November 13, 2017
Camaraderie and Community at USC and Beyond
Queer Cut, an organization straight out of SCA, is dedicated to promoting the visibility of LGBTQ media on campus and building support amongst LGBTQ students, professors, and allies. Events Queer Cut has brought to campus include an advanced screening of A24’s Moonlight; a Creative Artists Agency (CAA) panel with professionals who identified as queer, discussing topics like how to bridge the gap between marketability and progressive storytelling; held a new student mixer, and even connected students to industry professionals. The organization’s leaders, three SCA students, recognize that building community is crucial in filmmaking, so they even post crewing opportunities on their Facebook group simply to get queer student filmmakers to meet and work together.
While the organization used to hold regular meetings, they are now becoming more networking and event-based to build a network for the LGBTQ community beyond USC. The head of CAA, also an SCA alum, emphasized the importance of having clubs like Queer Cut on campus. The panel also covered how to get more LGBTQ people staffed in the industry, how to appeal to every demographic, and how to truly make changes in programming that was once geared typically towards only straight, white men. Lauren Mok, one of Queer Cut’s three presidents and an undergraduate student in Production, stated, “knowing we have other queer people in the industry who are well accomplished is so encouraging.”
Lauren specifically came on board with Queer Cut because she believed it was important to give students a space to connect with other people who identified similarly. “SCA is one of the most prominent film schools. We have such a huge importance in being able to feed into the industry at large; we’re always on the forefront of embracing new technologies, bringing diverse talent, and new perspectives. So, being able to cultivate those new perspectives within Queer Cut and building camaraderie between students and allies puts us in a great position because we are the next generation of Hollywood.”
Nate Gualteri, another co-president and an undergraduate student in Screenwriting, said that while the more queer stories are coming into the classroom, Queer Cut is about more than that. “You don’t have to necessarily tell queer stories, even if you’re part of that community. You just want to do good work, but it’s helpful to be connected with people who are telling those stories or just to know who else within the school could be a confidant so that you have someone you can to talk to.”
At a place like USC--multicultural, diverse, and in the heart of Los Angeles--it’s critical to create spaces where people of all backgrounds can feel connected to each other and work together in their pursuits. Within Hollywood, this is especially important, because there are so many different voices that need to be heard. While America has become increasingly more diverse, inclusivity hasn’t always followed suit.
In the context of the current political climate, Lauren says, “A lot of people are reasonably shaken. Being able to lead Queer Cut and channel that energy into productive, tangible action towards bringing communities together is so important. Being queer is not always readily visible to people,” Lauren says. “I think it’s so important to carve out these spaces for the queer community, especially now when a lot is at stake for our country. We’re creating media. Media has a huge influence on culture. I want to be involved because I’m passionate about helping forward representation and influencing mainstream perception.”
One of the members of the organization, John Palmer, an MFA Candidate in Film and TV Production, says that Queer Cut is part of a larger social impulse to connect with people who understand you. “I think many people, especially those of us who are part of historically oppressed groups, are uncertain about what the future holds. Having a sense of community at USC that’s unique to your identity helps remind you that the world isn’t an awful place and that there are others who share your experience and goals for social justice.”
While Queer Cut is run by students, it is supported by faculty and administration who provide the utmost support in everything the organization wants to complete. “They’ve always been very forward with letting us know we can reach out to certain people and certain events,” Lauren says. Having such a supportive network is one of the most important factors in leading a successful organization. Nate, Lauren, and Nate Trinrud, Queer Cut’s third president, are also currently talking about doing a mentorship program, which they believe would make it more cohesive and helpful for students trying to break into the industry. Nate Gualteri says, “the future of the group is to be future mentors to the students who are already here.” Queer Cut truly embraces the spirit of community and family, creating a safe space where students can also thrive creatively and professionally on campus.