What sets the film apart from other gay teen films, is its refreshing display of pride. There aren't any victims here, just regular gay boys in need of some serious gay booty. And proud of it.
"To me, I feel like a community has arrived when you can finally make fun of yourself," says Todd Stephens, who made his debut with 1998's Edge of Seventeen. "I've written coming out movies and I guess I just wanted to move beyond being victimised for being gay. It's sort of like, 'Get over it', that's my attitude. We're just being silly and trying to make people laugh."
And laugh they did. The movie had a successful theatrical run in the US. It also screened at numerous films festivals, snagging a Grand Jury Award at LA's Outfest along the way.
Fans keep building thanks, in part, to a strong internet presence (there are more than 12,700 friends currently on MySpace).
The funny thing is, I was actually very angry when I wrote Another Gay Movie. After the relative success of Edge of Seventeen, I had loads of trouble getting my next film (Gypsy 83) out into the world. Despite the fact that festival audiences seemed warm to our little movie, distributors said they didn't know what the movie poster was (who knew a gay, Goth, fag hag, Stevie Nicks road movie would be such a tough sell?!). They also said the film wasn't "gay enough."
I remember standing in my underwear folding laundry with my boyfriend (and co-story writer Tim Kaltenecker) and discussing how frustrated we were with the current state of gay cinema. How, as much as we love angsty coming-of-age dramas and homo-romantic comedies, the queer genre really needed a kick in the ass. Tim said, "What if we made a gay Scary Movie?"
"How 'bout a gay Porky's?" I replied. "They want something gay? Let's make the GAYEST FILM EVER MADE."
Thankfully, George Bush proved to be a huge inspiration. Completely disgusted with the right wing agenda and FCC crackdowns, I decided I wanted to really shake things up. I popped my hero John Waters's Female Trouble in for inspiration and vowed to flip censorship the bird.
Easier said than done. Trying to get the film produced proved to be a real challenge. I optioned the script to a producer who swore he was down for making the no-holds-barred film I had in my head. But after more than a year of development, when the time came actually shoot the film he wanted to completely water it down. I got myself out of the option and waited to make it the way I wanted.
Thank God for my best friend Jesse Adams. Jess and I have known each other since our teens, and he helped with my first two films (including saving the day by finding locations on Edge). Another Gay Movie would not have happened without Jesse's unfailing passion and dedication. The same can be said for our distributor, TLA Releasing, who co-financed the film and agreed to release it unrated. Together with capital from our fabulous independent investors, Jesse and I were off to Los Angeles to make a movie.
Inspired by the idealized Southern California suburban dream, I developed a look for the film which I dubbed "Tomorrowland Today." I wanted to set the picture in a world that not only WILL be, but should have ALWAYS BEEN. Kind of a retro-modern "Brady Bunch." Thanks to my wonderful collaborators, including Production Designer Chris Miller, D.P. Carl Bartels, and costume Designer Jim Hansen, I could not be happier with how we pushed the boundaries of our low budget to achieve the dream look. All in sixteen days.
I think working with so many talented (and fearless) actors was my greatest joy. It took forever to assemble the four lead boys, but once we were shooting I sat in awe as they played and improvised the script to the next level. I specifically wanted to cast out gay actors, and working with icons like Scott Thompson and Graham Norton was a dream come true. The icing on the cake was having my all-time idol Nancy Sinatra sing the theme song Marty Beller and I wrote, "Another Gay Sunshine Day."
There is a line in Nancy's song that goes "Chickens will dance with bears." In the fine teen movie tradition, we checked political correctness at the door and play with stereotypes. But I tried to flip those archetypes to my advantage. In my world, the sissy can actually go on a date with the muscle man (and is allowed to get laid -- for once!), the big bulldyke is a cheerleader magnet and the gay nerd has a chance with the Abercrombie jock boy. I long for a world where gay folks of all shapes, colors and sexes mix and play together. A "new rainbow Milky Way..."
