The gay couple in
charge

The gay couple in
            charge

When codirectors
and real-life partners Richard Glatzer and Wash
Westmoreland agreed to photograph their Los Angeles neighbor
Leslie Campos’s quinceañera (a celebration
in Latino culture in honor of a girl’s 15th
birthday and transition into womanhood), they didn’t
realize they’d be getting the inspiration for
their next movie in the bargain. “We were
amazed at the whole elaborate ritual,” recalls the
New York–born Glatzer, whose 2001 film with
Westmoreland, The Fluffer, was recently
featured in John Waters’s Here TV series Movies
That Will Corrupt You.
“Afterward I
said to Wash, ‘Somebody should make a movie of
this.’ ” Within weeks, they were doing
exactly that.

“We
thought of the idea on January 1 when we were
hungover,” says Westmoreland, who was born and
raised in the north of England. “We wrote it in
February, cast it in March, and shot in April.” Less
than a year later, the filmmakers walked off with both
the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize for Drama
at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. “When
you’re making a film, you allow yourself to daydream
what the most outrageous scenario is,” says
Glatzer, who has a number of new projects in
development with Westmoreland, including a film about actor
Errol Flynn. “It’s what we’re
living right now.”

Though
Westmoreland jokes that he and Glatzer “put the
‘co’ in codirecting,” the pair
claim they got along swimmingly during the shoot, even
while allowing their home to double for the gay
couple’s in the movie. “Our house looks
like some frumpy professor lives there, but it got
dressed up for the movie,” admits Glatzer.
“And I couldn’t find my eyeglasses for
months.”

“We had to
hire a guy to make our house look like gay people actually
lived there,” adds Westmoreland, whose past TV
projects include the specials Gay Republicans
and Totally Gay! “We tried to keep it
the same, but it’s going back to how it was, except
now we’ve got boxes full of pink flowers and
pink streamers. Lots of pink.”

In addition to a
street address, the 11-year couple shares something
else—they’ve both moonlighted at gigs with
massive gay male appeal. Westmoreland honed his
filmmaking chops directing acclaimed gay porn flicks
like Naked Highway and The
Hole
—“I’m proud of the work
that I did, but it’s not something I’d put in
the foreground when I’m talking to teenage
actors’ mothers,” he quips—and Glatzer
was one of the original shapers of the hit reality
show America’s Next Top Model. “I
was in charge of storytelling, basically, which informed my
sense of how to tell a story in film,” explains
Glatzer, who was able to score a free clip from the
show for a scene in Quinceañera—turns
out Magdalena’s a Top Model fan, just like her
real-life inspiration, Leslie. “One night, Tyra
came around to the house after we went to a
movie,” recalls Glatzer. “We knocked on
Leslie’s door at midnight, and she was like,
‘Oh, my God, it’s Tyra!’ ”

The pair like to
think of Quinceañera as a valentine to the
“colliding worlds” of the Echo Park
neighborhood where they’ve lived for the last
five years. “We saw the area gentrifying, and in a
way, we were the spirit of that, even though we never
wanted to be,” says Glatzer. “Making the
film really broke down walls. There was incredible openness
from everyone. It would have been so easy to say,
‘Why are these white boys making this
movie?’ but we never got that. We just got 100%
support. It was magical.”

“When
friends come around, we give them the
Quinceañera tour, and it’s amazing
how much has changed even since we shot the movie,”
adds Westmoreland. “The house that was
Magdalena’s house is being torn down, and
they’re putting up condos. It was like a moment in
time.”

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