Why I was compelled to make this important documentary
Can a straight guy tell a gay man's story of discrimination and struggle in the state of Texas? That's the question I first asked myself when my producer Pepe Serna first approached me with the idea of directing this film. At that time, I was just wrapping up a feature-length documentary about seals, produced and narrated by actor and activist Edward James Olmos. In that film, I tell the seals' story of hardship and survival; the struggles they must endure and challenges they must overcome.
I first passed on the Jumper project thinking I wasn't the right choice to tell this story. After all, I'd been only directing nature documentaries for the last 10 years. What did I know about being gay or about being discriminated against? I had lived a pretty carefree life growing up in Southern California. At first I thought this project was only a gay rights issue. But the deeper I delved into Ben Workman's life, I quickly realized it was more a story about survival; fighting for the right to simply be who you are without the fear of retribution or alienation. In that context, Ben's story was no different than the story of my seals and struggles they endure. It's all really the same. That was the inspiration for telling Ben's story.
This is a very personal project for me and I'm hoping this film will speak directly to those individuals who still struggle to find acceptance for who they really are. I also think Ben is a very brave guy telling his story of pain and suffering on camera. But what's most inspiring is that he was able to turn his life around and find his real purpose in life; to promote peace and understanding though his art. Perhaps this film will help continue the conversation about equal rights.
Alan De Herrera
Director, DP and Editor