Vera Drew and Gabe Dunn Talk ‘The People’s Joker’ and the Delusion of Creating Weird Trans Art

Vera Drew, the co-writer, director and star of The People’s Joker, is as funny, insightful, and impossible to sum up as her debut feature film.

Drew’s movie, a colorful trans semi-parody of Todd Phillip’s 2019 incel juggernaut Joker, is also a nuanced exploration of emotional abuse, a takedown of the bizarre trajectory of mainstream comedy’s obsession with trans people, and a moving portrait of the relationship between narcissistic mothers and their queer children — all wrapped in the world of DC Comics.

Drew plays Joker the Harlequin, a trans woman comedian in a world where the two genders are “Joker” and “Harlequin” and where comedy is illegal – unless you’re a cast member of Lorne Michaels’ United Clown Bureau (aka UCB Live!). Joker the Harlequin opens an underground anti-comedy club with her friend Penguin, falls into toxic love with a riff on Jared Leto’s Joker, and attempts to save Gotham from a Batman who is actually a closet case pedophile groomer. This might sound silly — and it is — but the film has more heart and pathos than most trans movies, especially any from the studios usually responsible for superhero movies.

The film was scheduled to officially premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival but was shuttered by DC for “rights issues.” Bans create buzz you just can’t buy, so this resulted in the hashtag #FreeThePeoplesJoker and a massive campaign to get the movie released under parody law. The Outfest screening I attended in 2023 had a line around the block. Drew was there dressed in a similar aesthetic to her character: white face paint, a big red lipstick smile, and red bow shaped space buns.

The People’s Joker is an ambitious epic from a singular, brilliant mind. It switches from live action segments shot on green screens to endless, meticulously animated parts seamlessly integrated into one cohesive piece. It’s an undertaking that Drew says nearly broke her brain.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Drew, who full disclosure I’ve hung out with in a social capacity, ahead of the film’s overdue freedom from movie jail.

Gabe: Are you just doing a ton of interviews today?

Vera: Yeah, I got excited when I saw you on the schedule though.

Gabe: Woo! Okay, let’s get into it then. I know technically the film came out in 2022 and then now it’s coming out again in 2024, but it was on my list of “Best of 2023.” So you really span the gamut.

Vera: Thank you!

Gabe: I’m serious. I’ve told so many people about it. I got brought to a screening by friends of Bri [LeRose, Drew’s co-writer on the film] who are both possibly among the cis-est and straightest people I know in my life. It’s actually unhinged that that’s who brought me to this movie and that I hadn’t heard of it. So let’s start at the beginning. What is your backstory as a filmmaker?

Vera: I mean, my first memory is wanting to make movies. I kind of remember wanting to be a scientist too at some point, but it was just because of Back to the Future, I was obsessed with Back to the Future as a kid. I have a flux capacitor [tattooed] on my arm.

Gabe: Oh my god. Vera. I found old homework from when I was in fifth grade that is signed “[dead name] J. Fox.” And I was like, “Why did my teachers let me do this?”

Vera: What is it about Michael J. Fox and that movie that is so trans?

Gabe: Because he’s just a man plucked out of time? He’s confused? Maybe because his mom thinks he’s a type of boy and he’s not that. I don’t really know. I was obsessed with him. He also was just very twinky and then I was so sad to find out that that movie was old and that he was actually a grown man. Deeply upset.

Vera: I’m glad it meant something to you too. It’s on my Letterboxd Top Four. I still say it’s my favorite movie, but it feels kind of embarrassing to say it just because it’s Back to the Future. I think I get in my head sometimes just about the pop culture that was there for me when I was a kid. It immediately outs me. I feel like a lot of the time my entire taste in film is very much like your older brother that smokes pot.

Gabe: Same. I have minimalist posters in my room and it’s Jaws, John Wick, The Matrix, True Romance. My friend Drew Burnett Gregory who set this up, she is also a film buff and so am I, but “film buff” means different things to different people. So she’s like, “Your taste is NYU freshman.”

Vera: Yes. I was going to say, I mean True Romance is basically a T4T Love story.

Gabe: Thank you. Thank you.

Vera: Alabama is canonically a trans woman, and Christian Slater in that movie is a trans guy.

Gabe: I agree.

