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Outfest 2015: John Cameron Mitchell and Tig Notaro are star attractions at opening night gala

Opening night at Outfest is always such a stupendous evening with lots of excitement in the air.

A lot of that excitement this year had to do with the presence of John Cameron Mitchell was presented with the Outfest Achievement Award by actress Elle Fanning (she was adorable) for his work as the director of such films as Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Shortbus and Rabbit Hole.

‘I’m having a mid-life crisis award,’ Mitchell joked to the crowd at the Orpheum Theatre. ‘People who’ve won this are my heroes and people who I was looking up to in the early 90s when I was thinking of becoming a director -Todd Haynes, Gus Van Sant, John Waters – who were models of how to do things.’

He added: ‘Nowadays the term selling out doesn’t exist anymore because everybody is trying to make a living, that’s the way it is.’

He was acting in TV shows and films and remembers people telling him his project, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, was ‘career suicide.’ It went on to become a sensation Off-Broadway, a feature film, and is currently a red-hot revival on Broadway.

‘We’ve just got to do something that we love,’ Mitchell told the capacity crowd. ‘Do the other jobs, do the thing you love and by accident, the world changed in the interim and now I can pay my rent from that.’

The audience clapped its approval of Mitchell’s creative career approach.

‘If you go for the money first and try to think of what other people want to see, you change your original inspiration and perhaps put out something that’s less original and less personal and maybe less satisfying,’ he said. ‘It might possibly make more money but that’s a different issue.

‘If you’re stopping yourself by, in effect, selling out, which is thinking about what a billion people want to see as opposed to what you want to see and your friends want to see, you’re short-changing yourself.’

Mitchell also cautioned against seeking approval on the internet before your full vision is realized because trolls might discourage you with the comments. He said if he had shown early Hedwig online, he would have been buried because ‘it wasn’t that good.’

‘Don’t over-document it, do it in the dark. Best things happen in the dark.’

The evening was made all the more special because of the terrific opening night film, Tig, which tells the story of comedian Tig Notaro who carried on with her comedy despite battling cancer and another life-threatening illness plus the unexpected death of her beloved mother all in the same year.

Already a successful comic, Notaro became a sensation when she did a comedy routine about being diagnosed with cancer just a day earlier.

‘It’s very personal and I appreciate everybody showing up tonight,’ Notaro told the crowd. ‘It’s really remarkable to go from a time where you’re not even sure if you’re gonna live – several times – and then to have a movie made about my life and live to see it. It’s really something else.’

The film was introduced by her good friend, director Garry Marshall, who had fun posing with hon the red carpet.

Tig will premiere on Netflix on July 17 – don’t miss it!



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