Filmmaker Keagan Anfuso has been perfecting her opus for the past four years. Since winning the Art Juried award at the 2015 One Spark festival, she and collaborator Drew Brown have been planning, filming, producing, and re-imagining their film, The Grey Area. At its core, the film chronicles the life of Anfuso herself, and how her experience with being a masculine female in the American south has affected her path in life.
“I didn’t have a very good high school experience,” she says. “I don’t think anyone does, but I certainly didn’t.” Anfuso originally wanted to be a photojournalist for the U.S. Air Force but was denied entry she says for being too “obviously gay”. She then ended up in the corporate world for a period, working at AOL. Eventually, she realized that she couldn’t deny her desire to do something more creative and meaningful.
As a child, Anfuso enjoyed shooting footage of her friends and then periodically cutting together video recaps of months, seasons, and gradually, years. These video journals would eventually pave the way for her passion and career of filmmaking and producing. She began looking into the now defunct Art Institute of Jacksonville, and enrolled in the film program.
The seed for The Grey Area was originally planted by one of Anfuso’s professors, who told her that, although he typically tells his students to steer clear of making autobiographical films, he felt that she had a unique story to tell. “He told me that people are really interested in what’s going on with me, but don’t want to offend me and don’t know how to talk to me.” She considered it, but ultimately decided that she didn’t feel comfortable making a film about herself.
Fast-forward to One Spark 2015. Anfuso’s friend and collaborator Drew Brown was pushing her to enter something into the festival. Brown convinced Anfuso to revisit her autobiographical project, and together on a three-day deadline, they submitted the idea into the festival. Anfuso explains that the idea was to, “make a short documentary about the perspective of being a masculine female and what that’s like in your daily life—what you experience, the misconceptions and anxieties, and the crazy things people think and say about you.” The Grey Area created a huge buzz at One Spark, and ultimately won the $15,000 Art Juried Award. Anfuso and Brown used that seed money to start what has become a four-year project. This spring they are rounding the corner of completion of their masterpiece.
The continued support and enthusiasm for this project has given Anfuso the drive and focus to work tirelessly to bring The Grey Area to a wide range of audiences, as she feels like it not only shines a light on what she herself has gone through; it also has given others a spotlight to share their stories. The film is peppered with interviews from many other women who have experienced life through the lens of being a masculine female. Anfuso’s goal is to show the audience what kind of hardships have been put upon these women, and to teach us all what it looks like to treat each other with respect, no matter how we present ourselves. Throughout its four-year production, the film has operated on a shoestring budget, with actors, extras, and crew mostly working for free, materials and locations loaned out, and everyone working around their other full-time jobs. The Grey Area is a labor of love for Anfuso, and we will all be rewarded for her efforts when it is released later this year.
This feature originally appeared under the headline “working in the gray area” in Void Magazine Vol. 10, Issue 1, 35 Under 35: Bold Movers.