Vera: Yeah. I mean my taste has always been very much in that college freshman genre space. I love art films too. In college I really got into Kenneth Anger and Maya Derren – and Tim & Eric too. I did comedy when I was a kid. I was a theater kid for sure, but I was a theater kid that was doing Second City bootcamp classes. I was a part of the pilot youth program at Second City and got burnt out on comedy at a really young age. I had a show, and had a sketch in their touring company before I was 18. So by the time I got out of film school and got to LA, I don’t know, I had reached this event horizon with creativity where I was like, I only want to make weird shit. But I also had nothing I really wanted to say, but thankfully I landed at [Adult Swim’s show] Tim & Eric. I was not fit for the industry when I moved to LA.

Gabe: What do you mean?

Vera: I was a junkie and I was also, I’ve heard a lot of people talk about it this way before, but I think a lot of people come to LA thinking this town is waiting for them. And I was definitely that. And I think over the course of a year and running out of money, I ended up being a PA on this Sofia Coppola movie The Bling Ring. It was setting up tables at 5 am and then getting fired on that job because I could never show up on time and I was a snooty little shit. I thought Hollywood was waiting for me, but it’s really humbling being a PA on the set of a Coppola movie. It quickly makes you realize, oh, actually I’m like a weird freakish artist. But thankfully, yeah, I mean I came into the Tim & Eric scene in that whole echo chamber of alternative comedy right at the perfect time, and that was my incubator really working on that stuff.

Gabe: Well, I think a show like Tim & Eric lets you know there’s no rules in a way. It’s funny how popular I Think You Should Leave is – it’s almost like Tim & Eric, but with a little bit of structure. I really enjoyed Tim & Eric in college, I think we – Well, how old are you? You’re my age.

Vera: I’m 34.

Gabe: Okay. Yeah, so we’re the same age. I’m 35, but Tim & Eric let me be like, oh, okay, you can just do stuff. You don’t have to make sure that everything pans out in a certain way. And so going to work with them, I feel like lets you say, okay, we can work visually however we want and we can make these things come together and still say something, but have it be whatever my brain is telling me it should look like.

Vera: Completely. It really makes sense to me why it spoke to our generation of artists in that way because it was the perfect, and for me personally, it was this perfect combination of pretty traditional sketch comedy structures — so much of their stuff is just like, look how big and tall and huge Eric [Wareheim] is and how small and angry Tim [Heidecker] is and that’s a hundreds of years old archetype — but it also was in this weirdo artist space. It was the perfect combination of sketch and improv and art film. It’s definitely the space that inspired me the most before even getting to work on stuff with them.

I got to work on a season of Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule and I was on set and there throughout post-production. That was probably where I learned the most about how to shoot on no budget and how to do it without burning out your crew. That set is just the most fun place. Because they were producers on IFC’s Comedy Bang Bang, I was an editor on that for four years and that show had a lot of those elements too. Every single episode I got to play in a new genre, which was so cool. I did a fake Friday The 13th thing. There was a Robocop parody. I feel like it was a space for me to really spread my genre wings and do it in a way too that’s aggressively weird and off putting.

Gabe: Do you think that there’s something inherently trans about anti-comedy?

Vera: Yeah, I think so. I mean, it makes sense to me why we’re finally seeing more trans people in those spaces. Look, I’m not going to lie. There’s a part of me that’s like, I wish! You fuckers, you’re so lucky!

Gabe: I’m also deeply bitter, so it’s fine.

Vera: But that’s also just part of being a comedian. It doesn’t bother me too much. I think all the friends I have from that world that are cis, they are able to be friends with trans people because they’re also kind of the freaks of society. I think having this entire community and this sort of general creative voice, it is such an asset to queer people. It’s why at the start of this conversation, you were talking about how the movie was on your 2023 list, but it kind of came out in 2022 and now it’s really coming out in 2024. That was nerve-wracking for me because I was so eager to be the first one to make a movie about alternative comedy. I was like, I can’t have this sitting on the shelf. I need this to be out there. I need this aesthetic to be out there and I need people to see also the inherent queerness to it because nobody’s ever really, I mean video essayists I think talk about it and stuff, but never in an actual creative cinematic space. And I really wanted it to get out there because it’s such a necessary part of telling the story of just where comedy’s been the last 20 years.

Gabe: Were you always going to star in it?

