#PROFPRIDE: Filmmaker Riel Dioquino on “Beyond His Closet”

Riel wears his graduation regalia and squats by a tree.

Today we speak with Riel Marc Dioquino (he/him), who recently graduated with a degree in Radio/Television/Film (RTF) and a concentration in Production. Riel hails from Burlington Township and is a first-generation college student. He also participated in Cinema Workshop and earned recognition for this short documentary, Beyond His Closet, in the Edelman College of Communications & Creative Arts Student Showcase. Beyond His Closet follows Adam Kowalski in his journey after coming out. Riel also earned recognition for his narrative film, Lost & Found, at the 7th Annual RTF Media Festival.

Why is this a relevant story to share? 

Anyone that’s in the LGBTQ+ community, we hear a lot of stories of people coming out, but little do we hear stories of what happens after. There are a lot of inner demons you still have to work with maybe your whole life you’ve closeted yourself and you’ve hidden your identity for so long. That affects your way of living and you have to find a way to find yourself again.

This goes back to the concept of coming in, which is what Adam talks about [in the documentary]. The concept of coming out is that you tell everyone, your friends and your family that you’re gay or bi, or whoever you are. Coming in is just as important because it means you’re coming into yourself. You’re starting to explore the good and bad sides of yourself and become more comfortable in your own skin. That’s what this whole story of Adam and this documentary focuses on, not just the process of coming out, but going through life afterward and finding yourself again. 

Is there anything else you want viewers to realize or feel after watching the film? 

Coming from my personal struggles, I think from what Adam says at the end to keep going through life and keep moving forward, I think that makes us stronger. 

I just hope anyone that watches this feels the hopefulness and the strength Adam shows. I think Adam is a really strong person, and having that film in mind kind of helped me mentally prepare for my surgery [Riel currently has a broken arm that required surgery]. I feel like we should just appreciate life as it is, not take life too seriously and just continue on regardless of whatever you’re are going through, I think that’s what’s going to make your life the fullest.

Adam, wearing glasses and a black t-shirt, plays the guitar on his porch.

How did you prepare Adam to be your documentary subject? 

I did a pre-interview with Adam before we started shooting for the film. We met up and talked about his life for a few hours that first day. After I knew a little bit about him, I had my questions lined up so that he could talk about: his childhood, his process of coming out, what happened after he came out and then a wrap-up of what he thinks about his life.

How long did it take to film the documentary? 

On all phases of production, it took a whole semester. This film was for my TV Documentary Field Production class. I had Professor Jonathan Olshefski and I chose to do it independently, which was a tough job to carry but it wasn’t too bad. Thankfully, I had Prof. Olshefski to guide me. 

Surprisingly, it took four days to film the documentary. Before and during those film days throughout the semester, I had to find a subject, pre-plan the shoot, plan all the equipment, then commute to get all of the equipment from the RTF room. Once production was done, I edited everything at home. 

Beyond His Closet film cover photo showing Adam playing the guitar while barefoot.

In the future, what kind of films do you want to make? 

I’ve honestly never really thought of that because I’m always thinking about what’s the next job to do. I just graduated and I always get asked, “What’s your plan? Do you have any jobs lined up?” It’s the pressure of “What is next?” or “You have to keep going even though you have no idea where to go” that kind of scares me.

I always thought about maybe doing freelancing or production assistant jobs. Personally, I never thought of making a documentary or a huge film because it’s not usually my thing. But, if anyone asked me to join their project, I would!  

For my Instagram posts, I play around with a lot of lighting and smoke on concepts for my photo/video shoots. Recently, I’ve been wanting to get out of my basement to do more photo/video shoots in nature for a change. The way I work with projects on Instagram or non-jobs is more about expressing myself, what I feel in the moment, and what I need to get out of my chest into visuals. Then I’m onto my next project. 

I used to make a lot of dark, emo, Billie-Eilish-inspired projects where I’m in this dark void, but recently I want to make more projects where I feel free with the use of outside nature. 

Going back to the making of my documentary, it can be hard for filmmakers to create a documentary if you don’t understand the energy of the person. That’s what brings life to it, showing compassion and deep feelings about it. Not just the way people talked in the interview but the way you edit it, the way you shoot b-roll, and how you use lighting. Everything influences how you want to portray this person’s life on screen.

Riel looks contemplatively into the golden sunset with his hand on his face.

Is there anything else you want to share about the film? 

I just thought it was cool how I was able to be comfortable enough to dive deep in this subject of being a part of the LGBTQ+ community and exploring someone’s life through that. I definitely would give credit to my production classes especially my Video Art class because I was able to express myself and be open about being gay through projects where I was given the freedom to make whatever I want. From that, I felt open to doing the documentary on Adam which I am very grateful for.

What’s your message to people during Pride Month or are you keeping anything in mind during Pride Month? I feel like I’m a newbie at being openly gay because this is the first year where I’m actively expressing my identity through projects where I’m able to tell people my struggles with being gay. 

I have social anxiety, I’m very introverted, and I’m Asian. My advice for people is that there’s always going to be a group for you even if you think there’s not. 

Keeping that fire or spark alive is so important. Do what makes you happy. When I grow up, I don’t want to regret not doing the things I wanted to do. I don’t want to have an unfulfilled life when my time comes. Having that mindset helps me move forward and blocks out all the negativity. Letting go of all the tension in your chest and just doing whatever you want helps bring a lot more meaning to your life. I know it won’t be easy but I think it’d be worth the shot if you tried.

Check out more of Riel’s work at:

Instagram – @rmarc99

Portfolio Website – https://rieldioquino.myportfolio.com/work 

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Story by: 
Marian Suganob, public relations and advertising graduate

Photos by:
Riel Dioquino, radio television film graduate

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