The Spotlight Podcast: Telling Your Story on Screen

Director Simon Wegrzyn joins us to talk about LGBTQ+ storytelling.

In this episode of The Spotlight Podcast, we talk to filmmaker Simon Wegrzyn about telling LGBTQ+ stories on screen. Simon talks us through his experience as an actor and director, and we delve into some of the pressing issues for performers who are also members of the LGBTQ+ community, including should you be 'out' to your agent? 

37 minute listen or the full transcript can be found below.

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Episode Transcript

Christina Carè: Hello and welcome to this episode of The Spotlight Podcast. My name is Christina Care. I work at Spotlight and today, we are talking about telling LGBTQ+ stories with Director Simon Wegrzyn. Simon made the film Hold Hands or Hide about his own experiences as a gay man and we're going to talk all about how you do storytelling on film and in TV, as well as how you can get your story out there. So tips about festivals and that sort of thing. We also discuss some of the meatier topics, such as whether or not you should be out to your agent and what authentic casting really looks like. So take a listen.

Simon, thank you so much for joining us on The Spotlight Podcast.

Simon Wegrzyn: Thank you.

Christina Carè: Thank you.

Simon Wegrzyn: I'm really excited.

Christina Carè: Me too. This is your first podcast. You tell me.

Simon Wegrzyn: Yeah. This is my first podcast. I listen to lots of podcasts, but this is my first one.

Christina Carè: I'm glad we could be the first.

Simon Wegrzyn: Yeah. This is great.

Christina Carè: I'm really excited about this episode because we're talking about lots of different things, directing, storytelling, and LGBTQ+ issues in the industry. And so, before we get into all that meaty stuff, I just want to start with you. And how did you become interested in directing?

Simon Wegrzyn: Okay. I was an actor for years. I graduated 2004. 2005. I'll say 2005. And yeah, I was an actor for many years and had a lovely time doing it. And I had some really wonderful opportunities but there was just something that didn't feel right. And I was definitely one of those actors who kept saying, "Why? Why? Why?" And there were directors who welcomed that, and there were also directors who wanted me to zip the lips.

Christina Carè: Shush.

Simon Wegrzyn: And I very quickly realised that actually, I wanted to be the one behind the camera or directing the actors, whether that's theatre, TV, or film. Making artistic choices and making creative choices and inviting people into that environment. I've met some lovely directors, one in particular, a female director called Bex Rycroft. And I met her maybe two, three years ago, not long at all. And her support was just utterly invaluable. Just saying, "You can do this. You'll be great at this." And at the same time being at the end of the phone and talking to me about camera lenses and talking to me about how I should work myself on set.

So having someone like that on the end of the phone is utterly valuable and I can't thank her enough for that. And there are many other people who've been mentors for me. There's something about TV and film that really captures my imagination and captures my heart. And I love that I'm creating pictures and thinking about the audience and thinking about what they specifically see.

Christina Carè: Yeah, for sure.

Simon Wegrzyn: Whereas with theatre, the beauty of theatre is you can look anywhere, and I love that, but at the same time, I like to get closer to the action and closer to the story.

Christina Carè: Right, there's a specificity about.

Simon Wegrzyn: Yeah. And I can draw the eye in that way. I'm still emerging. I'd still call myself a novice. It's only really been the last year where I feel like I am a director and this is what I do and this is what I will do.

Christina Carè: I want to ask you a bit more about that changeover point, because obviously coming from an acting background, you've got... Well, you've got an insider view about how you deal with people on set or what the actor's point of view is. But in terms of all that technical stuff, like you mentioned lenses and whatnot, what was that process like for you? Did you have to massively upskill? Or what was that learning process like?

Simon Wegrzyn: I sort of had to go back to school again, I didn't actually go back to film school or anything. I feel that communicating with actors is something I can do very well. Yeah. As you said, the technical side, that's extremely scary. I know my shot sizes. I now know a good many lenses and lingo and things like that. And working with the DOP, working with the producer, working with the sound department, working with the production department, the art department. There's so many departments.