Vera: It’s weird. I mean, yeah, I guess. But I think when I started writing it, I didn’t really think about it that much because I was really intimidated by the prospect of it just because it’s so personal and so raw and so much of the movie is reenactments from my life and there’s a character based off of a very abusive ex-fiance that I had, and it’s about my relationship with my mom. I wasn’t super eager to dive into that as an actor and relive that stuff, but I don’t know. It was in the process of writing it with Bri and also I had a therapist at the time— I mean he wasn’t a licensed therapist. He was like a healer. But I had this healer at the time who was so encouraging about it. He was the first person to go, this sounds like really expensive therapy for you and I think you need to act in it. It also was just like, who else is going to do this? Who else is going to dress up like this version of the Joker? Who else is going to star alongside a trans guy playing a Jared Leto’s Joker parody? Also, we shot it in five days, which is fucking crazy. It was just like…

Gabe: You shot what in five days?

Vera: The live action stuff, all of that. Yeah, we shot it in five days. Everything was like… Penguin? Nate Faustyn, who plays Penguin? He was on set for less than two days.

Gabe: Vera. How is that possible?

Vera: I don’t know. I dunno how we did it! Honestly, it speaks to how fucking awesome the cast is.

Gabe: So dedicated.

Vera: So dedicated. Lynn Downey, who plays my mom, she knew all of her lines. I think I only had two takes each of her every single setup because that was all I needed from her. Nate Faustyn, who plays Penguin, of course, didn’t memorize his lines, but I knew that was going to be the case because I’ve been working with him for 10 years. But that was okay. That character’s based on him, so it was like, let’s just roll with it. And for me it was, I don’t even know. I never even sat down and memorized the script. I just knew it. I performed it and it was very therapeutic. It really was. I can’t stress enough how much mythologizing your life really is kind of the only way to get over trauma. Turning your worst ex into Jared Leto’s Joker is kind of like— they could teach a class on that in therapy school or wherever they go.

Gabe: Well, it’s interesting because you don’t make him out to be a complete villain. Yes, he’s abusive and yes, you’re saying he’s your worst ex and things like that, but at the end of the day, the way that you portray your ex Jared Leto’s Joker is with a lot of compassion.

Vera: There were a few reasons for that. The main one being the person it’s based on was very important in my life and was one of the first people I came out to as trans. And there’s this line we say in the movie a couple of times, “You were the first one that saw me, the real me.” And I feel like that as a part of the queer experience usually happens with somebody you’re not supposed to be with for very long.

Most queer art is trauma porn, but not enough talks about how the traumatic relationships we have can actually inform our identity and bring us to that level of who we are. So I really wanted to make something that kind of was not forgiving that person, but acknowledging the role they had in my life. I think the first draft of the script was probably a lot darker. Their relationship was a lot darker. But I wanted to also write a trans guy character that was not just a one-dimensional dick bag because I feel like there’s so much of that out there for y’all. And it’s nice now when I watch the movie, I’m so kind of divorced from the actual personal experience of it that when those two characters meet, I’m kind of rooting for them. I am like, oh, this is really sweet and cute and they’re so wrong for each other, but he’s a good guy and he’s going to figure his shit out.

It was the same with the mom character too. I have a really complicated relationship with my parents and coming out to them was traumatic and intense, and I wanted to be honest about that in the movie, but I also didn’t want the movie to just be a 90 minute fuck you to my mom. I really wanted to find the nuance in that and tell a story that, not necessarily had a happy ending, but had an optimistic and realistic ending for what the relationship between a mother and a trans daughter could be.

Gabe: Yeah, definitely. Were you always going to use the character of the Joker to explore these themes?

Vera: I mean, kind of the original idea was actually a body horror movie. I started writing this thing in 2019 that was kind of a Cronenberg meets Sam Raimi body horror cult movie thing. That was very much centered around a drag queen who was physically addicted to irony. She was physically addicted to it in this way that was fucking up her body. That was not really a comedy either. It was kind of just a really dark horror movie that I was writing. And pretty much the bones of that, or not even the bones of that, I think all the thematic stuff in that really ended up in The People’s Joker. Those were themes that I needed to explore because comedy had been so important to me in my life and informing my identity, but it also kept me in this state of “irony poisoning” where I was pretty detached from my own life. And I knew I was queer. I mean, I’ve known I was queer for most of my life, let’s be real. But even when I was not out, I was doing comedy that was very queer and very gender-fucky, and a lot of it was very monstrous. And I don’t know, I think comedy for me, yes, was this space where I could explore identity, but it was also high concept self-harm on some level. I don’t think it held me back, but I think I perpetuated my family trauma and my PTSD with comedy. And so that was really the movie I wanted to make. And then in early 2020, Todd Phillips was complaining about woke culture, as men should, because they’re being silenced.

Gabe: Yeah, I feel really silenced.

Vera: I’m surprised you transitioned just because now you will be silenced.

