Hot Docs 2018 Interview: TRANSFORMER director Michael Del Monte


“The film follows former U.S. Marine, bodybuilder and strongest man in the world, Matt Kroc, as he attempts his greatest test of strength: becoming a woman.” Director Michael Del Monte on TRANSFORMER which screens at #HotDocs25.

Great to have you here at HotDocs! Tell me more about your process of getting this documentary project together!

The first step was just to drive to meet Janae. I wanted to get to know her and hear her story. We spent two days together, talking about what it could look like to tell her story. We both agreed that it was important to make something that would reach people outside of the LGBTQ circle. We wanted to create dialogue. So, I began shooting a bit on my own and after a few months was able to secure a development deal with CBC’s Doc Channel.

How long was your process from beginning to end and did you have any challenges during the filming process?

From meeting her to screening it the first time was exactly two years. One of the big challenges, as with any film, is that you can’t film anything and everything. You have to make choices. Because of the distance between us, we couldn’t film everything so we really had to understand the story and themes and make choices as to what shoots we would do. We had to be selective with what we shot.

How long did post-production take and editing the final product together?

Due to the timeline, our editing overlapped with our final key shoots. I would say post was around six months.

Throughout the whole process, what kept you going while making this feature? What drove you? How much coffee are we talking about here?

Lots of coffee. Lots of walks to clear my head and strangely, lots of time in the gym. In fact, I did my own physical transformation while doing this because I wanted to see what the obsession with muscle was like for Janae. I think what kept me going was the importance of getting her internal struggle right. People struggle with some serious stuff and it’s often not conveyed well through documentaries. I wanted to make sure we really felt her internal struggle so people understand how difficult this is.

A very technical question, but what kind of cameras and editing equipment did you use to capture this documentary?

I did the development shoots, only a couple in the film, with the Canon C100, but most of the film was shot on the Sony Fs7. We edited on Adobe Premiere.

What excites you the most about presenting this to HotDocs audience?

That after two and a half years of hearing about it, my family and friends will finally be able to see it.

After the movie shows at HotDocs, where is the movie going next? Are there any other festivals coming up?

We are looking at doing a limited theatrical run. We have already been approached by Netflix and others, but I would like to see this get on some big screens before it goes to the digital platforms.

How do you feel with the theatrical experience versus streaming debate for documentaries? Are you okay with the movie going to streaming/digital only, or do you strive for the theatrical experience?

Theatrical is still very important to me. Even when it comes to documentaries. By going into a big theatre, turning off all distractions and looking up at the big screen, you’re giving yourself over to the story. It can be a powerful experience.

What is the one piece of advice you would say to anyone looking into making a documentary short or feature for the first time?

See the world as no one else sees it.

And finally, what is your all time favorite documentary feature film?



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TRANSFORMER is now playing at HotDocs. For more information visit!

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