And there was a period when I just sort of allowed myself to be the ultimate collaborator and just invited people's ideas to learn that way. And now I'm tweaking it where I am absolutely a collaborator, but I'm able to dictate the directions that I might want to go in a little bit better. But yeah, the technical stuff was very difficult and I had to go on YouTube a lot, read books. And I'm still learning. I'm about to do another course at Raindance that is specifically about the camera. Because as I make more films, I want to get more adventurous.

Christina Carè: Of course. Yeah.

Simon Wegrzyn: I'm about to make my next film and I would love to shoot that on 35 millimetre. But that will mean I can go back into a theatrical environment I guess and rehearse with the actors until the moment they step in front of camera. So, yeah. I'm still learning about camera and I'm really excited about that.

Christina Carè: Yeah, definitely. I think that's a really interesting point for anybody listening. I know that lots of our actors do take up cameras or try out other roles like directing or producing, etc. So I think that's really valuable.

I want to ask you something about your bio for a second. So on your website and in your bio in general, you describe yourself as someone who uses your art to make positive change. I just want to know what you mean by that. What do you mean by positive change?

Simon Wegrzyn: I feel like in the world at the moment, there are a lot of pillars. Whether they are heteronormative pillars, whether they are misogynist pillars, homophobic, transphobic, against any sort of gender fluidity. Aanything like that really. And I feel like we are making progress. I have to take myself out of London to see the real state of affairs. In London we are in a beautiful, for the most part, in a beautiful, liberal bubble.

Christina Carè: So true.

Simon Wegrzyn: And I find when I leave London, I am continuously calling people up and it gets me really emotional actually. I constantly call people up on sexist words, racist words, transphobic words, homophobic words, and it really grinds my gears. And I'm calling it out so much that I'm just left in despair, going, "Why? Why are people still...” We're in 2019, why are people still saying these words and not considering the wider community and the beauty of that community?

So, I'm only setting out on my journey is as a director, but my aim is to create work that smashes down those last pillars and creates positive conversation and positive change. I think certainly with gay storylines at the moment, and they've been really important, but it's been a lot about coming out or the hardships of being gay. And while I think that is incredibly important, it's now time to push past that slightly. Those stories are not invalid at all. They still need to happen, but how can we push past that?

And it's not about the person being queer, being gay, being lesbian, being trans, being non-binary, being asexual, pansexual, whatever that might be. It's just about them being human and their story is valid and whatever that story is, we're not focusing on their queerness, we're focusing on the story and they just happen to be queer.

Christina Carè: Yeah. I think that's such an interesting and important point. We have held diversity forums and talks, and often what comes up as a point of frustration, particularly for actors, is that that role will finally come along, a lesbian role, a gay role, whatever it might be. And it's about trauma.

Simon Wegrzyn: Yes.

Christina Carè: And not much else, which is obviously a really deep and important topic to look into, but that's it. So I totally get what you're saying there. It's not just coming out, all the sort of traumas that go with coming out and that sort of storyline, there are other storylines as well that could be pursued.

Simon Wegrzyn: There's so many more. The trauma is important, hate crime against the community has surged nearly 80% since 2016.

Christina Carè: Particularly with Brexit, yeah.

Simon Wegrzyn: As soon as Brexit happened, it surged, it skyrocketed.

Christina Carè: Absolutely. It's horrifying.

Simon Wegrzyn: And so, I think of stories of those, there were two boys on the Jubilee Line coming back from a gig at the O2 and they were dressed to the gods and just living their unicorn fantasy and they had glitter on and they were living their best life and surrounded by lots of people who were at the same gig. And they shared a kiss on the tube and were both strangled and put in headlocks and forced to apologise for being queer and being femme and enjoying that identity. So, it still goes on. It still goes on.

Christina Carè: Even in London.

Simon Wegrzyn: Yeah. And it's worse elsewhere. I go to my hometown or I go up north and take yourself away from Manchester or Liverpool or Birmingham and go somewhere that is not a city and it's even worse.

