"A character study about gender identity and self expression carried by a rich, lived-in specificity." -NoBudge
"Rich in color and sophisticated in tone, the film offers Dani’s fascination with drag performance as an invitation for the audience to think through the literal performance of gender." -Honeysuckle Magazine
"A nuanced piece about the limits of labels when it comes to identity." -Ina Pira (Staff Curator, Vimeo)
Writer, Director, EP: Melanie Notinger
Cast: Sarah Danko, Lauren Lane (C.C. Babcock, THE NANNY), Tyler George, and Melanie Notinger
Associate Producer: Diane Meo
DP: Layton Blaylock
Editor: Tyler Byrnes
L A U R E N L A N E
S A R A H D A N K O
M E L A N I E N O T I N G E R
T Y L E R G E O R G E
D I R E C T O R B I O
D I R E C T O R S T A T E M E N T
Shaped by a childhood gender-bending in the theatre, Melanie found freedom challenging the gender binary early. Her intimate short film, DRESS CODE (writer/director/supporting), was recently featured on NoBudge, where it was described as "a character study about gender identity." The film continues to screen internationally, from NewFest (NYC) to an upcoming screening with underground queer collective Cinemq (Shanghai).
Melanie wrote, directed, and starred as a severely anxious comedian in her debut short CHOKE ARTIST (Official Selection Lighthouse International Film Festival). She co-wrote and played 7 erratic roles in BROOKLYN NO-NAMES Off-Broadway – Best Script winner of the 2018 SheNYC Festival.
Melanie is an alum of Joan Scheckel's Filmmaking Series (Action Lab). She graduated Cum Laude with a B.F.A. in Acting from Texas State University – where her first full-length play, BURNING AND DODGING, was produced. Her latest projects are the CHOKE ARTIST half-hour pilot and an unsettling feature about young people discovering boundaries – in devastating ways. She lives in Los Angeles.
DRESS CODE is a poetic investigation of labels and how they affect us. It explores society's shame around femininity. The screenplay was inspired by the unnecessary pressure to present as either feminine or masculine. To choose. DRESS CODE explores what's in-between. As a queer storyteller, I'm fascinated by the spectrum of ways one can identify in the world.
DRESS CODE was shot in Austin, Texas with a 66% female crew. Queer collaborators were vital to the project both on-camera and behind-the-scenes. The score was written & performed by glam-pop Austin native Benjamin Violet (frontman of PELVIS WRESTLEY).
Guided by the works of Joey Soloway (TRANSPARENT), Dee Rees (PARIAH), and Desiree Akhavan (APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR), the project started as a love letter to radical queer women who ferociously challenge norms of identity in their work. My dream is for the film to make presentation feel more comfortable for everyone, especially those who have historically been otherized.