experience but our own.
"It’s not a choice, this thing. If I was going to choose something, I would choose to paint my nails. I would not choose to live this life. I was born transgender and I own that."
"It is funny, realizing how many sex scenes I’ve shot.
"Jay Duplass said, “I was with my wife the other day and it was weird to be having sex without Nisha telling me what to do!' ...Then Amy Landecker calls and says, 'Can I come over and direct her having sex with her boyfriend?”
"Then Gabby Hoffman wanted to fly out to New York to direct her having sex with her boyfriend. Jeffrey Tambor said: 'He’s got it.— Thank you very much.'"
How To Become TV/Film Music Supervisor:
"When I was a kid, I'd sit in my mom’s car and just change the music to see how it influenced the way she drove. I would put a Rush song in, pop it out, and then throw in Meat Loaf or Neil Diamond... my poor mom.
"I was "supervising" my experience in the car at a really early age, so yeah, you’re right— it’s something I didn’t realize I was destined to do, but it turned out that way."
"My favorite thing is to have the camera on my shoulder moving through space with the actors responding to what’s happening.
"Like, the huge upset with Maura and Ali in episode 10— Being next to Ali, having Maura raging at her, I would feel like Ali. Then when I’d flip it, I'd be in Maura’s space....I felt like the infant version of both of them."
I've always been such a fan of all the behind the scenes features of my favorite movies and television series. When I think back, my work on Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's Celluloid Closet was an early sign that I couldn't get enough of the "stories underneath stories."
I've been thinking about a lot of old friends as Transparent debuts— trans pioneers, who when we first met— this show would have been inconceiveable. —A very heavy closet, not only in the straight world, but to many in the conservative gay community, who were like, Go Away.
I'm sure you old-timers remember the major activist meetings where we were bodily thrown out, because the "lobbyist faction" said, "We can't be fighting the Moral Majority with a bunch of tranny queers, butches, and sadomasochists from San Francisco." OH YES. My memory is failing me, but not on that.
Some of you remember in the 70s and 80s when we first talked about butch identity, (the TV show I dream of!) and trans issues in On Our Backs — oh, the threats and letters to the editor! A lot has happened since then. Some of our most charismatic "cover girls," LOL, became transmen of great influence.
Jill's new saga is unique. Since the day I discovered her work, via Andrei Codescru 90s New Orleans, of all things— she made me scream, "I-can't-believe-someone's-finally-saying-this!"
In Transparent, Jill's taking the story right into my old neighborhood, the Jewish community of Silverlake and the West Side of Los Angeles.
Every detail is so RIGHT! I remember the first student who wore a "DYKE" button to Uni High School in 1976, how I worshipped her in 10th grade. Or the night she agreed to meet me in that Venice studio on Brooks, when she said pushed me back on the bed and said: "I'm stone." I didn't know what that meant. The Spinners LP hit a skip on the turntable.
Like Ali, the youngest daughter of the Pfefferman clan, I was a "vaginal learner."
I loved Soloway's interview the other day, where she said, "I had spent decades hiding unlikable, unattractive Jewish girls in likable, attractive, non-Jewish actors and characters. —Really trying to tamp down the otherness of my experience so that I could sell it and so that I could monetize it. And in watching Tiny Furniture and Girls and seeing what Lena Dunham didn’t do — she didn’t apologize, she didn’t stress to create an imaginary persona, she just was. It made me so jealous. It was like, Oh, all you ever had to do was nothing. All I ever had to do was stop pretending."
And she did stop pretending, with her first feature film, Afternoon Delight. Honestly, I can see the Jill wit and insight in everything she ever touched, from her early stories in Best American Erotica to Six Feet Under. Or, her memoir, Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants, which I remember editing between takes as a bong-wrangler on SFU. Good times!
So, about those early gender-defiant pioneers who changed my life, in more ways that I can count: I want to say their names. It's an unfinished list, to be sure. As Ali Liebegott wrote recently, "I’d never counted how many of my friends were trans, because why would I, they were just my friends."
Nevertheless, let's have an old school toast. This who I dedicate my work to:
Kate Bornstein, Max Wolf Valerio, Charlie Jane Anders, Patrick Califia, Del La Grace, Lou Sullivan, Lana Wachowski, Leon Mostovoy, Sandy Stone, Susan Stryker, Leigh Crow, Lynn Breedlove, Billy Martin (Poppy Z Brite), T Cooper, Jamison Green, Leslie Feinberg, Joan Roughgarden, Riki Wilchins, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Rachel Pollack, Cooper Lee Bombadier, Loren Cameron, Rocco Katastrophe, Rachel Williams, Elexis, Stu Doogan, Karlyn Lotney, Barbara Carrellas, Jack Bruckman, Red Jordan Arobateau, Justin Vivian Bond, Jacob Anderson-Minshall, Christine Beatty, Barbara Carreras, S. Bear Bergman, Matt Kailey, Veronica Vera and her amazing school, Mariette Pathy Allen's groundbreaking photography...
I bet I left someone near-and-dear out, in my excitement. You tell me! It's time for everyone to tell their story.
All Transparent credits are at IMDB, including TransFirmative gurus and consultants,who were on everyone's lips on set: Rhys Ernst, Zachary Drucker, Ian Harvie, Leon Mostovoy, and Van Barnes... too much to say here!
Photo Credits, Top to Bottom:
Transparent billboard, from Amazon Studios
Amy Landecker (Sarah) having heart to heart with Jeffrey Tambor (Maura) from Amazon Studios
Jill Soloway and the universal sign of the Gender Neutral Bathroom! Caftan Culture rules.
Amy Landecker as "Sarah" on Transparent from Amazon Studios
Jay Duplass as "Josh" on Transparent from Amazon Studios
Moira and Davina on set, played by Jeffrey Tambor and Alexandra Billings, from Amazon Studios
Director Nisha Ganatra at OUTfest
Music Supervisor Bruce Gilbert
DP Jim Frohna and Colorist Corinne Bogdanowicz at the Editing Bay for on Transparent, Bryant Frazer for Studio Daily
Jill Soloway on the set of Transparent, Michele Asselin for The New York Times
As all of you who work in this shiny-star world know, it takes a small city of dedicated professionals to make a production like this. I wish I could tell you about all my colleagues at Audible and Amazon Studios who “produced” this, but they would kill me for dragging them into the lime light! Just know... that I am very grateful to all of them and if they want to out themselves here, GO FOR IT.