Nigel Barker reveals the 'long shot' first feature film he's working on


Nigel Barker has worn many hats throughout his storied career, and he's looking to expand his career as a filmmaker in the near future as he works on his "long shot" first feature film.

SEE ALSO: Sundance Film Festival 2017: Weekend 1 diary

When I caught up with the famed fashion photographer and former "America's Next Top Model" judge at Chase Sapphire on Main during the first weekend of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, he told me that he's working on a film about David Mixner, a lesser-known gay rights political activist.

For more on Mixner, as well as Barker's thoughts on Sundance, working with Chase and more, read our conversation below.

See photos of Nigel Barker:

Check out my full conversation with Nigel Barker below:

Talk to me about how you got involved with Chase and what you're collaborating on at Sundance.

I first got involved with Chase pretty much when they first launched the [Chase Sapphire Reserve] card. I've been a Chase customer since I came to the United States, and I've been here for 19 years. I travel a lot; I'm a photographer; I'm on the road pretty much 7 months of the year. They figured that this card is particularly great for travel, and people that travel a lot and enjoy the perks of travel.

So, that was my initial involvement with them -- with the launch of the card -- and now, of course, they are having an activation at Sundance, which was great for me in particular. My first film that I got involved with, we actually showed at Sundance many years ago. I've also been back many times as a movie lover and photographer and as a filmmaker. We've been talking to a lot of people and interviewing the casts and crews of the great films that Chase Sapphire on Main actually hosts, and they have after-parties here.

And the energy at Sundance is so unique.

It's absolutely contagious. It's a very special time. There's something about this location -- it's such a small town, and the weather is extreme. The films are independent, so there's this sort of maverick feeling among the filmmakers themselves. People that come here aren't here for the action movies; they're here for the storytelling. And that's very exciting. I think that everyone takes themselves seriously here, but they also have serious fun. You can hit the slopes, you can eat well, you can party well, you can watch great movies. And it's all in a compact area.

Something that's truly in the air this year is that the festival is full of socially-conscious, politically-inclined films. And that's something you've done before, too.

Absolutely. Now, more so than ever, the films picked for Sundance have been deep and sometimes heavy, but important and poignant. I was actually speaking to a director last night from "Yellow Birds," a war film that's somewhat controversial, and he's a French director who was talking about how important it is to create films that provoke people to think about what's happening in the world. Especially at a time right now, where the United States is especially split -- or divided, rather -- and people are marching in the streets. I think that film needs to resonate with what's happening in the world and make people realize that they need to get up and be heard and not just sit back. The films picked for Sundance this year reflect that.

Are you working on any films yourself now?

I am actually working on a film that's a long shot, in a way, for me -- I would love to do my first feature-film. I've been working with an incredible man named David Mixner, who has an incredible story. He's a gay-rights activist from the political side of things, which you rarely hear about. He had a very prolific career in politics, and he's an author, as well. He's written multiple books about his experience.

He came out in the '70s in a very hard way where he was sort of forced out: The CIA and FBI and all kinds of people were following him and trying to trap him. He grew up during a time where you could be lobotomized for being gay. He was thrown out of his home by his family who didn't want him anymore. He then went into politics and worked with the black panthers, who had no idea he was gay. If they had known, they would've kicked him out, too, because they were maybe the most homophobic group at the time. His story is extraordinary, and he's an amazing man to this day. It's fantastic to be working on a story with someone who's actually living, too!

See photos from the 2017 Sundance Film Festival:

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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