While I was in LA, I had the privilege of living at the Ravenswood...in an apartment literally one door down from Mae West's residence of fifty years. Mae was my first gay-boy icon, and I always loved the way she reveled in her sexuality. In the spirit of Miss West, I set out to make a film where gay sexuality could be both celebrated and poked fun of (and there is certainly a LOT of poking goin' on here!). And, like Mae, my main goal was to make people LAUGH.
Between the cracks, I tried to create a galaxy hopefully not so far-far away. Where no one is tormented, tortured, or agonizes about who they are. Where "gay" is as normal as the "Brady Bunch," and queer virgins want the same thing as their straight counterparts - to get LAID! I set out to make the film I desperately wanted as a gay teen and the film Jerry Falwell desperately wants to ban.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
TODD STEPHENS (Writer/director) Todd grew up on rollercoasters and ketchup and bologna sandwiches in the Lake Erie "Vacationland" of Sandusky, Ohio. In 1998, Todd wrote and produced Edge of Seventeen, based on his coming-out experience and filmed in his Ohio hometown. Edge was awarded numerous festival prizes including Best Picture at both The San Francisco International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and at Outfest, where Todd also picked up the prize for Best Screenplay. Edge also screened at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically to rave reviews and sell-out crowds. The film was nominated for both an Independent Spirit Award and a GLAAD Media Award.
Next up, Todd wrote, produced and directed the feature Gypsy 83, starring Sara Rue (ABC's "Less Than Perfect"), Kett Turton and lifelong idol Karen Black. Also the recipient of numerous festival awards and glowing reviews, the film commenced a theatrical release April 2004 and was released on DVD/video the following November. Based on his work in Gypsy, Todd was named one of Filmmaker magazine's "25 New Filmmakers to Watch." Todd wrote The Dana Rivers Story for Lifetime Television and Storyline Entertainment (Academy Award-winning Producers Neil Meron & Craig Zadan).
In March 2005, Todd wrapped the outrageous feature Another Gay Movie, which he again wrote, produced and directed. Starring Michael Carbonaro, Scott Thompson and Graham Norton, the film will be distributed theatrically by TLA Releasing in 2006.
ABOUT THE CAST
Andy Wilson can be best described as your typical, innocent teenager. Typical in that there is only one thing on his mind: sex. "I decided to play Andy like a lustful, panting and perpetually erect puppy dog," Carbonaro, 25, tells AXN. "I just had to go back to the time when 95% of your brain is just thinking about sex and you're perpetually hard and that's all you can think about. And that's why he keeps finding himself in wacky little situations where he thinks too much, says too much,or does too much because his hormones are a raging."
And raging they are, to the point of critical mass. In his quest to find the meaning of gay sex, we see Andy try and get intimate with the inanimate, and often with disastrous results. Cucumbers, carrots, quiche lorraine - nothing is sacred. It makes for hilarious viewing, as most embarrassing situations do.
Of course, for Michael, hilarity and comedy are not strange territories. In 2003, he starred in the
comedy A Tale of Two Pizzas, a film about two feuding pizza-making families, and has appeared on the smash series, Chappelle's Show on Comedy Central. He also starred in an off-Broadway comedy Jewtopia and regularly performs stand-up comedy.
Doing a role like Andy can, literally speaking, reveal a lot about an actor, and in Another Gay Movie, there's no shortage of scenes of Michael in the nude. Surely many a gay man has expressed interest. "Oh my gosh. I get tons of mail on MySpace," he says. "And they go anywhere from, 'Oh your performance was wonderful' to, 'Come over and stick it in me'.
Yet, while responses like those garner a smile, and a laugh, there are also those who glean at his
character with a critical eye. "When people respond that we're perpetuating a stereotype, I feel like maybe they didn't get the joke," he says. "Because it's a parody of those kinds of stereotypical movies that we see in the straight world, about a bunch of teenagers trying to get laid. I think what we have here is, 'Yeah it's a bunch of stereotypes and it's a big naughty cartoon in a way but … they're also four real people."
Jonah Blechman, 33, plays Nico, the indie-film expert that also happens to be the token effeminate gay boy. Make-up, glam accessories, sashaying hips, you know the drill. His is a character that defies conventions; gay conventions, that is.