Gabe: You know what? I said this before that I do a lot of podcasts and I do a podcast with the cis straight girl who brought me to your movie. And I was thinking about it and I was like, so many podcasts that I love – the girl, she’s amazing. She’s so great. I love listening to her. The guy is, I dunno, he’s there. And now I’m like, oh my God, is that me? Am I the white guy on the podcast?

Vera: Well, you live long enough to become the villain.

Gabe: Literally a hundred percent.

Vera: So Todd Phillips was complaining about that and Bri LeRose, like me, is kind of, I don’t want to say I’m fed up with people talking about woke culture or whatever, because on some level I do get it. We do live in very reactionary times. I got soft canceled for saying that I used AI assisted tools on Twitter the other day.

Gabe: Oh my God.

Vera: It is a weird reactionary time. So I get where those conversations come from, but I don’t understand, and I think Bri, I don’t want to speak for her, but I think she also doesn’t understand the director of a movie that made a billion dollars saying that he’s being silenced by marginalized people because we don’t want Dave Chappelle making comedy specials about us or our fucking rights taken away.

So yeah, Bri commissioned a re-edit of his movie, and she did that right at the start of the pandemic. I had nothing to do. I was not getting hired to add fart sound effects to Scott Auckerman blinking his eyes anymore. So it was like, I guess I will reedit Todd Phillips’ Joker. And then the second I started doing that, I was like, I don’t know that I’m ever going to have the time to make a movie ever again, because we’re descending into this reality of “Will film exist?” So I’m going to just do it and I’m going to take all these ideas that I have for this other thing and I’m going to bring them to Bri, and we’re going to try to make a parody of Todd Phillips’ Joker and just the DC universe in general. But it’s a story that is a queer coming of age story that is about a trans girl finding herself and overcoming irony poisoning. It seemed like a nice wrapper for all that.

Gabe: That is so wild. I do this trans guy podcast and I mentioned briefly that I feel like Spider-Man is a trans guy, and then we have gotten so much mail about people being like obviously duh. Someone sent in Spider-Man fan art of Andrew Garfield with top surgery scars. I was having a very bad gender day and I went on Spotify and I typed in Andrew Garfield and it popped up a playlist I didn’t make – someone else made – called “Is Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man a Gender?” And I was like, what is going on? We all had the same collective thought. What is that about?

Vera: I mean, it’s weird because I do think it’s trite now, and I am part of the reason why it’s becoming trite because I say it in pretty much every interview, but I really do think it’s true that comic books are kind of the closest thing we have to myths. I guess there’s evangelical Christians, but there’s not an overriding religion or anything that’s a part of culture anymore in the way that there was in ancient civilizations and stuff. So I think on this kind of new age-y level stories really do have power. And when we tell stories, they exist outside of us in this kind of other dimension. And it’s fucking weird, spooky queer magic or something.

It makes sense to me on an academic level too. These are all characters that are inherently queer because there’s secret identities involved, there’s elaborate costumes, and also they’re social outcasts. I mean, that’s the thing that connects both Batman and Joker. They’re both people with a lot of trauma that are very much doing their own thing in society. And that’s very much the queer experience. Comics have always been a safe space for alternative ideas, and I think it’s just, like I said, it’s spooky queer magic or something. It’s in our DNA to be drawn to this stuff.

Gabe: What are you working on now or what ideally, now that you did this, do you want to do?

Vera: I am writing another feature right now. I haven’t said the title of it yet. I’m probably not going to for a while just because I’m a little worried somebody else is going to use the title first. But yeah, I’m writing. I took that body horror idea and sort of turned it into something else, and I’m pretty close to having the script done. I’m writing it with a company called Stellar Citizens, which is a Toronto based company. It’s fucking cool because I’ve never worked in a development space in film before. I’ve only heard bad things about it, but I’m working with people who are only making my idea better. And one of the EPs is a trans woman. Having the experience of getting notes on something I’m writing from somebody who has a shared experience with me is… I can’t describe how beautiful it is.

So I’m doing that and I’m attached to something else that I’ll hopefully get to talk about soon. That’s another really kind of fun genre movie. So yeah, I’m trying to make more movies and I also just edited a feature called Carnage for Christmas. That’s Alice Maio Mackay‘s new movie.

Gabe: I’m obsessed with her.

