Guinevere Turner: Queen of the Shorts at Outfest 05
Multi-hyphenated Guinevere Turner, 37, is queen of the shorts at this year’s Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (Outfest 05). The actress-writer-director stars as a clairvoyant in Beyond Lovely, which screened last night as part of Outfest's “Funny Ladies” program.
Turner, in the business for more than a decade, broke through in the 1994 gay film classic, Go Fish, influenced Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy and went on to co-write American Psycho and an upcoming film on ‘50s pinup Bettie Page. She gained a little more mainstream recognition through her work as a writer and actor for the first two seasons of Showtime’s "The L Word." (However, she won’t be back for season 3.)
LAist recently caught up with Turner, writing us back from somewhere in the middle of Slovenia.
Heard that you were out of the country for a few months. Are you working on a new project?
I have several new projects, not the least of which is getting out of LA for a little while and reminding myself that there is more to life than film and television. Not to knock any of that since it is obviously what I do and what I like to do...just needed a little elbow room. Doing travel writing and perhaps hosting a travel show (don't want to jinx that by talking anymore about it), writing about my experiences, working on a script assignment I got right before I left. So far I've been to Greece (including Isle of Lesbos), Italy, London, and am currently in Slovenia on my way to Japan.
How did you come up with the storyline for Hung? It sounds pretty damn funny.
Well the premise, which is that five lesbians who are good friends all wake up and have penises from sun up to sun down, came mostly from conversations with lesbians about what they would do if they had a penis. I mean they would just get really into the whole thing - and yet we know from experience that lesbians negotiate sex very differently from gay men... So I thought having these women running around desperately wanting to use their penises but not quite having the social tools (no pun intended) to make it happen would make a good story. Once I started writing it I realized this was really too much for a short film -- so many stories to tell... Am thinking about making it into a feature...
Hung was your second or third time directing, right? Has the experience become any easier?
It is so different every time - having more money means a new kind of problem, no money is stressful too. I'm learning more each time, but somehow the stakes are higher every time you do it. I really love it, though, regardless, and thrive in a production environment, so even though I look serious and worried, I love all the drama and I always save the shit talking until after we wrap.
Going through Outfest 05 materials and noticed that your name appeared in other shorts, too - Beyond Lovely and Dani & Alice. What attracts you to projects like these? It can't be the money.
Oh no, its not the money. In the cases of both Beyond Lovely and Dani & Alice, the directors are my friends. Hilary Goldberg, writer/director of Beyond Lovely, was a MVP on my team for my short Hummer, so in addition to liking her script and wanting to play a part like that (Lovely is a very earnest, sweet psychic), I wanted to give back to Hil for all of her hard work on my project.
It seems like there are a lot of lesbian filmmakers in LA who help each other out and operate almost as a collective. I am very into that kind of thing and always want to do what I can to keep it going. Roberta Munroe, writer/director of Dani and Alice, is a good friend and also has a small part in my film Hummer (though uncredited for various reasons). And I got to work opposite the lovely and talented Yolonda Ross, who I then cast in Hung.
Do you go after "straight" acting roles or do you prefer acting in gay-themed projects?
I go after anything that I think is well written and has something to say. I'd love to play more straight roles... mostly just because I havent very often.
You've been in the biz for more than 10 years - acting, writing, directing. What challenges you the most?
The politics of it all. Like lesbians in any context, really, there is a lot of drama and intrigue and everyone isnt always as good to each other as they could be. That's a drag. I feel challenged and drained by the competitive factor... that people don't get that there's enough room for everyone to be successful, and that saying something derogatory about someone or their work doesn't make you look any smarter or get you any further. The challenge is to get past all that, and to catch myself if I feel like I am getting sucked into that mindset myself.
And finally, some details for LAist. Do you live in LA? If so, which neighborhood? What's your favorite part of the city?
I currently live nowhere - I gave up my apartment and car and the whole thing... but I was living in Silver Lake and before that West Hollywood for 5 years. My favorite places in the city are El Matador beach in Malibu, Real Food Daily on La Cienega, Downbeat Cafe in Echo Park and all the beautiful backyards people have.
I am feeling a little romantic/nostaglic for LA now that I've been away for a month. I don't miss the 101!
Hung and Dani & Alice screen tonight at 9:45 PM at the Directors Guild of America Theater at 7920 Sunset Blvd. as part of the "Girls Shorts" program. On Sunday, they will be screened at the Village at Ed Gould Plaza at 1125 N. McCadden Place. Tickets are $12.
Hung photo courtesy of Outfest 05. Turner is second from the left.