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Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers #24: Dan Sickles Stays Up All Night for Drag Shows in 'Mala Mala'

Indiewire By Ziyad Saadi | Indiewire April 14, 2014 at 2:37PM

The transgender community is becoming more prominent in both society and film, with their humanity being exposed in ways never seen before. This is particularly true in the case of director Dan Sickles, who documented the Puerto Rican trans community in his documentary "Mala Mala" while witnessing and experiencing the extreme highs and lows of their lives.
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Dan Sickles

The transgender community is becoming more prominent in both society and film, with their humanity being exposed in ways never seen before. This is particularly true in the case of director Dan Sickles, who documented the Puerto Rican trans community in his documentary "Mala Mala" while witnessing and experiencing the extreme highs and lows of their lives.

Tell us about yourself. I'm a director, actor, and producer in New York City. On most days I'm also an aspiring writer, politician, astronaut, and marine biologist. "Mala Mala" is my directorial debut, and completing it is the closest I'll ever come to feeling like I've birthed a child. For the past two and a half years, this film has been my life, so watching it evolve into something that can stand on its own is deeply gratifying and nerve-wracking.

What was your biggest challenge in completing this project? The hours. Drag shows begin around 4am, and often end after 6am. For a while it seemed as though there was an endless amount of sleepless nights.

What do you have in the works? Keeping my lips sealed while tending to sprouts of ideas I have.

Did you crowdfund? If so, via which platform? And if not, why? We crowdfunded through Kickstarter for this project. It's an awesome platform to create buzz and gather resources. We had over 300 donors to the project online, and they were, for us, the people who motivated us to keep going when times were difficult. Our group of 300 supporters reaffirmed that there was a need for this type of content.

What camera did you shoot on? Sony FS100.

Did you go to film school? If so, which one? I went to NYU Tisch for Acting.

What films have inspired you? Anything by Haneke I've watched a dozen times. Also anything by Kubrick, PT Anderson, Tarantino, Woody Allen...I love them all for different reasons. The documentary work of D.A. Pennebaker, the Maysles, and Nicolas Philibert has had a huge influence on me as well. I'm also a huge fan of action movies and believe the genre is grossly under appreciated. "Die Hard" deserves its own, separate shoutout.

Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2014 festival. Go HERE to read all the entries.

This article is related to: Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers , 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, Dan Sickles, Mala Mala, Festivals