This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous portrays the intimate journey of Gigi Lazzarato, a fearless young woman who began life as Gregory Lazzarato. Watch the incredible transition in this documentary from Barbara Kopple and Adam Wescott.
Barbara Kopple is no stranger to documentary having worked on Harlan County USA, Havoc, and American Dream. YouTube Red’s This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous tells the story of YouTube star, Gigi Loren Lazzarato. Gigi is managed by Adam Wescott and Scott Fisher, who both serve as executive producers on the documentary. I caught up with Kopple and Wescott to talk about the documentary.
Can you talk about how you got together?
Adam: We originally were working with Gigi’s own footage. Being the independent creator that she is, she decided to turn the camera on herself during her transition thinking she’ll do it for herself and her family to look back on.
It was four hours of blog footage. Good and bad. I started looking for people to partner on with, specifically amazing documentary makers and the financing component.
At the top of the list was Barbara Kopple who is one of few names that have really done incredible work in the documentary world and specifically with social causes. Knowing her two Oscars and being in major social movements, being an independent woman it seemed like the perfect fit. The rest is history.
Barbara: Adam, Gigi, and Scott all came to my office, and we sat around talked and we clicked immediately.
How did you know Gigi would be the right focus to go from YouTube to a full-length documentary?
Barbara: I never thought of anything as a 3-minute video. As I was looking at her work, we were looking at all of her material, we would put together the ones that really said something to us. I never come into a film with any pre-conceived notions about what the film might be. Every person and every character that I’ve ever worked with has their own story to tell. I just really want that character to allow me to go on a journey with them and to be there for the things that they really care about and see them evolve as a full person.
Adam: For us, Gigi’s weekly videos give us a glimpse of her life, but this was a side of the story that she hadn’t shared. She did have her coming out video that helped announce and explain it to her fans, but they didn’t get to see the behind the scenes. Barbara ended up finding this great story about her father transitioning with her, and that’s something that never would have lived in a YouTube video.
The story of the father was compelling. You wanted to hug him by the end of that and say we need more people like him.
Barbara: The Lazzarato story really moved me. They have this pure love for each other, and they were ready to tell the story. I spent so much time with them, and they really opened up to me. Also in the editing room, everybody just loved this family and David was loved. People would peep into the editing room and comment on how much they wanted him as a father.
I think that also he too didn’t fully understand what was happening. He just wanted to be a good parent and to really see Gigi fulfilled and happy. That was more important than hanging on to anything else. He was there for the big moments, giving her that sponge bath. That scene was so touching. If more people could communicate, the world would be better.
Adam: That’s one of the things that I took away, both parents and kids can watch it and appreciate it. If more parents understood Dave’s perspective and if we have more people like him, they world would be a better place.
Barabra: Communication is at the center of the film and she just tells it as it is.This is what I want, this is what I’m going to do, come with me or don’t get in my way.
It’s such a great attitude.
Adam: Yes, it is.
Barbara: She wants to live her life the way she wants to live it. It gives people courage. It’s such a timely message to be yourself and to find yourself and not let anyone obstruct it.
Where did you film her?
Barbara: In L.A., Toronto, and New York. I did this really long interview with her that is the spine of the film that holds the film together.
The biggest challenge was to be able to do this in a linear fashion.
My biggest dilemma was what to do with her voice. We lowered it in the mix. Greg had a higher voice for the YouTube videos. At the end of it all, I wanted people to see where she was going.
What was her reaction when she saw it?
Barbara: She saw it at Sundance with 650 people with her family and close friends. I think she was really moved watching her whole life unfold. Her father was crying. He got a standing ovation, and he was talking and just started crying.
Adam: She put so much trust in Barbara. She was comfortable knowing her footage and her current day stuff and seeing the finished product. Each time she watches it she takes so much away.
What’s it been like for you both?
Barbara: You always get jitters. You hope the person likes it. I fell in love with Gigi and her family and thought the message was really good.
Adam: For us, it’s been the most interesting just seeing the audience reaction. We had a screening last week. Gigi’s fans are usually young, and last week we had old ladies, hooting and hollering and being fierce. Seeing the range of emotion is so rewarding.
Barbara: What we had last week with the film community, they’re documentary makers and filmmakers and to get their love meant a great deal to me.