Christina Carè: Yeah, for sure. What do you think it is about film, then, or filmmaking that is a particularly good vehicle for telling these stories? Is it more free to play or explore tough storylines?

Simon Wegrzyn: Yeah. I think you can really get into the grit, but also its accessible. I've got a film at the moment could Hold Hands or Hide and-

Christina Carè: Yes. I've seen it. It's beautiful.

Simon Wegrzyn: Thank you. That was based on my experience. What's been incredible about that film is, if I want to, and I'm being very careful about where I place it, but if I wanted to, I could whack it on YouTube, I could whack it on Vimeo. I could even whack it on Facebook. The reach that it has online is huge. It's currently on Amazon Prime, which is a brilliant platform because that's on Amazon Prime UK and Amazon Prime US. So actually that's going out even further.

Whilst I love theatre, theatre is very much set where it's been made. If it's London-made, it's performed in London. And yes, people can come and see it, and yes, it can go on tour. And don't get me wrong, there are theatre shows that absolutely bring in huge wide audiences, but there's something about film and TV that, for me, goes a little bit further. And maybe, just maybe, my little film about two queer people who get abused might just reach someone in Alabama or Peru. And actually, it did. It reached a non-binary-identifying creative in Peru who set up a preview in a film festival called OutfestPeru. And they contacted me and said, "We'd really like to present this film here because LGBT rights are down the drain." And when that happens, it's quite an unbelievable moment because you're like, "This small film that I made in Forest Hill in London on £500 has reached someone-"

Christina Carè: Across the world.

Simon Wegrzyn: Yeah. It's amazing. So that's why I focus on film and TV. It's got a further reach. And if I want to tell stories that knock down those pillars, then we want to get as far as we can.

Christina Carè: Can with it. For sure. I wanted to ask you about your film as my next question, actually. You've preempted me, but I wanted to ask you about Hold Hands or Hide because it's a very emotional story and it's about quite a traumatic event and dealing with that. I just wanted to ask you a bit more about the motivation. I know it was based on real events, but would you be able to talk us through that process a bit? How did you take what happened and turn it into that film?

Simon Wegrzyn: Yeah. It first came about, I was having a conversation with my fiancé and he said to me, "I really want to hold your hand in public." I had kept it very deeply rooted in my body so it didn't really come out, but down deep in there, there was this person saying, "I police myself." And I perform this kind of policing mathematics as I leave my house and I go, "Right, there's a pub there and there's four very butch men standing outside with pints, very drunken. I'll cross the street or I'll change the way I walk." Things like that. And it sounds really silly, but I would really police myself. And there are times when I could hold his hand if I was in Old Compton Street, but even then I always just felt like people were watching me. And people maybe are. Bbut a lot of the time people aren't. But just in my head psychologically, there was something just saying, "You are being watched. You are being watched."

I spoke to a lot of queer people and I said to them, "What are your thoughts on this? What are your feelings?" And the amount of people who came back to me saying, "I cannot hold hands with my same-sex partner or my queer-identifying partner. It's too challenging. Too challenging." I've got a friend, and he was in the film actually, Kevin Grogan, he's a beautiful actor, beautiful actor, and also an impeccable drag queen. But sits both the Kevin persona and the drag persona, called Veronica Green, actually, it's more female impersonation, but it's actually more than that. I think there's a fine line between gender fluidity there. And actually, it's wrong to go, "That's Kevin and that's Veronica." Actually, they are the same person, it's blending. And I was really inspired by people like Kevin.

And I've got friends who proudly walk out into the street wearing make-up and expressing themselves in fantastic ways, but each of them finds it difficult at times to push through that and to say, "Up yours," to those pillars that have been created. It's difficult.

Christina Carè: Yes. One thing I was wondering about it is that kind of responsibility, of taking something quite real and quite raw. What do you feel the responsibility is? How do you handle that kind of pressure, I guess, to faithfully represent an issue? Is it important that the storyteller is you, someone who is of the community and has actually experienced that? Do you think that's kind of a key part of it?

