Clyde Petersen is long-time member of our Seattle LGBTQ community. He really wears too many hats to name all of them but for now we will stick to musician, filmmaker, artist and story teller. In between kicking butts and taking names, Clyde has finished his new film, “Torrey Pines”. This new film will be premiering and opening the Twist: Seattle Queer Film Festival on October 13th at SIFF Cinema Egyptian. “Torrey Pines” is an autobiographical piece told in stop-motion animation with a full band. This is an event you won’t want to miss. More info soon!
Info from the “Torrey Pines” website:
“Torrey Pines” is a stop-motion animated feature film by director Clyde Petersen. Based on a true story, the film is a queer punk coming-of-age tale, taking place in Southern California in the early 1990’s.
Raised by a schizophrenic single mother, Petersen’s life story unfolds in a series of baffling and hallucinated events. With a mother fueled by hallucinations of political conspiracy and family dysfunction, Petersen is kidnapped at the age of 12 and taken on a cross-country adventure that will forever alter the family as they know it.
Earle Dutton: How many films have you made thus far?
Clyde Petersen: I have made many many films. I bet there are more than fifty. I have made music videos, short films and all kinds of stuff. I also have a TV show called, “Boating with Clyde” that has been going for about six years. I have all kinds of stuff.
ED: What made you decide this biographical film in this stop- motion animation style?
CP: I am primarily an animator these days. This particular technique was the most acceptable way to tell a long format story, I suppose. I preferred it over Claymation or hiring actors to recreate scenes. I like to work pretty quietly with a small crew. That is sort of the ideal scenario for this technique.
Just finished trailer for “Torrey Pines”
ED: Who would you have hired to play your mother if you were going to work with actors?
CP: It would have to be Martha Stewart. My mom idolized her. It would have to be her or a real John Waters star like Mink Stole (laughter).
ED: How long did the film take from concept to finish?
CP: I started working on this project at the end of 2013 so it has been almost three years. That includes development and production. There was at least a year and a half of production. There was animation every day, seven days a week for fourteen hours a day. It was like chaos.
ED: What was it like revisiting these stories and putting them out there for the world to see?
CP: Well, it is hard to describe. There are different parts of the process that have emotional responses for me. At the beginning, you are trying to negotiate the arc of the story. You have to figure out what makes sense to include, the things that don’t make sense and the stuff that is just too complicated. Then when we entered production it just became this day to day process of working on just two or three seconds of the film. We were pretty deeply immersed in the action of the two second shots for a year and a half. That was an entirely different story telling situation. You have to understand how gravity affects objects in the world and animate around it. I found that as we progressed toward the soundtrack and the extreme heavy lifting of making the film was behind us that it kind of became an emotional time for me. All of this really happened when I was a kid, about twenty three years ago, so I have processed a lot of it throughout my life. It feels good to just put it down and be able to walk away from it, honestly.
ED: It sounds sort of therapeutic in a way.
CP: Yes, I know so many artists that make these memoir-esque pieces like graphic novels, films and stuff just to process out the facts, figures and emotions of childhood. I am fond of those stories. I love reading them. I think they are often really strong pieces of work.
ED: Is it hard to keep the longer story arc fluid when you are only able to work on two or three seconds of the film each day?
CP: Well, we did a lot of pre-planning. By the time you get into the two and three second days, you have broken every scene down to a shot by shot. You know absolutely everything that is going on all the time. It is not too hard to keep an eye on the big picture but it is fun to get lost in the details for sure. That is definitely one of the joys of moving so slowly. You get to spend the time to decide which paint is the perfect color for this scene or that one. You get to make things as beautiful as you can with each tiny object.
ED: Has your mother seen the film?
CP: No, we don’t really talk. I am not really in contact with most of my family. I hang out with my dad and that is about it. My dad loves the film. He is a real sweetie. He is very supportive.
ED: Would you attempt another stop-motion animation film of this length?
CP: Oh yes, definitely. There are several more films that I want to make. I am excited to get this one out on the road. We will be touring with it across the country with a live band. Hopefully after that, we will be able to send it out via a distributor and get to work on the next feature film.
ED: How does it feel to be opening Twist: Seattle Queer Film Festival with this film?
CP: Oh, truly exciting. It feels great. I have been extremely supported by everyone at the Three Dollar Bill Cinema. I am very honored. I just can’t wait. It is also at The Egyptian Theater which is so awesome!
ED: What was it like working with the Fiscal Support program at the Three Dollar Bill Cinema?
CP: It is pretty easy and mellow. It is still going on now and will probably be happening for the next year. I imagine it will be even more active as our tour progresses.
ED: What is your favorite part of the film at this time?
CP: We are fresh off of recording the soundtrack and I think that is my favorite part right now. We made it with Chris Walla from Death Cab for Cutie. He was the producer. It has a great live band of local musicians. We even made all of the sound effects ourselves. We didn’t use any canned sound at all. We really built the entire thing up from the ground. I think it really feels authentically ours in a lot of ways.
ED: Do you have a message for up and coming LGBTQ filmmakers out there?
CP: Make as many films as you can. Make them all the time. Use whatever camera you have. Tell all of the stories you want to tell.
ED: You have so many projects between your music and films. How do you stay creative?
CP: I honestly think that being creative keeps me alive. I am constantly struggling to keep up with all the ideas and things I want to do. I don’t tend to have a problem staying creative. I think rotating between all of the different things helps a lot. I think it helps keep things really fresh. I don’t get burned out working on just one style of thing.
ED: Do you have a message for LGBTQ Youth?
CP: Get yourself a copy of a Team Dresch Record, watch a bunch of Sadie Benning films and learn about John Waters. Read Tom Spanbauer books and make art to survive.
Check out Clyde Petersen’s new film will be premiering and opening the Twist: Seattle Queer Film Festival on October 13th at SIFF Cinema Egyptian. “Torrey Pines” is an autobiographical piece told in stop-motion animation with a full band. This is an event you won’t want to miss. More info soon!