“Kings & Queens,” shot in Portland over three days in August 2020, centers on Lucy, a newly-single young lesbian down on her luck as she struggles to discover her true self. When she finds herself at a new job with a drag scene, things begin to change for her, and a sense of hope emerges. Submitted photo

Elmer J. Howard, an Auburn resident and owner of Thrive Productions, has picked up numerous awards with his locally-made short film, “Kings & Queens,” after making its rounds through a number of international film festivals, including awards for some of the cast and the writer.

Elmer J. Howard, an Auburn resident and owner of Thrive Productions, has picked up numerous awards with his locally-made short film, “Kings & Queens,” after making its rounds through a number of international film festivals, including awards for some of the cast and the writer. Courtesy photo by Garrick Hoffman

“Kings & Queens,” shot in Portland over three days in August 2020, centers on Lucy, a newly-single young lesbian down on her luck as she struggles to discover her true self. When she finds herself at a new job with a drag scene, things begin to change for her, and a sense of hope emerges.

“I’m excited to bring this story to the world,” said Howard. “People are almost universally familiar with the term ‘drag queen’ in a variety of contexts, but have you heard of drag kings? ‘Kings and Queens’ tells a story about one such person and is potentially a breakout film for this year, introducing the public to a lesser-exposed and certainly underappreciated cultural segment of drag.”

In addition to shooting locally, the film also hired a few local drag personalities for supporting roles. Courtesy photo by Garrick Hoffman

The 30-minute film was directed by Howard and written by Arizona-based Melissa Martin. It stars Emily Kokidko as Lucy, Sara Brophy as Lucy’s ex-girlfriend Harper, Thomas Smallwood as drag queen Eric, and Martin as Blackstones bartender Nikki. Brett Bays, also an Arizona resident, served as the cinematographer. The rest of the crew were all Maine-based, including the sound technician, gaffers, and stills photographer.

In addition to shooting locally, the film also hired a few local drag personalities for supporting roles, including drag queens Cherry Lemonade and Gigi Gabor, as well as drag king Lou Zér. Smallwood is also a Portland-based drag queen.

“‘Kings & Queens’ is a story of authenticity and not being afraid to search for your true self,” said screenwriter Melissa Martin. “I think it’s a very common human fault to settle and not pursue inner happiness. If something inside you is yearning for fulfillment or leading you to your true calling, don’t be afraid or ashamed to indulge that need! I hope Lucy’s story is relatable even to those not involved in the drag or LGBTQ communities. Happiness starts within!”

Since it was filmed in the midst of the pandemic, strict protocols were implemented to ensure the safety of the cast and crew. Courtesy photo by Garrick Hoffman

Since it was filmed in the midst of the pandemic, strict protocols were implemented to ensure the safety of the cast and crew. Masks were mandatory for everyone at all times, including the cast in between scenes. Negative COVID tests were required within 72 hours of the first day of shooting. Upon arriving on set, everyone had to check in and have their temperature checked. Hand sanitizer was generously distributed, and food was ordered from Portland restaurants Sisters Gourmet and City Deli in individually-wrapped sandwiches instead of food that is frequently touched, such as pizza, or calls for utensils that are frequently touched.

This isn’t the first film for Howard. His most recent film before “Kings & Queens” was another LGBT-themed film, titled “Loving Martin,” which also won a slew of awards. In the ‘90s, Howard worked in the craft service department for a well-known film: “Flubber,” starring Robin Williams.

Follow the “Kings & Queens” Facebook page for updates. https://www.facebook.com/KingsAndQueensShortFilm.

Locations in the film include Little Ghost vintage clothing store on Forest Avenue. Courtesy photo by Garrick Hoffman

Locations in the film include Geno’s Rock Club on Congress Street – presented as Portland’s only gay bar, Blackstones. Courtesy photo by Garrick Hoffman

“Kings & Queens” was shot in Portland over three days in August 2020. Courtesy photo by Garrick Hoffman


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