Beyond Representation: The Future of Producing LGBTQ+ Stories for Social Impact co-presented and curated with Outfest
LGBTQ+ representation has expanded across the film landscape in recent years. Enduring audience reach and cultural impact depend on amplifying queer-led narrative change with culturally responsive development practices on screen and behind the scenes for sustainable social transformation.
Whitney Skauge (They/Them)VP of Development and Marketing, Breakwater Studio
Whitney Skauge is an award-winning filmmaker dedicated to representation. They are Vice President of Development at Academy Award®-winning Breakwater Studios, dedicated to the craft of the short documentary. Their debut short film, produced by Breakwater Studios, premiered at SXSW and was distributed by LA Times Short Docs in 2021. Their films act as an extension of social and political activism with the hopes of helping audiences understand themselves and the world around them better.
Sav Rogers (He/Him)Trans Film Center/Forward Alum
Originally from Kansas, Sav Rodgers is a filmmaker and screenwriter whose work often centers on telling highly specific, surprising stories about queer people. He is the director/producer of Chasing Chasing Amy, a feature documentary about the complicated legacy of Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy (1997) among LGBTQ+ people and the profound impression on his own life. In 2018, Sav delivered a TED Talk on the subject titled, “The Rom-Com That Saved My Life.” His screenplay I Love You, Margot Robbie, co-written with Taylor Gates, was selected for The GLAAD List in 2022. His short screenplay Telethon: The Quest to Save Grease 2’s Reputation won the Grand Prize in the 2022 ScreenCraft Short Film Screenplay competition. In 2017, Sav graduated from the University of Kansas. He is an alumnus of the Outfest Screenwriting Lab, the Producers Guild of America’s PGA Create program, the TED Residency, and the Telluride Film Festival Student Symposium. Sav is the Founder and Executive Director of the Transgender Film Center, a nonprofit aiming to help trans creators bring finished films to audiences around the world.
Steph OuaknineProducer (Queering the Script, Camilla); Originals & Exclusives at Amazon/Wondery
One of Canada’s “5 to Watch in Entertainment,” Steph Ouaknine is an award winning producer and development executive well versed in queer stories and international co-productions.
Steph co-created and produced CARMILLA, the multi-platform scripted series that ran for 108 episodes and launched a global, engaged fan community. Financed by U by Kotex, the digital series topped 100+ million views, earning accolades from Cannes Lion, Rocky Awards, The Webbys, multiple Canadian Screen Award wins and MIPTV’s “Brand Content of the Year” 2018 Award.
Currently, she is a senior production executive on the commissioned originals team at Wondery and Amazon, managing a slate of premium audio documentaries and topical shows. Select credits: Time Magazine’s Podcast of the Year “9/12” in partnership with Pineapple Street Studios, “Persona: The French Deception” and scripted podcast “American Hostage” starring Jon Hamm.
Steph is a 2021 Film Independent Episodic Lab Fellow, with scripted projects supported by the CFC/Netflix Accelerator, The National Screen Institute, the IFP/Gotham Film Week and SeriesMania 2022.
Chester Algernal GordonProducer & Costume Designer (The Inspection, Pier Kids)
Chester Algernal Gordon is a producer, costume designer and stylist with a passion for making powerful stories that capture the imagination and inspire. They began working in film production in 2016, and since then Gordon has costumed three Lionsgate feature films, 17 short films, and has produced award-winning films that have played in festivals worldwide including the New York Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, BFI, Outfest, Reykjavik International Film Festival and New Orleans Film Festival. Gordon’s latest film, Elegance Bratton’s THE INSPECTION, starring Jeremy Pope and Gabrielle Union, will be theatrically released on November 18. The A24 film centers around a young homeless gay man who joins the Marine Corps to win back his mother’s love, but learns how to respect himself at bootcamp. Gordon co-runs the production company, Freedom Principle, alongside Bratton.
Gordon has produced numerous acclaimed short films and the 2019 feature documentary, PIER KIDS, which won a Truer Than Fiction award at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, Best Poster Design award at the Indie Memphis Film Festival, the Jury Prize at the Sarasota Film Festival, amongst other accolades. They are currently in post-production on the upcoming feature documentary, HELLFIGHTERS, which highlights the story of African American Jazz pioneer and music mogul James Reese Europe, who was a lieutenant in the 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the Harlem Hellfighters.
This self-taught Maryland native expertly straddles the world of high fashion and film. They were a producer for the MIPCOM 2018 winner, GLAAD-nominated documentary TV series MY HOUSE for Viceland. Gordon’s short, -SHIP: A VISUAL POEM, won best US narrative short at Sundance Film Festival 2020. They were named the winner of the Tribeca Film Institute’s 2019 TFI All Access Grant and TFI Pond5 Program and was a 2019 Film Independent Producing Lab & Fast Track Lab fellow. Their work as a stylist has been published in magazines such as Glamour, Galore, Esquire, and many others and they have worked with noted photographers Mick Rock and Pari Dukovic.
Martine Joelle McDonaldOutfest Director of Artist Development
Martine Joelle McDonald is a film curator and teaching artist with experience working at the intersection of the socially engaged imagination in film and artist impact for the last decade. She is currently the Director of Artist Development with Outfest.
Her work centers creative equity by facilitating paths toward thriving leadership, social and cultural transformation for artists. As a curator, Martine has worked with independent film festivals including Tribeca and Outfest. She facilitates narrative arts programming for community learning centering historically excluded voices in film on screen and behind the scenes for a more just, equitable world.
As a cultural consultant, Martine guides film productions and arts education programs to facilitate culturally responsive creative initiatives. Cultivating wonder is an act of justice. Her curatorial practice focuses on mindful international children’s content, LGBTQ+, and women and non-binary storytellers with particular care toward climate justice, anti-bias education, racial justice and conflict transformation.