Letter from an Artist: Brandon English
Happy Filipinx-American History Month!
Today I give gratitude to my ancestors who brought me to this country and to other Filipinx/Filipinx-American artists who want our stories to be seen and heard. Today I invite perseverance and courage to be honest and innovative. Today I speak from “puso” (Tagalog for heart).
During the first part of the pandemic, I felt limited with my work and felt discouraged to create. Days would go by and all I would do is eat and watch “Friends” on Netflix. I found myself scrolling up and down Instagram looking for some sort of stimulation; I was numb towards reality and lived in a digital world. I was not doing what I wanted with my life, and I cut off my identity as an artist.
From the grace of God and Universe, my inner Cher said, “SHNAP OUT OF IT!” All of a sudden I found myself acting out monologues in my bedroom and joining WERQ (an online writing community). Then I started to think of these times as a black box theatre. There are spacial limitations of a black box theatre, but also opportunities to expand the imagination and to create magic. This was the Genesis of my short film “Bakla.”
“Bakla” centers around a queer Filipinx-American character who has to deal with the anxieties of having to reconnect with his family by greeting his grandmother happy birthday. The film follows a stream of consciousness as the character meditates to get through his panic attack. His inner world is displayed through images of turmoil balanced with kaleidoscopic symbols of queerness. It was through this film, I was able to re-connect with myself and be vulnerable through my art. There was no time to wait, and I ended up shooting and editing the film with my roommate within 7 days. The film was so raw and honest that I was scared to share it with others, but my friends encouraged me to do so because they felt that it would impact other folks’ lives. Then I remembered something Patrick Starrr said during one of his YouTube makeup tutorials, he said, “If you open yourself up to the world, the world opens itself up to you.”
I am proud to say that “Bakla” has been circulating the film festival circuit. It has screened with Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Scotland Queer International Film Festival, NewFilmmakers Los Angeles, and many more. It will later screen in London at the Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Festival in November!. It is through these festivals, I’ve been able to digitally connect with other POC and Queer artists from around the world during these tough times.
What am I up to now?
I am acting in a social distanced devised theatre piece called “MARCH” with Playwrights’ Arena and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. All of this takes place in a Parking Garage where cars can park and tune in through their radio.
I am co-producing Q Youth Foundations’ annual “East Side Queer Stories Festival.” We’re going digital this year!
I am writing my next short film, which will be a musical.
During these times, I invite you all to keep having hope, keep creating, and to vote!
If you want to continue following my creative adventures, you can follow me on Instagram @BrandonUniverse or check out my website: brandonenglish.net