Simon Wegrzyn: Yeah, I do think that plays a part. Yeah. I think it's very important actually. I came up with an idea about a genderqueer child and how the parents navigate their child in this world as a child who identifies as genderqueer. And I sat there and I was talking to my fiancé and I was saying, "Yes, I have this idea, but I'm not sure I'm the right person to direct this."

I'm a gay man. I identify as queer. Telling the story that you identify with is really important. You have a unique perspective, the unique voice to channel that story and to push it forward. So I do think it is important, but at the same time, I am a feminist and I'm directing a film later on in the year where the central character is an elderly female. And I wanted to do that film because you don't see enough strong female representation, let alone an elderly female represented in a strong way. There's an amazing scene, I won't talk too much about it, but it explores her sexuality. She's in her 70s, 80s.

Christina Carè: And that too is quite rare. Yeah.

Simon Wegrzyn: Yeah. We're in such a youth-obsessed culture. So I think it is important to be part of that community. Actually, if you're an ally as well, then if it feels right and you feel that you can bring a voice to that, then absolutely, you should.

Christina Carè: Yeah. I want to, not to be provocative here, but I just want to know then, if you are telling stories that you strongly identify with, do you feel that that is in any way limiting long-term in terms of writing what you know? Do you think it's okay then to sort of... Artistically, how does that feel to you?

Simon Wegrzyn: Yeah, no, absolutely. And I've thought about that a lot, which is why I've been working on making my own stuff. I think there's a little part of me that says, "Yes, I'm going to be this radical new voice and the work will come." But yeah, no, it will be limiting. Don't get me wrong, if someone came to me and said, "Will you direct this horror film?" Of course I would, because I love horror. But what I would try and do is question the characters and their identities and experiment with the casting. So as long as I can put my stamp in there somewhere.

Christina Carè: Yeah. There are other topics and things to explore.

Simon Wegrzyn: For sure. For sure.

Christina Carè: Yeah. You mentioned casting just then. And I wanted to ask you about this because, again, another topic we talk a lot about is authenticity in casting. And so having, if it's an LGBTQ+ character, having someone of the community play that part, how important is that for you personally? Does it have to be a gay man playing a gay man? Or what do you think?

Simon Wegrzyn: I think it's super important. I think there's been a lot of talk about this recently, gay men playing the straight lead. And whilst there are a lot of actors who do that, there are a lot of actors being discriminated against because they might be slightly femme or they're not quite the look of this straight heroic lead. So in a way, I think any of these queer roles, absolutely we should be opening up to the community.

That's not to say that, I don't know, say I was doing a film about two men who are married and maybe going through a divorce. I absolutely wouldn't rule out heterosexual actors. I'd be interested in what they could bring to it and why they wanted to come into it and what their unique perspective would be. Yeah. But I absolutely think if there's a trans storyline or a non-binary storyline, then we absolutely should be championing those talents and those creatives.

Christina Carè: Absolutely.

Simon Wegrzyn: There's a company at the moment on Twitter who I follow called The Queer House.

Christina Carè: Yes. We've had Queer House in, they're fabulous.

Simon Wegrzyn: Oh my gosh. They don't know me, I don't know them, but-

Christina Carè: Hello Queer House.

Simon Wegrzyn: Hello Queer House. I want to get to know them because what they are doing is extraordinary. It's been a long time coming and I'm so glad they're doing it. You look on their list of talent. It's so wonderful to see.

Christina Carè: Yes. For sure. And they kind of address that other level of what you were just saying, which is that part of the issue when it comes to casting authentically is a lot of actors don't want to actually reveal how they identify because they're afraid of that exact thing that, "If I am known to be a lesbian, will I ever get another straight part?" So that's another layer to that problem. Do you have any thoughts about that in terms of how... I mean, were you out as an actor? Did you make that known immediately? What would you say to others in that position?

