Jake Graf is taking the world by storm, with 2016 looking set to be another fantastic year for the writer, director, actor and trans advocate. He may have appeared in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene in the Danish Girl starring Eddie Redmayne, but Graf has written and acted in his own projects such as Brace back in 2014, and he’ll be in the web series, Spectrum East – amongst so much more!
We caught up with this brilliant fella as he was also shooting a book project for Flash Avenue Studio. Get ready to be inspired…
So how’s it going today? Very well thank you! Obviously not terribly nice weather but other than that, all good.
You’ve been pretty busy lately! We’ve seen the pictures of you at the premiere of the Danish Girl with Eddie Redmayne… Yes! The premiere was amazing, and Eddie and Alicia were so charming. Tom Hooper even thanked myself and Rebecca Root for our support from the stage! A couple of weeks before that I was at the White House for the ‘Champions for Change’ event with the Danish Girl team, as one of the trans actors in the film who has, somewhat controversially, supported the casting of Eddie Redmayne from the outset. They flew me over and I stayed in a hotel 100 yards from the White House. Obama wasn’t there but they had the LGBT liaison there, his first trans representative, one of his vice in command and all of the team from Transparent, the Amazon series. Writers, producers and all the cast – it was amazing.
So it’s a very tiny, tiny part, but what was it like on set? It was a small part for literally half a second. Unfortunately my longer scene with Matthias Schoenaerts had been cut, but I was flown out to Belgium and put up in a really nice hotel. The set was in the Horta Museum and all the streets around were cordoned off and dressed to look like 1920s Paris. Eddie Redmayne was being chauffeured around. You’re treated like a proper member of the cast. I had wig fittings wearing one of Eddie’s hair pieces, costume fittings and my own driver for the duration of preparation and shoot. We were treated like equals to Alicia Vikander and everyone. It was amazing, a dream come true. You really see how the other half live!
Tom Hooper even thanked myself and Rebecca Root for our support from the stage!
You’re not new to being on set having starred in independent films. You wrote and starred in Brace set in London’s gay scene. What kind of reaction did you get from that? Brace has been amazing. I wrote it five years ago, two years after transitioning, and it’s a very personal story to me. I had a girlfriend who I was very much in love with but then started feeling very gay again but in the other way, which was a very unsettling feeling, as pre-transition I had been a big part of the lesbian community. I think because nothing else had been made at this level, with a trans storyline, and such high production values, Brace really took off.
The budget was only £10k but everyone gave up their time, and locations were given to us at Heaven, Man bar and Ed’s Diner for free. We made it look visually stunning with two great directors, Alicya Eyo and Sophy Holland. We’ve been to 55 film festivals and won best shorts and diversity awards. It’s been used for Trans Day of Remembrance events for the past three years and been taken to L.A and Frameline. It’s been phenomenal and has just been picked up for Peccadillo Pictures’ latest Boys on Film short film collection. We could not have hoped for more, it really was a case of right place, right time.
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