Chasing Chasing Amy Sav Rodgers Kevin Smith

Chasing Chasing Amy director Sav Rodgers was a 12-year-old queer kid in Kansas, desperate for any LGBTQ+ content, when he came across his mom’s VHS copy of the 1997 Kevin Smith rom-com Chasing Amy, in which Holden, played by Ben Affleck, falls for a lesbian friend played by Joey Lauren Adams.

It may not be a perfect movie, but it’s exactly the movie Rodgers needed. His complicated relationship with the complicated film is the focus of Chasing Chasing Amy, his feature documentary debut — which premieres today at the Tribeca Festival.

Chasing Amy was viewed as relatively groundbreaking upon its release because it was the rare mainstream film at the time that presented gay and lesbian characters as smart, fun, cool, and very comfortable with their sexuality.

But it has drawn criticism in retrospect — spoilers follow — from people who take issue with Lauren’s character, Alyssa Jones, falling for a man, however briefly, and for what some see as an implication that her lesbianism and supposed promiscuity are perhaps connected. Others take issue with the Jason Lee character, Banky, who spews homophobia but eventually turns out to be gay.

Chasing Chasing Amy Director Sav Rodgers on the Fruitless Search for a Perfect Messenger

In Chasing Chasing Amy, Rodgers holds space for all viewpoints – while stressing how much the 1996 film meant to him. He shares them with Smith, Adams, and Guinevere Turner, the actress and screenwriter (her credits include American Psycho) who provided the real-life inspiration for Alyssa.

“I don’t think there’s such a thing as a perfect messenger. Everybody’s relationship with specific movies is subjective, right?” Rodgers says in the latest MovieMaker podcast, which you can check out on Apple, Spotify or below.

For me, what worked about Chasing Amy was that I got to see the rich inner lives of those characters. I found it to be really honest with my sense of romanticism. And it presented a possible model in a way in a way in Alyssa Jones, because she was so confident, and she was so herself. It was everything that I wasn’t as a 12 year old kid who was really questioning who I was and where my place was in the world.

“And so regardless of how Chasing Amy continues to age, regardless of how culture continues to evolve and progress, it still had a very meaningful place in my heart, and still does.

Sav Rodgers visits a convenience store that will look very familiar to Kevin Smith fans in Chasing Chasing Amy.

Rodgers notes that culture evolves, and that since Chasing Amy, other films have come into existence “that are probably closer to the perspective that I’m interested in as a storyteller… that represent my journey in terms of my gender and my sexual orientation.”

“But it doesn’t change that Chasing Amy was the movie that I had access to. And you don’t really pick the thing that saves your life, right?”

Just as Chasing Amy was a milestone for the 12-year-old Rodgers, Chasing Chasing Amy chronicles many adult milestones: We see the filmmaker deliver a TED Talk, get engaged to the love of his life, and come out as a trans man.

Sav Rodgers’ Chasing Amy TED Talk

But amid Rodgers’ triumphs, he saves the most surprising moments in the film for how Chasing Amy affected both the woman who inspired Alyssa Jones and the woman who played her: Both Guinevere Turner and Joey Lauren Adams sit down for surprising interviews detailing the complicated emotions the film brings up for them.

Chasing I Love You Margot Robbie

Chasing Chasing Amy also led to a creative partnership between Sav Rodgers and producer Alex Schmider, whose credits include Netflix’s Disclosure and Hulu’s Changing the Game. In addition to filmmaking, Schmider is the  director of Transgender Representation at GLAAD.

Rodgers and Schider don’t want to say too much about their next project, but in the podcast, Schmider lays out one of the better loglines we’ve heard lately: The script, by Rodgers and co-writer Taylor Gates, is called I Love You, Margo Robbie.

“It’s about a trans teenage boy who is trying to figure out who he is, and going through all the woes of high school, and accidentally comes upon a Jiminy Cricket in the form of Margot Robbie, who falls off a billboard,” Schmider explains. “So it is fantastical. It is larger than life. … it showcases Sav’s wildly imaginative, surreal, daffy point of view, that we’re really excited to explore. “

Chasing Chasing Amy is now at the Tribeca Festival.

Main image: Kevin Smith and Sav Rodgers in Chasing Chasing Amy