Simon Wegrzyn: No, I was very closeted for a long time. Oh yes. No. I was closeted for a long time. And who was I fooling? I remember I was doing a Mark Ravenhill play in Manchester at The Lowry. And it was Citizenship and it was about a young boy coming out and I played the out and proud gay man in the second half of the play who seduces him and introduces him to the gay world. The entire cast were like, "You are gay, aren't you?" I'm like, "No. No, no, no, no."

And we'd go out to bars and I'd force myself to kiss girls just to prove that I wasn't. It was awful. But I was surrounded by very open, very liberal and wonderful actors who absolutely wouldn't have said anything, but there was just something in my head saying, "Don't tell them you're gay because it's going to freak out the lead actor who's straight, because he might think you're getting off on this. And it might freak out cast members." It probably wouldn't have, but-

Christina Carè: No, but I think there's that sort of thing in the back of actors' minds that, “I don't know how this is going to affect my position in this production.” And I think the other concern is future employability, really. I think that's the big thing, which is super tough.

Simon Wegrzyn: But I think there's something at the moment, sort of going back to our trans artists and non-binary gender queer artists. I saw a TV show recently where a trans male performer was playing a cis-gendered straight man. And that was amazing. It was amazing to see. And I'm so glad that that TV show did that.

Christina Carè: Yeah. And it doesn't always happen, but...

Simon Wegrzyn: No, it doesn't always happen, but I saw that on TV and I thought that that was a step in the right direction.

Christina Carè: Yeah. For sure.

Simon Wegrzyn: There's a show on TV at the moment called Pose, which I am obsessed with. Have you seen it?

Christina Carè: I have not. Everyone keeps telling me about it though.

Simon Wegrzyn: It's impeccable. It's impeccable. But we've got pretty much an entire cast of trans females and it's just incredible, but there's no reason why they shouldn't be playing straight female roles.

Christina Carè: Yeah, for sure. I want to take a step back about what you were saying earlier with getting the story out there and getting it heard. Do you have any advice, I mean, people listening to this might be wanting to tell their own stories, make their own films. Your film has ended up on Amazon Prime, as you said. Do you have any advice to people practically speaking about getting their stories out there?

Simon Wegrzyn: Yeah. I think first and foremost, just write it down. Write down your loose storyline, your beginning, your middle, and end. And then when you feel you've got that framework, start embellishing and just get it down on paper and just make it. The great thing now is, film festivals have got mobile phone categories. People filming on mobile phones. I went to so many film festivals and I was really shocked and delighted to see the mobile phone category. Because you had all these grassroots people going, "Hey, I can make stuff, but I've got no money to make stuff, but here you go."

Christina Carè: Yeah. "But here's my story anyway."

Simon Wegrzyn: Yeah. And they're making this story on their phone and they're editing on iMovie and they're going, "Done. It's done." So I think, write it down, make it yourself. But at the same time, there are directors out there, there are producers out there looking for work, looking for scripts. I'm looking for scripts all the time. That is an open call. If you have a script-

Christina Carè: If anyone wants to get in touch.

Simon Wegrzyn: ... please. Yeah. Please send it to me. I read scripts all the time and I love reading scripts.

Christina Carè: Yeah. Well, what for you makes for a good script? What's a good story in your... Are there qualities that you look for?

Simon Wegrzyn: Yeah. It has to be a unique story, a story that I feel has not been told before. We get a lot of carbon copies of the same story, which is not a bad thing, but we see a lot of carbon copies of the same story with a slight twist. I'm looking for those unique stories that come from unique voices that come from marginalised communities that speak to a wider audience and stories that educate me. Yes, I identify as queer, but I'm still educating myself because if it's taught me something, it's going to teach the wider audience.

Christina Carè: Others. Yeah. For sure. For sure.

Simon Wegrzyn: So yeah.

Christina Carè: In terms of festivals, do you have any practical advice about navigating those as an artist? Because I think... Well, I was just in Cannes last week.

Simon Wegrzyn: Amazing. How was that?

Christina Carè: It was lovely, but also a very-

Simon Wegrzyn: Terrifying?

