AJ Mattioli is an up and coming queer filmmaker. This cutting edge trans filmmaker is not only one of the freshest voices in LGBTQ cinema, but his films are getting mainstream attention as well. Words, which has some big names attached, is now available on Amazon. This past week, AJ was nice enough to give me an interview.
1 What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
When I was younger I would watch movies with my parents and family often. If I had the chance, I was at the video store. I was even lucky enough to have worked at Blockbuster for a few years, and to this day this is my favorite job! However, it wasn't until I went to college that I found out that you can major in many of the entertainment fields. I was never a great student and didn't really want to go to college due to a slight learning disability and feeling like I would struggle. After coming out in at an all girl Catholic High School, I was done with the pressures of being LGBTQ and a student and wanted to find myself. However, being that I am very close to my parents, they begged me to put in at least two years and then I could quit. My second semester in Freshman year I had had it with the stress and was about to quite, when Debbie, a good friend of mine said "You watch a lot of movies, why don't you taking a film making class?". So sophomore year I loaded up film courses and made my first short film. I loved everything about it and although some of it was difficult do to my learning curve but, for the first time, I actually wanted to learn. There was no turning back!
Before words was the film Gay Positive, a documentary about the fact gay men are banned from giving blood. Was there any event in particular that inspired this?
Gay Positive came about after a fellow producer tried to donate blood for the first time in years and saw that the application still stated a "man who has had sex with another man can not give blood. I was over his house and he was irate about the situation. We talked over it a bit and decided we could make a really great documentary for a pretty low budget. I am very proud to have worked on that film and am happy to have made the smallest of change in this fight. Sadly, these men are still banned from giving blood. It was heart breaking to hear how many people refused to answer us on camera as they would rather not receive blood then to given blood from those matching this criteria. All blood is tested thoroughly and this law is literally allowing people to die who are in need of blood . this is antiquated and needs to change.
3 What gave you the idea for the documentary Words?
Words came about when I was discovering myself again. A relationship of 12 years ended, I needed a new place to live after 10 with her, and overall felt out of place. I needed a sense of control and also a way to find me. What better way then to use art as an outlet for this journey. I started things of people I admire, people who are socially progressive, and people who could validate my feelings of who I was going to become and metamorphous into. So, Words was born. A documentary about identity while I figured mine out.
4 I understand you have some big names attached to Words. Who are they?
We were very lucky to have such an amazing cast. We have Drag Queens such as Bob the Drag Queen and Miss Fame from Rupauls Drag Race, Social Activists Rain Dove and Cory Wade, Comedian Adam Sank, Trans actress and Activist Shakina Nayfack from Difficult people on Hulu, Trans actress and model Carmen Carrera! we also have tons of NYC staples such as Tym Moss, Keith Collins, Joanne Filan , and many more who you certainly want to hear from. These people will make you tear up and laugh all in one interview. We even got an interview with the founder of the Ali Forney Center, Carl Siciliano, who is inspiring. we donate a portion of profits to the center to help house LGBTQ youth.
5 Killer Unicorn is one of your most recent films. Of all the animals why a unicorn, they are so cuddly?
Killer Unicorn was a Jose Alvare (writer) and Drew Boltons' (Director) crazy creation! I met Jose through a friend and we immediately clicked. We actually became very close throughout that film making experience. When told he wanted to make a camp horror film starring Drag Queens I was 100% on board to help him produce this film! I was right to jump on board as it is showing at "Newfest: The NYC LGBT Film Festival" on Oct 29th in NYC and already has amazing distribution so it will be on your screens soon! It is funny you see Unicorns as cuddly. I have always liked them for their magical powers, lol. They are also just a powerful and sexy creature. This Unicorn is the sexy actor Dennis Budesheim. His costume simply consisted of sparkle booty shorts, boots, and of course a scary yet beautiful Unicorn mask. Check out behind the scenes pics on insta @KillerUnicornFilm
6 What is your astrological sign?
I was born on Feb. 19th so land on the cusp of Aquarius and Pisces. I really don't know much more then that, other then when I tell people, I usually get an "oooh, that make sense". I choose to take this as a compliment.
7 What do you eat for breakfast?
Part of my work consists of filming LGBTQ events. Most of these amazing gigs are held very late at night at amazing venues, so my eating schedule can be extremely odd. I can often be seen making pasta at 4am or eating eggs at 5pm. Breakfast is still the first meal if it is eaten a 2pm after a gig that ended at 4am, right? I guess the easiest answer to any question about food is, "I want pasta"
8 Where can people find out more about you and your work?
Mattioli Productions has a ton of new work coming out by end of year and into next year! We will be raising money for several LGBTQ+ films so we have more films about this community made by the community. Telling our own stories from our perspective is important for a truly authentic view but with that comes a ton of community funding. So the best way to keep that going is to check out and keep up with www.mattioliproductions.com and Insta @mattiolipro The film "Words" an exploration of identity can be found on all social media @wordsthefilm and on Amazon in the U.K. and all of North America. It is also included with Prime! Also, keep an eye out for the docuseries "My First Time" and our next thriller "Guys at Parties Like it" ( @Guysatpartieslikeit) which are both going to make a bang!