Crazy8s: Director Rachel Rose's cross-dressing period piece "Tryst" based on a true story

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      Rachel Rose says her new short film, “Tryst”, tells a story that she’s wanted to share for a very long time.

      In a phone interview with the Straight, the first-time director acknowledged that for years, she didn’t think she had the resources to do the story justice.

      The first challenge was that it was a period piece, set in 1979. Secondly, it revolves around a husband who feels compelled to cross-dress outside of the bedroom, which creates a great deal of angst for his wife.

      “It’s a story that’s super close to my heart,” Rose told the Straight by phone. “It’s based on a true story about a couple that I know.”

      She pointed out that it was virtually impossible to be a cross-dresser in public in the late 1970s and early 1980s. According to her, the only spaces where this could occur in most communities “were really hidden, on the outskirts of town”.

      Moreover, it wasn’t safe—there wasn’t even popular vocabulary to discuss nonbinary gender expression or gender identity.

      “Back then, it was still very much a disease…a mental-health issue,” she said.

      Rose works full-time as a first assistant director in Vancouver. But it wasn’t until she was greenlit by the jury at the Crazy8s film festival that she was able to make “Tryst”. The six Crazy8s filmmakers have only eight days to complete their productions.

      Those who make the final six receive financial assistance and other forms of support from the festival, which is backed financially by B.C. film unions, Creative B.C., Telefilm, and others associated with the industry.

      Rose credited her cowriter, Shayn Walker, for giving her the courage to make :Tryst".

      Walker also stars as the husband, Marcus, opposite Anesha Bailey, who plays Dina in this deeply emotional drama.

      “He pitched himself as Marcus,” Rose said. “And as soon as he said that, I said, ‘Okay, I can do this.’ ”

      Shayn Walker (right) cowrote the film in addition to playing Marcus.

      Rose self-identifies as a “cis gay woman”, and her partner, Belén Garcia, worked as the director of photography. This offered some advantages, given the compressed shooting schedule.

      That's because normally, directors and directors of photography have to "make really structured times to chat about the film", Rose said.

      But because they live together, their whole lives were consumed by "Tryst" for months, so they had plenty of opportunities to discuss how the film should be shot.

      "We learned a lot about each other, the kind of stories we want to tell, and the kind of spaces we want to create on film sets," Rose said. "It was fantastic."

      It’s extremely important for Rose to tell authentic queer narratives.

      She also wanted to ensure that BIPOC people were not only in front of the camera but were also working on set.

      “The tagline for the film is straight people doing queer things,” Rose noted. “It’s really interesting to try to blur the line between straight narratives and queer narratives…I think that’s where the conversation needs to go. So I think 'Tryst' does that.” 

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      The film was shot at the Pink Palace in Surrey. And she credited the Crazy8s festival for helping the crew out with "really solid COVID plans".

      "We really, really had to make sure that we were following the guidelines super strictly and keeping everybody safe," Rose said.

      She's looking forward to putting "Tryst" out on the festival circuit. At this point, she has no plans to turn it into a feature-length film.

      "I think it leaves the audience wanting more, but it is really well wrapped up in that it feels like a short [film]," Rose said. "There's just not that many films on this topic."

      Video: Check out some images that have appeared in Crazy8s-produced films over the past 21 years.