Christina Carè: Terrifying. Yeah. And kind of, I don't know, it made me slightly uncomfortable. I'll be honest. I really enjoyed it, but there's so many tiers of who is allowed to do what, where there is an elite quality to it, right? It's Cannes. But it did make me feel like, "Oh, maybe I shouldn't be here," a little. That was the feeling I came away with. Like, "I am an imposter in this scenario." Do you have any advice to others in terms of what festivals they should try? Is there much value to them going first before they submit things? What do you think?

Simon Wegrzyn: Yeah, I think, and I've learnt this recently just by applying to festivals, and of course you make a film and you go, "Oh, I'm going to send it to all the BAFTA qualifying festivals and all the Academy qualifying festivals." And in your mind you're like, "Oh, I might just win that category." You actually might, you never know. But go on filmfreeway.com. They list every festival in the world. And it's incredible. And you get brilliant grassroots small film festivals. There's loads in London.

I went to one called Sunday Shorts and it's brilliant. It's very small. It's in a pub or a venue where there's a screen and there's maybe an audience of 40, 50. They play movies from emerging filmmakers. You can find something like that. Test out your film, test out the audience, test out being in a Q&A, because being in a Q&A is frightening because you get lots of questions and you might not be fully prepared for those, but it gives you that experience.

And then, I went to a fantastic film festival recently, the Bristol Independent Film Festival. That was at the Everyman Cinema, which is a beautiful cinema. And we won the Best LGBT Film Award. It was amazing. We got a beautiful trophy and had a wonderful time. Drank lots of Prosecco. And that was the closest I got to feeling like a bigger film festival. But then we went to Berlinale as well, which is a big international festival. And while that runs like clockwork, it's very terrifying. It's a worldwide audience. And I felt as though I wasn't ready for that yet.

I can get ready by building slowly and starting off with the smaller film festivals, then building up to places like Bristol, like Aesthetica which is in York. There's brilliant ones in Wales, Liverpool, Manchester all over the UK. And all you've got to do is get on a train and you can be at these festivals and watch them or show a film there. I made my film, signed up to Film Freeway, and then before I knew it, we had 25 official selections and we got 10 awards out of that.

Christina Carè: Amazing.

Simon Wegrzyn: If I can do that on £500, then yeah, anyone can do it.

Christina Carè: Yeah, for sure. That is excellent advice. I hope everyone wrote that down. I want to ask you, I feel like I kind of know what you're going to say here, but we had a question, which was about actors and their sort of position to make change. So you obviously talked about going to directing because you wanted to, I guess, own the story a little more, but do you think actors are able to make change as actors? Or are they just entertainers?

Simon Wegrzyn: No. Never entertainers. Never. I love actors. Oh my gosh. I love working with actors. They change my mind. They are imagination workers. So they're so much more than entertainers. Absolutely, there are jobs, and I love panto, but there are jobs when you get on stage and you're doing a panto and you dance and sing, but it's not just dancing and singing actually. You are telling a story and you are influencing a young person in that audience.

Christina Carè: Absolutely.

Simon Wegrzyn: There's a moment in Jack and the Beanstalk where they sell the cow. I've seen that done where they go, "Oh no, we're selling the cow. Oh no, it's really sad." And then I watched a Dame called David Ashley sell the cow and then sing, Smile. And David performed this song with so much emotion and I forgot I was in a pantomime. But then I realised, "Actually, this is pantomime. Pantomime is fun. And it's funny, but there should be moments of pathos. There should be moments that tell the story truthfully and connect to us." So actually, we're so much more than entertainers. You are always inspiring or changing the opinion of an audience member. And that is such a powerful tool. Actors are the people who push the message even further from the writer and the director or the producer's vision.

Christina Carè: Yeah, for sure.

Simon Wegrzyn: I love actors.

Christina Carè: Do you have any advice then for maybe a young actor who maybe they're unsure at this point of what... Maybe they're not sure what their sexuality is, but maybe they're more concerned about how their sexuality might hold them back. Do you have any advice for that, an actor in that position?

