Documentary filmmaker explores ‘Chasing Amy,’ the rom-com that saved his life

chasing amy documentary

“Chasing Chasing Amy” director Sav Rodgers, right, with Kevin Smith.

The new documentary “Chasing Chasing Amy” is about a quest.

But the journey it took its filmmaker on was something no one was prepared for.

The story begins in Olathe, Kansas, when Sav Rodgers was 12, and a major Ben Affleck fan. Going through some videotapes at home, Rodgers found a copy of an old, unfamiliar Affleck film, “Chasing Amy.”

And watching it was a revelation.

“It didn’t just have Ben Affleck,” the 28-year-old says. “It was romantic, it was funny, it was about geeks who made comic books. I kept going back to it and every time I saw it, it just meant more to me.”

The 1997 Kevin Smith comedy — about an unexpected romance between an insecure straight man and an uninhibited queer woman — had been an artistic breakthrough for Smith. But for Rodgers, watching it at home years after its theatrical release, it became “a life raft.”

“I was having a really tough time with how I felt about myself,” Rodgers says. “I was being bullied at school for seeming queer, but I really had no idea who I was. This movie was the only place where I could see people who felt the way I did. I kept coming back to it. I mean, I’m an obsessive re-watcher anyway, but I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen ‘Chasing Amy.’ I can safely say there’s no other movie I’ve dedicated half my life to.”

Rodgers’ life soon took some new turns. The suburban teenager came out, went off to college, studied filmmaking and had shorts at Slamdance and at Cannes. In 2018, Rodgers even gave a TED talk, one of those celebrated symposia where someone holds forth on a provocative issue or personal point of view.

The topic? “Chasing Amy,” of course. The title? “The Rom-Com That Saved My Life.”

“I did the talk for me and also hoping Kevin Smith saw it, so he could understand what his movie meant to me,” Rodgers says. “But also because I was trying to make this documentary, and I thought if he saw the video … well, an eight-minute TED talk is better than reaching out with some random email. And within an hour of the talk going online, he emailed me. He said it made him cry. Now, Kevin cries a lot, but I still took that as a compliment. He said, ‘You know, when you make your movie, if you need to connect with anyone, I know a few people.’ I was gobsmacked.”

Sav Rodgers with Joey Lauren Adams.

Rodgers travelled to Smith’s place in California, and to the movie’s birthplace in Red Bank. He ended up doing long on-camera interviews with Smith and star Joey Lauren Adams, and with a variety of queer critics — not all of whom, frankly, are thrilled with “Chasing Amy” and its sometimes outmoded take on LGBQT life. (“It was made in 1997 and it was important and helpful and hurtful all at the same time,” Rodgers admits. “But that’s the gray area where most things land.”)

With Smith’s support, the resulting documentary became a full, frank, deep dive into the film and queer representation on screen.

“Kevin introduced me to anyone I wanted to talk to,” Rodgers says. “The first time we ever talked, he said, ‘You can never bother me — call me day or night.’ He was just exceedingly generous. I felt he was not only affirming who I was but who I could become as a filmmaker, by seeing the potential of this documentary.”

But who Rodgers was wasn’t quite set yet. And he had his own potential to chase.

We actually see it happen in the film when, during an interview with Smith, Rodgers suddenly asks the cinematographer to turn off the camera. And with the audio still running, Rodgers tells Smith that, although he’s been presenting all along as a gay woman, that’s not who he really is. He’s realized he’s truly a trans man, and that’s how he has to live his life.

In other words, a woman began this movie. A man will finish it.

And seeing the effects of that — as Rodgers eventually reappears on screen, after his transition — is the sort of twist few fiction films would dare. In fact, I even wondered if I should mention it in this story. Shouldn’t audiences have the experience of going into this film as I did — not knowing what happens? Is even talking about Rodgers’ transition here a spoiler?

Sav Rodgers in “Chasing Chasing Amy.”

But when I ask him, he’s unconcerned.

“Oh, I’m a walking spoiler,” says Rodgers, who now has a beard. “But I don’t know if it matters if people know everything going into the movie or not. I’m just excited for them to see it. I know that we don’t want to treat it with any kind of sensationalism. It’s just something that happened as a result of me coming of age. Of coming into myself by accepting myself.”

Still, that acceptance came with risks.

“I had just gotten the chance to make the movie of my dreams, so the idea of being rejected was scary,” he says. “And the world is not friendly to trans people. But I was still able to come out, I was still able to be myself, and that was life-changing. And I want audiences to see that. You don’t have to share my exact life experience to know what it’s like to feel rejected. Or to want to see your life reflected back at you onscreen, and to realize a piece of media can make a major difference in how you see yourself.”

The movie will have its Tribeca Festival premiere on June 8. The reviews and — Rodgers hopes — distribution deals will follow. (“We are 100 percent for sale!” he says about his film.)

But what was perhaps the most important review has already been filed.

“I showed Kevin the film and what followed was the most career-affirming conversation I’ve ever had,” Rodgers says. “He said he loved it. He said it’s one of the best movies about movies he’s ever seen. And really … where do you go from there?”

The Tribeca Festival runs from June 7 through June 18 at various locations in New York. For information about programs and schedules, visit

For more on the film, visit

Here is the trailer:

We need your help!


Since launching in September 2014,, a 501(c)(3) organization, has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of any amount to via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.


Custom Amount

Personal Info

Donation Total: $20.00

Explore more articles:

Leave a Comment

Sign up for our Newsletter