Deana McGuffin is a third generation boot maker living in New Mexico. Her boots are more art than footwear. The short documentary film BOOTWMN explains how Deana was approached by a San Franciscan artist with a commission to make a gay-themed cowboy boot, representing “the gay state.” We then join a team of cross generational boot makers, (Deana still teaches aspiring apprentices in the craft) working to complete the boots in time to enter them into a competition in Northern Texas. Directors Paige Gratland and Sam McWilliams didn’t originally set out to make a film: “we did not know we were making a movie, and only started filming to remember all the steps in boot making.”

The idea was to visit McGuffin Custom Boots in order to get a pair of boots made inspired byMcWilliam’s father, described by the filmmakers as “a man with impeccable style who use to dance with his partner at Rawhide, a gay country and western bar in San Francisco.” But what initially started as a quest to create footwear opened up doors for both Paige, Sam and Deana. “As we spent more time with Deana, we learned about her life and came to understand what an incredible person, artist and storyteller she is. We felt compelled to introduce her and her work to the LGBTQ communities we had access to, because to know Deana McGuffin is to love her.”

What BOOTWMN does so well is create a fantastic juxtaposition between a stereotypically male profession and the queering of this traditional art form. It champions women in the workplace, breaking traditional and outdated stereotypes and as Deana puts it so beautifully “there’s only one thing that men bootmakers have that women bootmakers don’t, and as far as I know not any of them use it to make boots with.”

BOOTWMN has played at over 50 film festivals in 9 countries including Hot Docs (Toronto), Frameline (San Francisco) and Outfest (LA.) It was also licensed for streaming and broadcast on OutTV and won audience awards in Seattle (US), Perth (AU) and Brighton (U.K.) The filmmakers express a huge thanks to fellow female artists and filmmakers who provided mentorship when promoting BOOTWMN: “The success it has had on the film circuit is largely due to the generosity and mentorship of other female artists, filmmakers, programmers and arts workers such as Sarah Sharkey Pearce, Wanda Vanderstoop at Vtape, Lynne Fernie at Hot Docs and most importantly Deana McGuffin and our editor Bonnie Rae Brickman, who not only seamlessly integrated the unintentional footage I spoke of above (ipad, iphone, go pro) but also educated us on the film festival circuit and enthusiastically promoted our film through her networks. If anything this film and the making of, is a testament to power of apprenticeship.”

Directors Paige Gratland and Sam McWilliams are both filmmakers and artists. Gratland is known for her thought-provoking queer performance art and McWilliams is a talented tattooist and artist. You can find information about their current projects here:

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