During the Tribeca Film Festival, I had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Actors Quinn Shephard, Owen Campbell, Melanie Ehrlich, and John Gallagher Jr. at the red carpet of “The Miseducation of Cameron Post”.
John Gallagher Jr.
Rendy Jones:: Can you please talk about your character in the film and what he’s all about?
John Gallagher Jr.: Yeah, I play Reverend Rick, who is a youth pastor at “God’s Promise” which is the conversion camp that’s featured in the film and uh, he is a man that does believe that he has been cured through this therapy, and through prayer, that he had same-sex attraction and was gay and now feels that he has conquered that. And that’s why he’s teaching all of the kids the lessons that he’s learned. I think, ultimately, through the film, you start to learn that he may or may not actually have such strong convictions or strong beliefs as to what he’s preaching.
Rendy Jones: Uh, there is, an amazing scene you share with Moretz, um, towards the third act of the film where it is that speech of “you don’t know what you’re really doing”. Um, how did it feel to do such a powerful scene like that?
John Gallagher Jr.: Well, I mean, I was really lucky to have a scene partner like Chloe. Like, she’s a fantastic talent and having someone like Desiree leading us through that scene… We were in very, very capable hands. The scene just broke my heart when I read it. I’m so… It was an honor to get to bring it to life. It’s daunting to do a scene that’s kind of very vital in that sense, where you’re like, oh, I hope I get this right. But it was a gloomy, cloudy, rainy morning when we shot it. It was the day after election night. So, everybody was feeling pretty sad, so I didn’t really have too much trouble getting to a very strong place on that day.
Rendy Jones: I think everybody has had that day right after.
John Gallagher Jr.: It was very surreal to wake up and say, what do I have to do today? Oh right, THIS SCENE. Okay, well, no problem. I got it. Let’s do it.
John Gallagher Jr.: Not to say that the scene was about something that it is, because we did really want to stay grounded in the story and just telling a story, which is a man that’s believed something for a long time suddenly realizing that he has no clue what he believes. And I think we’ve all had any kind of crisis of faith or some kind of second guessing about something that we thought was true. I’ve certainly had that in my life. So it wasn’t difficult to tap into that.
Rendy Jones: Speaking of which, how this was shot over the same duration as the election, how did it feel doing this amazing story that centers on gay conversion therapy when our current state is well in the place that it is at now, where we have a vice president who’s all for that?
John Gallagher Jr.: To be quite honest with you, I was really thinking about that too much when we started filming the movie. It wasn’t until the election went the way that it did that I feel like we all realized that we didn’t feel like we were making a protest film and we just wanted to tell the story. But I do think that, given the current climate, you can’t help but kind of embrace the fact that the film is going to have a different– a different type of meaning now and a different type of significance. And I think we’re happy to have it raise the awareness and keep that conversation going. I think, you know, you don’t always get to make a difference with a film or with a piece of art. Anytime that you can raise awareness and get people talking about something, that is massively important.
Rendy Jones: Your character pretty much kicks off with the entire plot of the movie. How was it filming scenes with Chloe Grace Moretz?
Quinn Shephard: It was great, it was really fun. It was a very relaxed set. It was a very intimate and calm way of running things. Everyday on set almost felt as if the crew was invisible when we were shooting. We really felt as if we were alone in a room with an actor. I think we just had a good time and had a sense of humor about everything and kind of made an awkward way to meet someone more comfortable.
Rendy Jones: How was it watching the movie the first time at Sundance and what do you expect to get from watching it the second time?
Quinn Shephard: I was like, very emotional and cried just because it’s a very touching and important subject matter. It was very powerful seeing it with an audience. Honestly it’s been a few months. So I’m just excited to see it again and enjoy it.
Rendy Jones: How do you want this movie to impact the LGBT community?
Quinn Shephard: What I think for me, I think what’s so important besides just seeing representation of yourself in films, besides just bringing attention to things like conversion therapy while it’s still going on, I think it’s very important to have movies that are fun and enjoyable and can be sad but that’s not all. You know that it’s not just hopeless, that there’s hope and there’s friendship and there’s humor in a movie that has representation and has real characters. I think it’s so important for young LGBT youth to be able to see something like that and be like, oh, I see myself in her. I think it’s very important. I’m really excited for everyone to see this.