Simon Wegrzyn: It's very easy to say, "Be your authentic self." And it's not that easy. I would say, just try as much as you can to be proud of your identity, proud of your work, because there's no one like you. I think as an actor, you're told while you're training and when you're going out into the world, that there are actors who are like you and there's people who look like you and you're in a sea of faces. And whilst I think, yes, there will be similarities, actually, you are unique. You've got a unique voice. And the more you champion that, I do feel the doors will open. It's not easy. You've got to bang a lot of doors down.

I, as a director, still have to bang doors down. The doors are slightly ajar, but even then, the doors are answered and they go, "Have you got awards? How many films have you done?" And you're like, "Really? Should I have to reel off my CV?" And I feel like actors are in that position as well, unless you've been at the National Theatre, or unless you've been at the RSC, or you've been on E4 or you've been on the BBC. It's difficult to get in with those casting directors. But I think, be proud of yourself. Find that strength. Change that casting director's mind. Change that director's mind. Change that producer's mind. And if you have that belief, you might, not even you might, you will make positive change.

Christina Carè: For sure. For sure. And things are changing in general in the industry.

Simon Wegrzyn: They are.

Christina Carè: There is change coming.

Simon Wegrzyn: There is. It's there, it's on the horizon.

Christina Carè: It is. I want to ask you about Pride. And-

Simon Wegrzyn: It's coming up. I'm excited.

Christina Carè: It is coming up. Yes. Do you think it's still important and still has a positive impact?

Simon Wegrzyn: Definitely. Definitely. I think one thing that I feel Pride is doing now is it's expanding. And that expansion is really important. I heard recently, actually, this was in a school, there was a feminist group and they wouldn't allow a transgender female student into the feminist group because her experience wasn't authentically female.

Christina Carè: That's not feminism. Sorry.

Simon Wegrzyn: Exactly. Exactly. But that's why Pride needs to be there, because we're not just championing gay rights, lesbian rights. We're championing the trans rights, the queer rights, everyone's rights on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. There are people who go, "It's Pride. Let's party." I am absolutely one of those people, but at the same time, I'm there to talk and spread a message and I'm there to stand for all of those people who identify as queer, as trans, whatever that might be.

We need it. We need it. And it needs to keep developing and keep building, because also there's people in countries where it's illegal and we're marching for them and we're celebrating for them.

I think it's so important. It's more important now, I think, that our spectrum is widening.

Christina Carè: Yes. Our understanding is changing.

Simon Wegrzyn: Exactly. People are starting to educate themselves and that's.. for us to develop, we need to force more people to educate themselves. Yeah.

Christina Carè: On that note, Simon, where can we see you next? What are you planning to do next? Where can people get in touch with you?

Simon Wegrzyn: Oh, what am I doing next? Well, Hold Hands or Hide is on Amazon Prime.

Christina Carè: It is.

Simon Wegrzyn: UK and US. That's free to watch. So you can watch that. I'm about to go into pre-production on my next film called One Train at a Time. That's about male suicide, which is another subject I think that is really important to talk about. It's the biggest killer in young men up to the age of 35 - 40. And then I'm shooting a horror comedy later this year, but I can't say much about that either, but that is the film that has a central character who is the elderly female, which I'm really excited about.

Christina Carè: Right. People can look at your website or follow you on Twitter if they want to keep up to date.

Simon Wegrzyn: Yeah. Follow me on Twitter @SimonWegrzyn. Instagram, @simonwegrzyn. My website is simonwegrzyn.com. And look, there's a contact page. If you've got a script, send it to me because I need to make films. I need to make films.

Christina Carè: Fabulous. Thank you so much, Simon.

Simon Wegrzyn: Thank you so much. Thank you.

Christina Carè: Thanks for listening to this episode of The Spotlight Podcast. We hope you have a lovely Pride Month and if you have any questions about today's podcast, drop us an email at [email protected]. That's all for now from the home of casting.

If you have questions about this podcast, drop us an email on [email protected]. All our podcasts are available under 'SpotlightUK' on Spotify, iTunes and Podbean!