Trans and gender-non-conforming characters are finally enjoying visibility in mainstream media, yet there exist few feature narrative films with transmasculine characters.
When I initially conceived of the Two 4 One premise in 2008, I thought nobody would fund this movie. But things changed—and changed faster than I expected. Though trans visibility is on the rise, there’s still a long way to go in protecting the rights and freedoms of gender-variant people. I, for one, believe we need some entertainment to keep us company along that path.
My greatest influence—indeed a blueprint—for Two 4 One is Billy Wilder’s The Apartment. Wilder managed to meld comedy and drama in a groundbreaking film that dealt with subjects considered taboo while the Hayes Production Code was still in effect: extra-marital affairs and suicide. I still find it remarkable that Wilder tackled this content in 1960 and did so with such heart and subtlety. Other key influences include Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine and Annie Hall and Todd Solondz’ Happiness.
The seed of the story came to me while reading Stephanie Brill’s The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Pregnancy Conception and Birth. My wife was trying to get pregnant and we turned to her chapter on home insemination. We came across this passage: “Be careful – if you’re being sexual with a female partner or transman who does not take hormones, make sure [s]he doesn’t get pregnant!” The idea for Two 4 One came out of that unlikely scenario, which implanted itself in my fertile imagination. Once I recovered from the sleep deprivation of new parenthood, the structure came to me and finally birthed the story. In 2012, I wrote the screenplay and applied to the National Screen Institute of Canada’s Features First Program and Telefilm’s inaugural Micro-budget Program. Both were instrumental in getting the film made.
Coming-out films have their time and place. And while I appreciated and needed the coming-out and transition narratives of early queer cinema, I have longed for something more for many years. Two 4 One is a post coming-out/post transition story that starts in media res along Adam’s journey to manhood and Miriam’s journey to motherhood.
Many reporters have asked me what message I hope audiences take away from my movie. Theme is in the eye of the beholder but here are a few I juggled while writing the script: the road may be bumpier than you expected, so hang on. When you finally have the courage to be true to yourself, remarkable things happen. And, finally, there are a thousand different ways to make a family.
My hope for Two 4 One is that it creates empathy without being prescriptive, educates without being didactic and evokes pathos alongside pleasure.
Trans, queer and ally audiences deserve nothing less.