Rendy Jones: So, your character pretty much in every scene is singing her heart out. How did it feel having to pretty much sing nearly every scene you had in the movie?
Melanie Ehrlich: This is the first film I’ve worked on where I got to sing in it, and music is really, really important to me so it was a cool opportunity to have. It was a little bit daunting to be singing what I’m singing in the film. I don’t want to give it away, but the song I sing is very much out of respect with shoes I don’t see myself quite being able to fill, but it was fun like the rest of the filming was.
Rendy Jones: So, since your character loves music and was a church girl, um, what are your favorite tunes that you usually listen to?
Melanie Ehrlich: So I’m actually really into, um, this is very kind of random. I’m really into this West Australian radio station that I discovered based in Perth right now. I love world music so my favorite band ever is a Japanese rock band. My two favorite bands are Japanese rock bands. But I’ve been listening to vocal Perth artists lately and there’s some amazing music coming out of Perth that I’m finding on this radio station RTRFM. Look it up and you won’t be disappointed.
Rendy Jones: Is it on Spotify?
Melanie Ehrlich: I don’t know if it’s on Spotify. They have playlists of some of the songs on Spotify but RTRFM.com.au. They didn’t send me here to say that, I just love that radio station.
Rendy Jones: It’s okay. I’m always trying to find new music anyway. Yeah.
Melanie Ehrlich: Perth is a really isolated city so I think they have to amuse themselves because it’s not as easy. No, there’s some amazing, fantastic– not just singer-songwriters, but bands.
Rendy Jones: What do you hope audiences will take away from this?
Melanie Ehrlich: I hope they see this issue. Well, first of all, I hope they see this issue period because not a lot of people even know what gay conversion therapy is, let alone that it’s a thing that even exists. Let alone how widespread it is. I wish I knew the number. It’s either nine or ten, but it’s only illegal right now in nine or ten states, and it should be more than that because it’s a really, really damaging process. So, if nothing else I hope at the very least it brings what this is to life so that people can understand better.
Rendy Jones: What was the most– what was the best moment you had on set with the director and all of these– this great ensemble cast?
Melanie Ehrlich: Honestly, filming the scene where we sing “What’s Going On” that was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had on any set ever. But, just getting to have fun and goof off with people that I got to know and spend some time with. Just letting loose like that, yeah, that’s up there I’m sure.
Rendy Jones: Can you please talk about your character in the film?
Owen Campbell: Well, my character’s named Mark and I think he’s someone who really struggles with feelings of shame to an extreme extent.
Rendy Jones: There is a moment that happens in the third act where your character does something very huge. Uh, can you please talk about how it was filming that scene?
Owen Campbell: It was really a lot of stress leading up to that moment because, you know, it’s a really brief moment, but it has a lot of who Mark is and a lot of what happens in that feels like a genuine moment and I was really worried about it. But Desiree really put me at ease and made me feel so safe going into that day and safe going into that room. And so it was just a pleasure to play. We got the first few takes and she was happy with those.
Rendy Jones: What was the most fun experience you had onset?
Owen Campbell: It’s always lovely to all live together. Makes you feel like you’re camping while you’re acting. So to have us all shooting and living on the same location really allowed the film to have an honest quality. It wouldn’t otherwise have.
‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post” comes out in theaters August 3rd in NY & LA.. Check out my review here!
When teenage Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz) is caught having sex with another girl on prom night, she is shipped off to God’s Promise, a middle-of-nowhere treatment center run by Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle) and “success story” Reverend Rick (John Gallagher, Jr.). They subject her to dubious gay conversion therapies—but, despite these “treatments,” Cameron eventually forges a community with her fellow teens, quietly defiant Jane Fonda (Sasha Lane) and Adam Red Eagle (Forrest Goodluck). Together, these misfits play at recovery, since their only way out is time.