Torrey Pines written over the stop-motion colourful picture of a blonde person at a beach

INTERVIEW: Filmmaker Clyde Peterson Talks Debut Film ‘Torrey Pines’

In advance of the screening of stop-motion film ‘Torrey Pines’, we caught up with it’s creator Clyde Peterson to find out more about it


Torrey Pines is the feature film debut from Seattle-based trans artist, Clyde Petersen. The film will be screened on Monday March 27 at 8:30pm in the IFI. The IFI described the film in a press release:


Torrey Pines is a queer punk coming-of-age tale, set in Southern California in the early 1990s, which touches on issues of mental health and gender identity. In the film, Petersen recounts a road trip across America with his schizophrenic mother when he was 12 years old. His mother left with Clyde without the knowledge of his father, who then reported the child kidnapped. Subtle and moving, it’s also laced with humour, best exemplified by a scene in which the two attend a Whitney Houston concert.”

Torrey Pines is both a complete feature film, and a touring theatrical show. With a soundtrack produced by Chris Walla, the live theatrical version will have a score performed by Petersen’s musical collective Your Heart Breaks.


Below is the official trailer for Petersen’s film.



In advance of the screening, we got in touch with Petersen to find out more about him, his début film, and his creative process.


1. Can you tell us a little bit about the origin of Torrey Pines and how the film came about?

The film is an autobiographical tale about living with my mom who is schizophrenic. I grew up for a time in Southern California, north of San Diego, down the street from Torrey Pines State Park and beach. I spent a great deal of time at the State Park as a young person.

When I began to think about making a feature film, I wanted to tell a tale that I knew intimately. So I chose to make an autobiographical coming-of-age film.


2. Did you ever consider filming it as live action, or was it always conceived as a animation feature?

These days I am primarily a stop-motion animator so it made the most sense to proceed in that fashion, working at my own pace in a small studio with one employee and seven interns for 3 years.

I am working on a new film that is a documentary and is not animated though. Regardless of the medium, my primary interest is documenting music, art and history.


3. Where did the concept of having live musical accompaniment originate?

I was lucky enough to see Guy Maddin’s Brand Upon the Brain with live foley, narration and live score as well as a version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, live soundtracked by Stephen Merritt from the Magnetic Fields and Lemony Snicket author Daniel Handler. These have been two of my favorite events related to film.

I have been in many bands that tour frequently, and it seemed like the obvious choice to bring my band on the road to score the film. It’s rare these days, and it is very enjoyable.


4. Has being trans created any particular challenges working in the film industry?

I live in Seattle, Washington, home of Nirvana and coffee with weather much like Dublin. Seattle has many great filmmakers and it’s own scene, full of weirdos and queers. We make our own path for the most part.

There are people in the scene who are part of the industry, but as they become more part of the industry, they often work more and more in LA.

I recently worked with Rhys Ernest on a series of films about transgender people throughout history, for a project originating in LA. But most often, my work is making music videos for primarily Northwest bands. Though recently I made a new video for Kelley Deal’s new band, R. Ring and New York QPOC band Aye Nako.


5. What films have inspired your career the most?

Harry Dodge and Silas Howard’s By Hook or by Crook.
Wes Anderson’s Life Aquatic.
John Waters’s Cecil B. Demented .
Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight.
Justin Kelly’s King Cobra.
Christopher Cain’s Pure Country .
Aaron Lipstadt’s Pair of Aces .


6. Which directors, artists or creators that have influenced you?

John Waters, Kimya Dawson, Wes Anderson, Willie Nelson, John K. Sampson, Ivan Coyote, Rae Spoon, Amanda Kirkhuff.


7. What can we look forward to next?

I am writing a script for a new animated feature and working on a music documentary, but this year I’m mostly touring Torrey Pines all over the world with the live band.


Torrey Pines cine-concert will take place on Monday March 27 at 8:30pm. Tickets for this cine-concert are available from or by calling the IFI Box Office on 01 6795744 for €10.

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