Vera: She’s fucking phenomenal. Alice has been making movies since she was 16. I mean, she might be what has healed any sort of ageist insecurity that I have about trans people being able to be more visible in art spaces. Because she’s Australian, she’s just so normal, and her movies are so fucked up and funny and have such a unique voice to them. And yeah, I was just creatively in love with her the second I met her, and I’m so stoked I got to edit her next movie. I can’t wait for people to see it.

Gabe: She’s so prolific. She’s just banging them out.

Vera: Three movies last year. That’s crazy.

Gabe: I’ve asked her! I’ve been like, I don’t understand. She was like, I don’t either. It’s amazing.

Vera: It’s a mental illness or something. Being a filmmaker is like, it really is. You know. There’s no rational person who does it. You’re borrowing money to finish ideas that people don’t believe in. It’s delusional. It’s crazy. And people like Alice, it’s always great when you meet them because they are like, yeah, I don’t know why I do this. I just have to. And that’s the shit I really relate to. It’s like, I don’t know what else I would be doing right now. It’s saving my life, making films.

Gabe: Who are the artists that you were working with on all the different segments of the film? I mean, when I watch it, I’m like, this is not replicable. How did you know this would all come together?

Vera: Again, it’s delusion, I guess. I remember on the script level when Bri and I were writing it, we’d reach a point every few pages where we’d be like, how the fuck are we going to do this? So we just wrote a Batmobile chase where the two characters are breaking up while it’s happening, and then the car crashes, and then it just devolves into a big fight in Gotham City with all of the Batman villains. What are we doing? How will we ever make this? But every step of the way, we were just like, we’ll figure it out. And I don’t know, I’ve always loved mixed media films. I love Natural Born Killers, I love early Michel Gondry stuff, anything that’s really kind of telling these bigger epic stories and is leaning into lo-fi sensibilities. I mean, Tim & Eric is also a perfect example. I’ve always been so drawn to that. So I think that’s why going into that as a process, I sort of knew that would work, and at least in theory, I guess we could find some sort of cohesive thing to this.

Gabe: People get it. It’s not like it switches to animation and I’m like, “Wait, who are these characters? What’s happening?” You get it.

Vera: I do think if I had made this 20 years ago or something, I don’t think people would get it, but our brains are different now in this way that we can process that. We’ve seen movies like this before where there’s animated sections and stuff like that, and I wanted to do that on a mentally ill level that was just like every single scene? The frame was loaded with too many jokes. So much of that came from the collaborators I worked with. The way I formed our team was I used to have a web series called Hot Topics with Vera Drew, which is the only web series with the express purpose of getting Vera Drew sponsored by Hot Topic. And it was just a desperate attempt to get sponsored by Hot Topic, for the record. They never sponsored me. And you know what? The door is closed now.

But on that show, that’s when I announced that I was making this movie. That was May 2020. And I was like, my friend Bri and I wrote this script, and if you’re an artist or an animator, an actor, and you want to help us make a really gay Batman parody, come on board. And a small army of people immediately came out of the woodwork. I woke up the next day to just an inbox full of artists and animators. Again, kind of an intimidating prospect. I would say 90% of the people who worked on this movie aren’t filmmakers, nor did they have aspirations of being in film.

A perfect example is Paul McBride, who did a handful of sequences that required 3D modeling and 3D animation. We made an entire 3D model recreation of Joaquin Phoenix’s apartment in Joker that is modified to fit Joker the Harlequin’s taste and stuff. But that 3D model was made by somebody who literally just makes 3D models because it relaxes him. He just makes these beautiful apartments and these buildings and stuff. And he sent me his work and it was like, this is obviously gorgeous. I have no idea how this works in this big, weird, colorful movie I’m making. But it just slowly became a process of going down the list of each collaborator, what their aesthetic was, and finding the most logical place to slide it in. And Salem Hughes makes these 3D PlayStation 1 looking 3D models, and it was like, okay, our Bat Cave should look like a PlayStation 1 game.

I can’t stress enough how I’m not Stanley Kubrick. I had a cohesive vision for this movie, but when I would get stuff from people that didn’t necessarily match what was in my head, it was never like, okay, we need to send this back. It was always like, let’s just find a way to make this work. I want it to feel like a big queer, eclectic, weird thing. And I think the sort of mixed media aesthetic of it makes the movie itself feel trans and transformative and just very queer and colorful. And the collaboration process was, it was just all “yes, anding.”

