Entitled Rad Queers, the project is a way for Kolbeins to combine his favourite things: queers and storytelling. "There are a lot of amazing queer people out there, and I wanted to use 'Rad Queers' as a sort of spotlight for them," he says via email. "I also just love meeting new people and getting to know their stories, and making documentaries is a great excuse to do that."
Kolbeins jokes that his spirit guides for Rad Queers are RuPaul and Ira Glass. "I'd been mulling over Rad Queers in the back of my mind for a while. I wanted to make something that explores the lives of queer people leading fiercely individual lives and doing good things."
When Kolbeins was introduced to the Los Angeles group the Payasos, he knew he had found what and who he was looking for. Payasos are a group of gay Latino men who -- through sexy and imaginative events, as well as a little bit of clown makeup -- create a space that Kolbeins says "make the world a better place for future generations."
"I met with Leo (the founder of the Payasos) to see if he'd be interested in the documentary and he was absolutely gracious and inviting," he says. "I shot some preliminary footage with the group and presented it to a production company I'd been working with to see if they'd be interested in doing a single-day shoot with the group. The company was a little terrified of the subject matter, so I decided to film it myself without a crew or budget. It actually worked out great that way! Instead of rushing it into a single day, I hung out with the Payasos over several months and attended a wide variety of their events. I ended up getting a much more intimate and multi-faceted perspective on the group than if I'd come in with eight crew members and a van full of equipment."
When asked what he likes about the Payasos, Kolbeins is enthusiastic in describing the sheer amount of fun that he was able to view and experience during filming. "When you're in clown face, it's kind of hard to have a bad time! Random strangers on the street get excited to see you. I had my makeup done a couple of times and it was almost jarring how different people's reactions are towards you . . . it's a simple gesture that makes you feel almost like a superhero, and encourages communion with those around you."