Gina Hole Lazarowich
Originally Published during Raindance 2019
Filmed over a three year period, the film follows Krow’s transformation from female to male, then making his male model debut on the Luis Vuitton runway. Director Gina Hole Lazarowich’s important story shares the emotions of family and friends through his journey, the film will premiere on the opening night at Raindance Film Festival and is slated for release on OUTtv (Canada/Australia/New Zealand/South Africa) in 2019.
Hi Gina, it's great to talk to you, how's everything going?
A whirlwind of preparation for getting our film ready for its first big screening in London! We are all from Vancouver, Canada so we are all flying halfway across the world for this amazing event.
Any nerves ahead of your World Premiere at Raindance Film Festival?
So. Many. Nerves. (lol).... I am a first-time filmmaker so to know that my film sold out not 1 but 2, standing-room-only theatres simultaneously for opening night is just unbelievable, you BET I have nerves!
What does it mean to you to be bringing Krow's TRANSformation to the festival?
When I read Raindance’s platform and mission statement for this year, I actually teared up;
“Against a backdrop of divisive politics and global turmoil, Raindance uses the medium of cinema to amplify the voice of indie filmmakers with compelling stories to tell. Whether it’s honest narratives from trans people, exposing environmental crimes, or tales of vulnerable individuals forced by fate to make risky choices, Raindance is a champion of the underdog, the marginalised, and the independently minded.”
...everything I stand for in filmmaking and in life is what Raindance is about and promotes, so for them to accept my film, and I guess me as a filmmaker, is the highest of honours and the ultimate platform.
Can you tell me a little bit about Krow's TRANSformation, how did this film come about?
I was actually contacted by Krow and his mom Lisa 4 years ago, they wanted me to produce his ‘last photoshoot’ in his female body and then another photoshoot after his transition to male. His story resonated with me all night and I came back to them the next day and asked if I could follow them every step of the way from before the transition until he was through everything. We originally wanted to make a ‘how-to’ film to be shown in schools, which we still plan on doing, but the ‘how to’ seems to be reaching all spectrums of people and even teaching a lot, which is amazing.
When did you first meet Krow?
I met Krow actually when he was a young, teenage ‘female’ model! We shot him (‘her’ at the time) for a magazine I produced.
What was it about his story that interested you so much?
I just thought if people could see the steps of a transition then maybe they would understand a little better what the Transgender community go through, and perhaps have some empathy for the Trans community. The medium of film is such a powerful teaching tool, so “show them, don’t tell them” I thought would be a great strategy to help kids, teens & parents, now it seems to be answering questions for many different people.
Did you ever anticipate that you would be working on this film for 3 years?
No! I thought a year, possibly two, but with his Top Surgery being cancelled and rebooked a few times, I know I was in it for the long haul! We just surpassed the four-year mark in September, but our first meetings were in August of 2015.
Due to the personal nature of this film did you have any apprehensions about making this documentary?
A filmmaker friend of mine actually pointed out that there could have been a possibility that Krow could commit suicide if he got too depressed during his transition, which really rattled me, but I was not in control of that storyline, all I could do was show up and film every day-to-day life moments honestly, and three years later we were ‘done’, with an entirely opposite outcome of that original statement!
What was the most challenging part of bringing Krow's TRANSformation to life?
Definitely funding. Since I had not proven myself as a filmmaker before I was turned down for 5 different funding applications, therefore I had to keep funding it myself, along with my Executive Producer husband Tony Lazarowich, we both knew we couldn’t stop now! I pulled in literally EVERY favour from having worked in film and fashion for 30+ years, so I owe so many people so many thanks for believing in me and helping me get across the finish line, especially OUTtv Canada who came to my rescue with some money in year three.
What was the most valuable lesson you've taken from making this film?
Absolutely do NOT listen to the negative voices in your head -or the disapproving glances in real life- 100% follow your instincts that you have a great story and do everything in your power to tell that story, settle for nothing less.
"I pulled in literally EVERY favour from having worked in film and fashion for 30+ years..."
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Yes, I was a makeup artist in the film for 25 years before becoming a producer, and those were some of the best years (and exhausting) of my life creatively...I always felt more part of the ‘team’ in Indie film making, we all made the shots better together and ran to get that end-of-day light shot as a team, that is what I love about Indie film. Also my husband still is an SPFX Coordinator in HIS day-job (he blows up stuff for a living) so we have 2 other companies in SPFX as well as my producing, we talk film every night when we both get home from days on set, we love our jobs and both have felt we have never worked a day in our lives as we are doing what we love to do for 30+ years.
How much has your approach to your films changed since your debut short?
I love stories, stories that can teach someone something, even just an “oh I didn’t know that”, knowledge is power. The first short I produced was a comedy, it was hilarious, I could also work on projects that make people laugh all day, I love comedy...I know that’s ironic with my documentary’s subject matter, but let's just say I have a big heart for storytelling but always love to laugh, lol!
Is there any advice you've been given that's stuck with you?
A mentor I reached out to about this film and being a first-time director said to me, “Gina, just do it!” “get the story, if the story comes through the rest will follow...”
Do you have any advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?
Trust your inner instincts, find a good story, and don’t do it unless you are prepared to devote ALL of your time and money to have the very best film you can achieve up on the screen, be a perfectionist, even if you do not have the budget, you don’t have to make excuses or say sorry for perfection in your film.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Krow's TRANSformation?
I hope for a kinder and gentler understanding for the Transgender community, they have it hard enough, they need our love and support, #loveislove.