I’d wake up in the morning and get an email like, hey, here’s the Batmobile I’m working on. Does it look too much like a dick? And my response would be like, no, it doesn’t look enough like a dick. Let’s add some balls and then it’d be done. That was it. It’s really cool. I’ve never worked that way, especially in TV, when you get stuff from a “vendor,” and if it doesn’t match the vision of the showrunner, you send it back or you fire that person and replace them. But this was like, no, I have all these artists who I legitimately want to amplify their voices, and I want to make something that feels like they made it too, and not just they were making an extension of my brain or whatever. The most challenging part of the process was finding the single cohesive aesthetic to it all. But really it’s just basic filmmaking: find a color palette, find a sort of visual motif to certain things, and you’ll figure it out. It’s helpful too that it is all parodies and recreations of things that we’ve seen for years and years over and over again in these superhero movies,

Gabe: As a filmmaker myself, I have to ask. Did you have donors or investors, or did you have to pitch this to people who were like, no, thank you? I don’t even know where I would start to pitch it.

Vera: I definitely didn’t pitch this at all. This movie, actually, if anything, came out of a space where I was trying to move exclusively into directing and producing, and I was pitching for years. I mean, it wasn’t that long. People pitch things for decades and never get anything. I was only doing it for three years, but that was enough for me to go, I’m not going to get anything made. Nobody wants to make my fucking silly gay movies or shows or anything.

This project was always about creating a space for me where I wouldn’t get any notes, where I was the last authority and could trust my intuition. Because I think that’s what I got so burnt out on, especially in post-production, just being in a room with people where you’re kind of constantly being told no or getting asked, is this the best take? Yeah, of course it’s the best take. Why would I have picked your worst take? Grow up. Just the dumbest. I just have been in a pitching space and in kind of a dead end collaborative space for a while towards the end of my run at being a “gun for hire” in TV. This was always about just carving out a space for me to do whatever I want. We did do a little bit of crowdfunding. I think I raised maybe about 30k, and that was way more than I ever thought we were going to, because I crowdfunded in 2020. I was crowdfunding when all of us didn’t have jobs. I mean, maybe some people had some PPP loans and were getting some government aid that they threw towards this movie.

All of that money we crowdfunded went into the shoot itself, and I had nothing left over for post-production, which was terrifying because I knew I was shooting a movie where every single shot was a green screen shot, but that reality didn’t really settle in until the beginning of 2021. And I was like, okay, I have no money. I don’t know what I’m doing. So I did something that I don’t necessarily recommend anybody ever do, but I took out a huge loan to finish the movie, and I’m in a ton of debt from this film, and please print that. It helps me on the legal side of things.

Gabe: Does it?

Vera: Yeah! I think it was all worth it because I wanted to pay the VFX artists that were helping me bring this home, and the animators. I had worked on too many things that no money was ever left over for post that I was like, I need to do this, and I’ll just enter a big debt hole because of it. And I’m glad I took the risk because the movie looks exactly how I want it to look. I’m so happy with how it turned out. But yeah, I don’t know. First time filmmakers, I do not recommend. I don’t recommend this film as a model for anybody to follow. I don’t think anybody, to your point, I don’t think it can be recreated, and I don’t think anybody should try to do what I did. I had to start doing transcendental meditation because I made this movie. I meditate 45 minutes a day because this movie destroyed my brain in the process of making it. So, yeah, it’s kind of just the biggest risk and gamble I’ve ever taken, and I’m so glad I took it. It was just a big, fun, beautiful DIY community project at the end of the day, and then became whatever it is now.

Gabe: It’s funny that you’re like, don’t do this, but I personally find it so inspirational.

Vera: Well, people should make their big, personal genre epic. That I fully encourage you to do. I just recommend not going the parody route because the thing that kept this movie in a holding pattern for so long was that nobody has ever made a parody film like this. And I think it’s kind of establishing a new precedent on what you could do with fair use and parody. But I don’t think that necessarily means everybody should run out and go make The People’s Harry Potter.

The People’s Joker is now playing in theaters in select cities. It will continue expanding to more cities in the coming weeks.

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Gabe Dunn

Gabe (he/him) is a queer, trans writer and director whose most recent film GRINDR BABY was selected for Frameline Festival’s 2023 Voices. He is a best-selling author thrice-over, host of the podcasts The Knew Guys, Just Between Us and Bad With Money. As a TV writer, he has sold over a dozen TV shows to networks like FX, Freeform, and Netflix. His young adult sci-fi drama Apocalypse Untreated was released by Audible Originals in 2020. His latest TV project The Daring Life and Dangerous Times of Eve Adams is in development at Universal with Gabe set to write and produce.

Gabe has written 14 articles for us.


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