Dress Code dives into the current discussion of labels. Labels that are both newly empowering, and limiting to minority genders and sexualities. It begs the question why do I need to fit into any of these constraints?
Filmmaker Melanie Notinger - who was shaped by a childhood gender-bending in theatres of suburban Dallas- ultimately gives through this film a defined viewpoint on the importance of feeling comfortable with a nuanced idea of presentation, especially for those who have historically been otherized. The screenplay was particularly inspired by the unnecessary pressure to present as either femme or masc. To choose a binary. Dress Code explores what's in-between.
The film was shot in Austin, Texas with a 66% female crew, led by Director/ Writer Melanie Notinger. Queer collaborators combined and informed the project, so it started as a love letter to radical queer storytellers who ferociously challenge norms of identity in their work.
Vital to the project was synth-glam-pop Austin native Benjamin Violet (frontman of PELVIS WRESTLEY) who wrote the score. And behind the scenes Melanie was influenced by the work of Joey Soloway (TRANSPARENT), Dee Rees (PARIAH), and Desiree Akhavan (APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR).
Melanie Notinger 'Through the making of Dress Code, I was unknowingly pulling apart and exploring my relationship to femininity, gender, and my queer identity. My queerness was deeply suppressed during my entire upbringing in Dallas. It took me until the end of college, in South Texas, to come out and despite being in a theater program with many queer colleagues, there was also religiously-fueled homophobia and ignorance to face. Even among those I considered friends.
It took moving to Brooklyn to begin examining and living truthfully in my nuanced identity. One step to me living authentically involved: questioning why I didn't feel like I looked queer enough, throwing my femininity aside, and eventually reclaiming a fresh femme identity. As soon this happened I started feeling restricted by labels. No single or two categories could introduce me. I just felt boxed in by them.
Part of being in the queer community is recognizing the dire importance of labels. I was compelled to investigate this duality with a hot-pink backdrop. The script poured out of me pretty much immediately upon my move to New York. Today, I identify with the following words: queer, bisexual, pansexual, she, they, femme. None of these words define me on their own and the list is always open for expansion xx'
Writer, Director, EP: Melanie Notinger @melanienotinger
Lauren Lane @officiallaurenlane
Tyler George @tylrgeorge
Producer, Performance Coach: Diane Meo @digitaldeedee
DP: Layton Blaylock
Editor: Tyler Byrnes @tylersbyrnes
Original Score Written & Performed by: Benjamin Violet (Pelvis Wrestley) @engage0o0with0o0jammy
Costume Designer: Madalyn Bond @madaleeeena