"He was so outlandish and initially, I was like, I would never want to be that gay," Blechman tells
AXN. "But I guess what I really liked about him was that I got to bump it up to this level."
And indeed Blechman did, several levels in fact. "I really felt like sexualising this role, which is not an archetype that people really sexualise, and to bring sexuality with the sissy and to play around with that. It ended up being so much fun. It's just giddy and light. It was a pleasure to be
Playing outlandish characters is nothing new for Blechman. In 2003, he played the title role in a production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He has also appeared opposite Leonardo DiCaprio as eccentric gay boy, Arthur, in This Boy's Life.
He has written, directed and produced several projects, including Another Gay Movie, of which he was the Executive Producer.
So how have his gay fans reacted to Nico? Or more to the point, any offers? "You know what, it's funny because a lot of people don't recognise me," he says. "I don't have dyed hair. I'm not really that hyper and excited and everything in real life. None of them notice, at least, when people are hitting on me. I do invite it though. Please come and play."
Playing a jock that's pure stud and hunky is one thing, but to play a jock that's pure stud, hunky and gay is another. So it's no surprise that when Jonathan Chase, 27, got the script for Another Gay Movie, he felt a hint of trepidation. "On the first page, [the script] compares some scenes of the film to Porky's, American Pie and all the Scary Movies, and it talks about how far the movie's going to go," he tells AXN. "It's kind of like a clause. I don't know if I was scared or excited, but by the time I got to the end I laughed out loud more than I had in a long time and I was just hoping I'd get that part."
Chase got it alright, and he nailed it to a tee. "On the outside, Jarod's pretty much a good looking
jock, who does whatever he wants, the kind that people want to have," he says. "But on the inside, underneath it all, he's someone who is pretending to be the one who's gotten laid, had all the action and lived the life. Now he's coming to terms with the frustration of it all. It's all been about him and how he deals with the pressure of having to live up to the jock. But really, underneath, there's more there."
Chase is referring to a significant strand in the film's storyline, in which a romance develops between Jarod and Griff, played by Mitch Morris. It's an unexpected twist, especially considering that the two characters - a jock and a nerd - are archetypes - not normally associated with love. Instead they are usually afflicted with an inability to achieve love, or find it.
For Chase, who has appeared in programs such as Monk, Medium and Veronica Mars, this added tenderness to a film that's so intent on pushing buttons. "I think this movie pushed the envelope and that's what's great about it," he says. "And the whole time I was doing it, I was just like, 'This is going to be so funny when I see it.' Yet, a lot of it is not funny for me and Mitch's storyline - a lot of it is also heartfelt."
"When I first read the script I actually had a night job at a hotel on Sunset Boulevard," says Mitch Morris, 27. "So my agent emailed the script to me during the day and by the time I got around to reading it, it was two o'clock in the morning. I was at the front desk of the hotel reading it online because there was nothing to do ... and I was just laughing out loud constantly." No doubt he was laughing, among other things, at the antics of his character, the nerdy yet closeted romantic, Griff.
"Griff is an unfunny funny guy," Morris says. "He thinks he's really funny but he's totally dorky.
But he's just really sweet and he just wants to have a good time."
And a good time he has, especially with Jarod (played by Jonathan Chase). The two best friends in the movie soon unearth amorous feelings for each other. "I think Griff is the character the audience can most relate to the most because everything that's happening to Andy (Michael Carbonaro) is so outrageous. But Griff is also the love story, which everyone can just relate to, especially if you have feelings for your best friend, which a lot of people probably do. So between Griff and Jared there's kind of a more realistic element to the movie as well, with their love story."
Some straight actors may find it diffi cult to get intimate with another male character, but not so for Morris. "Actors want a great job and I like doing a lot of great things," he says. "I also had a recurring role on Queer as Folk, so [playing gay] wasn't a foreign concept to me. I thought it was a great opportunity and it would be really fun and it was all those things."
And how has he found the response, particularly from gay fans? "The response has been great.
The enthusiasm is so high. I thought when I was making this movie, it would be very small. And it's turned out more than I would ever imagine that it would.
"I've had a lot of fun … although people always want to grab my ass. The whole ass storyline, people just want to squeeze it."
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