Twins take road trip in search of Dolly Parton
In "Hollywood to Dollywood," twin brothers Gary and Larry Lane go on a cross-country trip to deliver a very special movie script they’ve written. The intended recipient: Dolly Parton. After numerous failed attempts to send her the script, they find the perfect opportunity to deliver it personally during a yearly event at Dollywood. With an RV and vaguely outlined plan, the brothers set off for Tennessee.
What makes "Hollywood to Dollywood" interesting is the doc’s refreshing tone. Gary and Larry Lane are gay, and face social and familial discrimination for their orientation. The brothers, now in their 30s, grew up in North Carolina and moved to Los Angeles a decade ago.
By allowing the cameras in, the Lane twins give audiences a candid look at life as an LGBT individual in the South. The film trades in what would be deserved anger for a message of healing, offering hope and positivity to those struggling with their own identity.
Gary Lane took the time to chat with EDGE about the making of the film (directed by John Lavin) and its unexpected runaway success. As noted, the film came about through a lemons-to-lemonade situation. "When we finished the script it was around November of 2009. We sent it to Nashville, to her management company. It was sent back to us unopened, and it was marked unsolicited material," Lane recalled with a twinge of residual exasperation. "So that was a little disheartening."
Undeterred, the Lanes used the opportunity to jump-start their documentary, one that hadn’t originally been planned to address their lives as gay men. That decision came after an encounter with an elderly couple in which the twins’ hesitancy to discuss their sexuality resulted in a "come to Jesus moment" among the group, as Gary Lane described it.
That decision to discuss their sexuality onscreen was a brave one, given the strain that already exists in their family. "We told our parents when we were 25," Lane said, explaining that his mother’s religious beliefs have prevented her from accepting their sexual identity. The brothers came out to each other when they were 16.
"Our Mom is more like, ’don’t ask, don’t tell.’ She knows about the movie. But she doesn’t want to see it. She can’t condone us being gay. We don’t blame her in the movie."
Lane is incredibly generous and kind when describing his mother’s hesitancy, viewing those with unaccepting sentiments as victims of a larger cultural force.
Gary sees the documentary work he’s done with his brother as ushering them into activism. "I think we kinda have become activists. The movie has gotten us onto a bigger platform. We do have a voice. We focus a lot in the movie on the South. The South is about twenty or thirty years behind the rest of the country on equality."
What would he would say to kids facing those cultural forces that often still tear families apart in many parts of the United States?
"I would say if you have a family that’s not accepting, you have to do it when you’re comfortable," Lane replied. "If you meet the worst case scenario, there’s a loving family out there, people who will help you." The film bears this out through scenes both heart-wrenching and heart-warming.
The tone of the film remains remarkably positive despite the tough subject matter. Gary Lane is quick to compliment his crew: "John Lavin was the mastermind of the editing and the directing. So we give him all the praise for that."
Also lending to the upbeat tone is a bevy of Parton’s music. (The film includes 15 clips from her recordings and television appearances.) Parton generously signed over an unprecedented number of songs for this independent release. As Gary rightly pointed out, "It’s unheard of."
25 Festival awards
Parton recently praised the boys at a press junket, and talks are underway between her management and the Lane twins to affiliate a soundtrack with the film. She did have one stipulation for releasing her songs. Lane said she required that 10% of profits from every sale of "Hollywood to Dollywood" go to the Imagination Library, "It’s all over the world to promote childhood literacy," he said.
Always the philanthropist, Parton announced that she’ll also be donating 100% of all sales from her upcoming book "Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You" to the Imagination Library as well.
"Hollywood to Dollywood" was recently picked up for distribution by Breaking Glass pictures, that will be rolling out a wide release of the film on DVD in November to coincide with the unveiling of Parton’s "Dream More." So far, the film has won twenty-five awards at film festivals. The Lane twins are ecstatic that their message of equality is reaching beyond the confines of LGBT media. "Out of sixty, forty of those were non-LGBT film festivals. We know Dolly got us into those festivals and got our message in there."
And the Lane brothers are only just beginning. They’re currently working on a documentary about twins and sexuality, a project kicked into gear by Rosie O’Donnell during an interview she did with them about "Hollywood to Dollywood."
"Rosie threw me a curveball at the end of the interview," Gary Lane recounts. (O’Donnell asked the brothers about this project that had yet to be reported to the public.) But like every curve-ball thrown at the Lane twins thus far, they accept the challenge and joyfully share their journey along the way.
For more information, visit the official website for "Hollywood to Dollywood".
Watch the trailer to Hollywood to Dollywood: