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Entries in Film (57)

Tuesday
Oct312017

Call Answered: Bryan Powers: "Time is the Longest Distance"

Bryan PowersLast week I went to NewFest, NYC's premiere GLBT film festival, because I wanted to see Sam Greisman's film Dinner with Jeffrey. What I discovered during the "Boy Shorts" viewing were some other remarkable movies such as Time is the Longest Distance, a film about an estranged son’s journey to reconnect with his Alzheimer’s-stricken father, and the teenage boy he meets along the way.

As someone who's gay and lost a grandparent to dementia, I connected to this film on many levels. Bryan Powers wrote & directed a powerful short that rightfully so is getting rave reviews at film festivals around the world. Time is the Longest Distance was accepted into over 20 film festivals and so far has won "Best LGBT Film" in the Toronto Independent Film Festival" and "Best Student Film" in the West Virginia FILMmakers Festival.

Time is the Longest Distance will next be screened at the following festivals:

Kansas International Film Festival (All In The Family Shorts) on November 5 at 2:45pm

Yonkers Film Festival (Westchester Shorts 1) on November 8 at 6:30pm

Rome International Film Festival on November 10 at 4:30pm

Monarch Film Festival (Student Block) on December 2 at 2:15pm

For more on Time is the Longest Distance visit https://powersproductions.wordpress.com and follow the film on Facebook!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a filmmaker? My father managed movie theatres when I was growing up and I spent countless hours watching, and re-watching, whatever he was screening. The cinema was my babysitter and the movies my playmates. Dad was also a journalist and progressed from theatre management to film critic. We attended many films together and I would accompany him back to the newspaper where he’d type up his reviews. Discussing, and sometimes arguing over, films with my dad gave me an appreciation for movies as not just a form of entertainment, but as a form of art.

I originally pursued acting, but had to pay the bills and ended up in retail sales, which led to an unexpected career in retail visual merchandising. However, my love of cinema never diminished and I was always watching whatever I could and constantly reading about film and filmmakers. It was my long-delayed discovery of the films of Francois Truffaut, specifically The 400 Blows, that led to me returning to school to pursue my BA in Film. Something about the humanistic approach of Truffaut’s storytelling really inspired me. Additionally, Truffaut's own story, of growing up with a love of film, becoming a critic, and then choosing to make films also influenced my decision. Although I initially thought I would just pursue editing, which I still consider my favorite part of fimmaking, completing a thesis film that I had written and directed was required for my MFA studies at City College of New York. It was a big challenge, despite having made some previous, smaller shorts, but I am so happy I was forced out of my comfort zone or a dark editing room and forced to be the one making all the decisions — from conception to production, to post-production. It resulted in my film, Time is the Longest Distance and I am now anxious to tackle new projects as a writer/director/editor.

Claudia Murdoch, Bryan Powers, and Andreas Damm NewFest NYC 2017, Photo Credit: Emilio Seri2. I just saw your latest short film, Time is the Longest Distance at NYC's NewFest. It was so powerful and beautiful. The film is based upon your own relationship with your father. When did you initially have the idea to make this film? How long did it take  you from idea to completion? Thank you for the compliments. I am so pleased you were moved by the film. The script’s inception arose from applying to grad schools and trying to come up with ideas for what would make a good thesis film. Many grad schools want to know from the start that you have a viable concept for what might become your thesis. As with most films I’ve made, the script started with images. While some of these where too complex and didn’t end up in the final film, they mostly concerned the passage of time, the change of seasons, and the transient nature of life. From there, I took narrative elements from my own life to develop characters and potential situations where those characters would be in conflict, or would somehow influence one another.

Originally, the character of "Xander," the teenager who finds himself pulled into the story of a stranger trying to reconnect with his Alzheimer’s-suffering father, had a story line of his own. He had his own issues with his father and the chance encounter with "Jack" in the film also worked to help him though his issues. But it’s a short. I had to focus the story and narrow it down a bit.

As part of my MFA studies, the first draft of the film was completed in December of 2014 and then workshopped for months. After casting and pre-production work, we shot on location in the Bronx in the fall of 2015 and the final version of the film for City College was finished by May of 2016. After that, we spent additional post-production time on color correction and an original score, both of which were done pro-bono so I had to wait until those artists had the time to make their contributions. Our first festival screening of the final version of the film took place in April of this year.

3. How did you partner with Cup of Joe Film for this release? What did they get about your film that perhaps another film company did not? I placed an ad, seeking a producer on Mandy.com, a job listing site for film professionals. I had very limited funds to offer, but hoped to find someone that was looking for experience and believed in the script — connected to it deeply enough to dedicate long hours on the project without any expectation of real financial reward. Surprisingly, I had a good amount of applicants. A couple meetings with a couple of them were rescheduled, for whatever reason, and Claudia Murdoch was the first producer I was able to meet. She was also the last. We had an immediate connection — Claudia having switched careers around the same age as myself, and having a personal connection to the storyline of caring for a loved one with dementia. She was also very organized and outgoing. I’m organized, but am more reserved. I needed Claudia’s fearlessness to make the connections, to find the locations, to deal with all the "wheeling and dealing," for lack of a better phrase, that gave me such anxiety. I must say, finding and choosing Claudia was the best thing that happened to the film. I’m confident that it wouldn’t have had the success it’s had without Claudia and Cup of Joe’s unending dedication.

Time is the Longest Distance4. What was the hardest part of the film for you to write? The encounter between "Adam" and his father was tricky. I didn’t want it to be too predictable or too melodramatic, but I also needed it to pack an emotional punch. Getting the dialogue right and dramatizing the moment visually — the awkwardness of "Adam" in trying to get-up his courage and his dad "Jack’s" business with the radio, turning up the volume, which leads to "Adam" taking action. That whole scene was difficult to edit as well — finding the right rhythm and knowing when to to cut to the reaction shots of each character when the encounter goes south.

5. What did you learn about yourself from making this film that you didn't know going through these events? If you mean what I learned making a film based on aspects of events from my own life, I’m not sure. That’s not something I think I’ve really considered. I guess I’ve learned that I need to try to take advantage of time in my own life. It’s cliche, but there really is no time like the present. And the present is all we have. I may say that I’ve learned this, but I can’t say I’ve fully embraced it or put it into action. I’m still great at procrastination. I’m trying to improve. I’m trying. Maybe tomorrow I’ll improve.

6. Time is the Longest Distance has been accepted into over 20 film festivals. It has won "Best LGBT Film" in the Toronto Independent Film Festival" and "Best Student Film" in the West Virginia FILMmakers Festival. What is it like to have your film not only accepted into these festivals, but then to win these awards? Do you need these accolades to know you made a good film? Did I make a good film? Just kidding...but not totally. I, like most artists, I think, tend to focus on what could be better. I still see all the imperfections in the film — most that are probably not even noticed by the average viewer, especially if the narrative works and they are drawn into the story of the film. Is there such a thing as a confident artist? Aren’t we all plagued by insecurities? Or is that just me? I imagine Tarantino doesn’t doubt his own brilliance. But all joking aside, I was happy to get the film into one festival — being accepted into so many and winning awards? That has been amazing. I was confident in the story I was telling and in most aspects of how we told it, but I could never have imagined that the film would have been embraced and praised by so many others.

7. What has been the most heartbreaking story you've heard from viewers after a screening? What has been a comment that just made your whole face light up and you still think about today? It’s been very touching to hear so many stories from viewers who themselves have been touched by Alzheimer’s and who tell me how much the portrayal of the father in the film rang true to them. After the film’s second screening at NewFest, I had a lovely gentleman come up to me and tell me how he loved how the film demonstrates some of the family’s resistance, conscious or not, to letting the father live in his own reality and how the film’s resolution comes from a moment when the family does allow the dad, without interruption, to live out what is real to him.

If I can share his story of his own mother who had Alzheimer’s, he told me he eventually came to the realization that it wasn’t productive, it didn’t help his mother or provide her any comfort, if he constantly tried to correct her. He realized she was much happier when he participated in her misconceptions, her perception of reality. One day (and I may not have the story exactly right) she asked him, "Who’s your mother?" He replied enthusiastically, "Who would you like to be my mother?" She responded, "Well, I’d like to be your mother." That broke and warmed my heart at the same time. I was so happy he took the time to find me and share his experience with me after the film.

"Time is the Longest Distance"8. As someone who lost a grandparent to dementia, watching your film, Time is the Longest Distance, brought up so many memories of my grandmother, especially when her memory was going. What was the toughest part for you, watching your dad's memory decline? Being that my dad was an avid reader and writer, it was hard to see him lose those abilities. With the loss of his short term memory, he could no longer hold the thoughts of what he has just read and couldn’t make it past a paragraph or two. The same was true of films, which he loved. He began to like simpler films, where the moments of each scene as they happen could provide him some joy, but where he didn’t have to comprehend the film as a whole. As far as his writing, I have a journal of his, written over several months. I’ve never been able to read the whole thing; it’s too heartbreaking. In addition to the frustration expressed in his writing, in not being able to put his thoughts into words, you can see the frustration in his actual penmanship; the writing becomes larger and more erratic. It’s tough to see that — a physical document and demonstration of his thoughts and emotions.

9. What is the fondest memory you have of your dad? I have so many. I get my height from my dad, but he was a bit stockier through most of his life, until the final years. He gave great hugs. I miss his hugs. Towards the end, despite him losing so much of what made him who he was, despite me never being sure if he recognized me or other members of my family, his love for my mom only grew stronger. That never went away. He never forgot his Betty and seeing her always brought him the most joy. She may have grown irritated at times by his constant declarations of love for her, but it was beautiful. They met in high school and were together for 60 years. I tried to show that love between the parents in my film.

10. After this round of festival screenings is over, what are the next steps for this film? Do you want to expand it to full feature? Or do you feel it's meant to be a short and you will focus on new projects? There’s definitely a feature in there. As I mentioned, I have a whole story for "Xander" and would love to explore his story before and after it intersects with "Adam’s." If I could find the time, and the financing, to expand it into a feature, I would love to take on that challenge. I’ve written two new shorts over the last few months, one that deals with the generational differences between the men who survived the AIDS crisis and the current generation of gay men who no longer see AIDS as a real threat. I would love to get that film into production. Traveling to several LGBTQ film festivals with Time is the Longest Distance, I’ve become aware of how a large percentage of the festivals’ audiences are men of a certain age. I think they long to see their stories on screen. And I think they deserve to be represented.

Bryan Powers at NewFest NYC 2017, Photo Credit: Emilio SeriMore on Bryan:

Bryan’s informal film education started early, as the son of a cinema manager and film critic. In 2016 Bryan obtained his MFA in film from the City College of New York. Previously, Bryan graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Film from Hunter College where he received a scholarship from BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) and was nominated for Marshall and Fulbright Scholarships. In addition to being the editor on many projects, Bryan has also written & directed several shorts and has worked as an Assistant Director, Sound Recordist, Boom Operator, and Sound Editor on numerous others. Bryan’s past jobs in post-production include positions at DCTV and Tribeca Film Institute.

Thursday
Sep282017

Call Answered: Sam Greisman: "Dinner with Jeffrey" at NewFest LGBT Film Festival

Sam GreismanSometimes a tweet by Sally Field, one of your idols, about her son's film, leads to your next interview. "October 21st. My son's (@SAMGREIS) funny, touching short is playing at @NewFestNYC. Go see it if you can!" After I took a look at the film's description, I called & Sam Greisman answered.

Sam Greisman is a rising film writer/director. As excited as he was I asked for an interview, I'm even more delighted to provide a platform to promote his film Dinner with Jeffrey, which he wrote & directed about a teen who's struggling after coming out when his gay uncle tries to teach him about the "gay lifestyle."

It was great talking with Sam about this film, learning about his creative process, coming out struggles, and so much more!

Dinner with Jeffrey will be playing in NewFest, NYC's premiere LGBT film festival on Saturday, October 21 at 11am in their Shorts Program: Boy Shorts at Cinépolis Chelsea (260 West 23rd Street, between 7th & 8th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Sam follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a writer/producer/director? Well, my whole family is in the business in some form or other. So I'm not sure if one individual person inspired me to be in film. It's really just all I know. What I grew up with. The only way I know how to live, basically.

2. This October, your short film, Dinner with Jeffrey, is part of NewFest, New York's LBGT Film festival. What made you want to write Dinner with Jeffrey as a short as opposed to a feature film? I wrote and directed Dinner with Jeffrey as part of my coursework at Columbia Film School - I graduate in May. So it wasn't really an option to make this as anything other than a short, that was really just how the concept came about.

3. Why did you want it to be part of NewFest? What do you feel this film festival will offer your short that another one might not? I know NewFest has a really great reputation among the LGBT community. They show a lot of great stuff and I'm really just glad to be included with all the other work. I'm pretty new to getting my stuff out there, so any opportunity, especially in New York is huge.

Owen Campbell in "Dinner with Jeffrey"4. Dinner with Jeffrey is about a young teen who is struggling to fit in after just coming out when his uncle tries to teach him about the "gay lifestyle." What was the most challenging part of the short to write and was was the easiest? Well, the short is based on something that happened to me shortly after I came out at 19, so I guess most of the dinner stuff was the easiest, but taking reality and turning it into something that felt like a story was definitely the challenge.

5. What did you learn about your own coming out experience from writing this short that you didn't know while you were going through it? I'm not sure that I learned this while making it, but I definitely think it's the message of the film and I learned it as I was coming out, which is that coming out doesn't necessarily mean one's own work is done. There's still a lot of figuring out and messiness happening. That's kind of what the short is about.

Reed Birney and Javier Spivey in "Dinner with Jeffrey"6. Looking back, I think, one of the funniest things my dad said to me, though at the time, this was him processing what I just told him, my dad said, "So you would rather look at a picture of a naked man instead of a naked woman?" and I said, "Yes." He said, "Ok." What was something, that looking back, you felt was the funniest thing one of your parents said to you after you came out, but at the time it was their way of processing that you were gay? I think my parents processed the fact that I was gay by the time I was five years old, so I kinda wish I could hear what they were saying to each other and my brothers about it then, because by the time I came out, they were more like "Ok, great, good job, lets go eat." Although when I was twenty, my grandmother did ask me if I had "taken a lover yet" and when I told her "Eww, please don't use that word," she said "why that's what all my friends called it when were in our 20s" (which was sometime in the 40s), which I thought was pretty cool.

7. How do you feel this short will help teens with their own coming out? Ha. I'm not sure that this film will help teens with their coming out, honestly. I think it's something someone should watch after they come out. Maybe future films of mine will deal with the actual coming out process and all that entails.

Javier Spivey and Owen Campbell in "Dinner with Jeffrey"8. Like the main character, "Oliver," who feels he must change who he is to fit in with the gays, was there a time in your life when you felt you had to change who you were to fit in? When did you realize you are perfect just the way you are? I definitely remember feeling VERY conflicted when I was in my teens. Realizing I was gay and really the only kids I knew that were out, didn't share my interests and I felt like I had to fit into some kind of stereotype because I was gay and I couldn't just be myself. I also think the early 2000s were such a different time than now, which is saying something since it hasn't been that long at all. I'm not sure if I ever felt perfect just the way I am, but only cuz I am naturally a very anxious person.

Owen Campbell and Javier Spivey in "Dinner with Jeffrey"9. If you had to describe Dinner with Jeffrey with a Madonna, Cher, Lady Gaga, Dolly Parton, & Cyndi Lauper song, what songs of theirs would you use? Wow. I don't think any of them have songs that basically just mean, everyone is the worst and life sucks. But if they did I would choose that one, cuz that's the best way to describe the film ha. I'm sure Gaga will get around to a song like that eventually. If she gets to like, a Joni Mitchell phase or something.

10. Since the short is called Dinner with Jeffrey, if could you have dinner with 5 of your favorite gay icons/influencers, who would you invite? What would you serve? And some would say, most importantly, what would you wear? Tough. Truman Capote, Laura Dern, Jane Fonda, Reese Witherspoon (she's on her way to being a gay icon) and Troye Sivan (cuz I have a crush on him). I wouldn't serve food. All booze and weed.

Sam GreismanMore on Sam:

29-year-old Sam Greisman grew up in West Los Angeles and has lived in New York City for the last nine years, since he moved there to attend undergrad at NYU. After years of running from the pressure of the family business, every member of his immediate family is in someway involved with television or filmmaking in some capacity, he discovered that storytelling is inescapably in his DNA.

He is currently in his thesis years as a Screenwriting/Directing concentrate at Columbia University. So far his scripts and films have dealt with his experiences as a young gay man, a very cynical young gay man and his feelings of not fitting in with the gay community.

Friday
Apr142017

Call Answered: Robert L. Camina: Upstairs Inferno Documentary

Robert L. CaminaThe thing I love most about Facebook is the way it connects people. Robert L. Camina and I have been friends for a few years, so when I found out he was a filmmaker and that his new documentary Upstairs Inferno, about the deadly 1973 New Orleans gay bar arson was the subject, I called Robert and he answered. It was really great connecting with Robert in this way. From this interview, I learned so much about him, his filmmaking process, and more about this tragic time in gay history that is not very well known.

Upstairs Inferno is a poignant and timely documentary chronicling the deadly 1973 New Orleans gay bar arson: an event that remained the Largest Gay Mass Murder in U.S. History for 43 years. Upstairs Inferno is the most comprehensive and authoritative film about the fire and its aftermath. Upstairs Inferno brings humanity to the headlines by shining a light on the very painful effect the tragedy had on survivors, witnesses and loved ones. Their interviews are gut wrenching, yet insightful. Some of the people interviewed in the film haven't publicly discussed the fire until now, especially on camera. The film is narrated by New Orleans' own New York Times Best Selling Author, Christopher Rice.

Upstairs Inferno will be making its NYC premiere in the Manhattan Film Festival on Monday, April 24 with two screenings: 5pm (just added) & 7pm (SOLD OUT) at Cinema Village (22 East 12th Street). The 7pm screening will be followed by a Q&A conducted by Robert himself. Click here for tickets!

For more on Robert be sure to visit http://www.caminaentertainment.com!

For more on Upstairs Inferno be sure to visit http://www.UpstairsInferno.com and follow the film on Facebook and Twitter!

1. Your latest documentary, Upstairs Inferno, documents the deadly 1973 New Orleans gay bar arson that was the largest gay mass murder for 43 years, until Pulse Nightclub. Why did you want to make a documentary about this tragic event? When I first heard about this tragedy a few years ago, I was shocked. I had never heard of it. The arson was a benchmark moment in history, but it wasn't part of the common LGBT history narrative. I felt that needed to change.  I wanted to educate audiences about this little known event and honor the victims and people affected by the deadly fire.

I didn't want to create a stagnant documentary, with only an exposition of facts. Through very honest and intimate interviews, I wanted to humanize the story and show the real impact the fire had on the victims' friends, families and the LGBT movement. It's easy to trivialize a situation when you gloss over a headline in a newspaper (or a Facebook post). There is something about SEEING and HEARING the story from those who experienced an event, that truly makes it "real." That's what possesses the potential to create change.

The victims are more than statistics, more then names in a newspaper clipping or even names on a plaque. These were unfinished lives, tragically cut short by a senseless act. The victims and their families and friends left to cope with the aftermath deserved better treatment than what they got. I thought, if I have an opportunity to provide any sort of legacy or light for them, I wanted to try.

Up Stairs Lounge2. The arson of the Up Stairs Lounge was the largest gay mass murder for 43 years. Why do you feel this story is not talked about as much as say The Stonewall Riots? You're right. This story hasn't been talked about much and I believe it was nearly forgotten. But why? I think it was because people directly affected by the fire didn't want to talk about it. The impression that I got was that people were embarrassed or ashamed to talk about the tragedy. The fire did not launch a revolution and the little activism that was spawned from the tragedy, fizzled out very quickly. I'm told that it didn't take long before New Orleans saw an indifference within the community after the fire. (However, there are mixed opinions on whether the fire was a birth of gay rights activism in New Orleans, which is something we explore in UPSTAIRS INFERNO.) Also, you have families that didn't claim their dead children. As a collective community, that is shameful and embarrassing. You also have a prime suspect who is a member of the LGBT community. Evidence points to the fact that this horrific crime was committed by one of our own. Furthermore, there isn't any official closure. Police weren't able to charge anyone with the crime. While the evidence points to a primary suspect committing the crime, there is no justice. Lastly, I think few people know about the story because it's been too painful for victims to talk about.

Up Stairs Lounge3. How do you feel the arson of the Up Stairs Lounge and the shooting at Pulse Nightclub are parallel of each other? For nearly 43 years, the June 24, 1973 arson at the Up Stairs Lounge, an event that claimed 32 lives, was considered "The Largest Gay Mass Murder in U.S. History." It’s with tremendous grief, we recognize that's no longer the case. With 49 patrons dead and families shattered, the June 12, 2016 mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub now holds that dubious title.  No one wanted to pass that moniker on and see a horror of this nature again. It was a stark reminder that while the LGBTQ community has achieved a lot in its fight for equality, there are many people who still feel that LGBTQ lives are expendable.

What we learned in the wake of the Up Stairs Lounge arson, is that this tragedy will have a tremendous psychological impact, not only for those directly impacted by the shooting, but throughout the entire LGBTQ community.

Unlike after the 1973 New Orleans gay mass murder, most political leaders expressed compassion, grief and determination for justice after the shooting. Communities across the country and world held vigils, standing in solidarity with Orlando. That didn't happen in 1973. Nearly $8 million dollars was raised for Pulse victims through a GoFundMe account. In the aftermath of the Up Stairs Lounge arson, only $17,900 was raised through the National New Orleans Memorial Fund. Adjusted for inflation, that equals $96,951.90. That's a huge difference! And while the outpouring of compassion is far greater than in 1973, there are still community and religious leaders callously turning their backs to the victims and the LGBT community.

Upstairs Inferno4. What did you learn from making this documentary, both about that fateful night and in your directing skills of how you wanted to tell this story? The more I learned about the tragedy, the more important this project became. I believe it is crucial to acknowledge, preserve and honor our history as LGBT people, no matter where you live. The LGBT dialogue has changed SO much in the past few years. As popular attitudes shift around the world on LGBT issues, we risk losing the stories of the struggles that got us where we are today. It's our responsibility to honor the memories of those who came before us, including those who died at the Up Stairs Lounge. The people who experienced this tragedy paved the way for the freedoms enjoyed by the New Orleans LGBT community of today, as well as the overall LGBT movement. I wanted to create a film that honored their forgotten stories.

Making the film underscored the importance of sharing our stories. We must be visible. It's easier for people to hate and fear things they don't understand. No matter your background, in the end, we are more alike than we are different. I think stories like UPSTAIRS INFERNO reminds of us that.

5. Upstairs Inferno is going to make its NYC's premiere at the Manhattan Film Festival with a screening on April 24 at Cinema Village. What excites you about having this film show in New York City? It's NEW YORK CITY!!! I love this town! About 10 years ago, I was fortunate to live in Manhattan for a summer. (I must admit, I left a little piece of my heart there and I miss it a lot!) I attended a film program while living in New York, and the short film I directed there launched my professional filmmaking career. It's great to come full circle -- screening this full length film in the city where my journey began.

In addition, New York is considered by many to be the epicenter of the modern U.S. Gay Rights Movement.  A film about gay rights and gay history belongs in New York.

6. The narrator of Upstairs Inferno is New York Times best selling author Christopher Rice (son of legendary author Anne Rice). How did you approach him to be the narrator for this documentary? When looking for a narrator, I wanted someone who was passionate about LGBT issues and passionate about New Orleans. Chris immediately came to mind. Chris considers New Orleans his "hometown" and is very passionate about keeping its history alive! I knew that passion would come across in his narration. It's not something you can fake. As a New York Times best selling author, much of his writing is heavily influenced by the years he and his Mom (legendary vampire chronicler, Anne Rice) lived in New Orleans. I contacted him and he was immediately on-board!

"The View Upstairs" Off-Broadway7. With the hit Off-Broadway show The View Upstairs currently running, how do you feel this film compliments the show and vice versa? Theater is such a powerful medium! The View Upstairs, which is inspired by the Up Stairs Lounge fire, has introduced theatergoers to a tragic event in LGBT history that few people knew about. It has undoubtedly left audience members wanting to know more about the deadly arson, the actual people it affected, the devastating aftermath and its rightful place in LGBT history. There's so much more to the story. That's where UPSTAIRS INFERNO comes in. The documentary features the real life stories behind the deadly arson and its aftermath. The interviews with survivors and the family/friends of victims are gut wrenching, yet insightful. Some of the people interviewed in the film haven't publicly discussed the fire until now, especially on camera. I believe UPSTAIRS INFERNO brings humanity to the history-making headlines by shining a light on the very painful effect the tragedy had on survivors, witnesses and loved ones.

I am thrilled that the creative team and cast of The View Upstairs are planning to attend the UPSTAIRS INFERNO screening. I am glad that we get to share the city for one night, uniting to educate people about this nearly forgotten tragedy from our history.

8. I read that you hope Upstairs Inferno helps remind people to seize the day. What event in your life reminded you to seize the day? And since that event, how have you seized the day? Earlier this month, I had a friend suddenly pass away. He was my age. I get really caught up in my work, but his passing was a stark reminder that tomorrow is not promised. With each passing day, I do my best not to be a workaholic, step away from the computer and spend more time with my partner, our puppies and my family and friends. You never know what tomorrow will bring. Life is fickle.

Brian Long and Robert L. Camina9. Upstairs Inferno is your second full length documentary, the first one being Raid of the Rainbow Lounge, which recounts the widely publicized and controversial June 28, 2009 police raid of a Fort Worth, Texas gay bar that resulted in multiple arrests and serious injuries. Before that, you wrote, directed and produced several short films. What made you want to switch from short films to documentaries? At my core, I am a storyteller. I am drawn to stories of the human condition. Whether it be through comedy, drama or documentaries, I prefer telling stories that fight for the underdogs and ultimately inspire us to be better people.

The switch from narrative short films to full length documentaries was not a premeditated decision. June 28, 2009, is a date that changed my life forever. That's when police and law enforcement officials violently raided a Texas gay bar, resulting in multiple arrests and serious injuries. That happened to be the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raid and the parallels were haunting. I had many friends in the bar that night. As the day went on, the facts surrounding the raid were unclear and the future was uncertain. However, my instincts and outrage told me that I needed to capture what was happening on video and potentially create a short film. Little did I know, that decision would define my life for the next 2.5 years. Over the next few months, the story grew. It was quickly apparent that this project wouldn't be a short film, but a feature length film. Since the film's release, RAID OF THE RAINBOW LOUNGE has helped educate and enlighten audiences around the world. It's been a training tool for law enforcement and city officials across the nation. The film also received attention from the Office of the White House, Department of Justice and a division of the U.S. State Department. Documentaries are powerful tools. They possess the power to create change.  That's one reason why I like them and why I decided to take on the story of the Up Stairs Lounge arson.

10. If you could make a documentary about a living and dead celebrity, who would choose for each? Living celebrity: Dustin Lance Black. First of all, we have a few things in common: Not only do we share a passion for LGBT history, but we both grew up in San Antonio. But beyond that, I greatly admire him. He has done so much for our community through his activism and his storytelling. For years, he has been fighting hard to make our stories more visible. I'm sure that hasn't been easy and it'd be a privilege to tell his story.

Dead celebrity: Morris Kight. "Morris Kight" is not a name a lot of people know, but they should. We wouldn't be where we are without him. He was one of the architects of the modern gay rights movement, spearheading a non-violent movement for social reform.  Kight co-founded the Los Angeles Gay Liberation Front in 1969. He went on to co-found the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center (now known as Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center). He was also a co-founder of the first Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade in 1970. He also conceptualized and co-founded many organizations that were created to advance the quality of life for all GLBT persons. More people need to know about Morris and his contributions to our fight for equality.

Robert L. Camina, Photo Credit: Gerry SzymanskiMore on Robert:

Robert L. Camina wrote, directed and produced several short films before premiering his first full length documentary, RAID OF THE RAINBOW LOUNGE (2012) to sold out audiences, rave reviews and a media frenzy. RAID OF THE RAINBOW LOUNGE recounts the widely publicized and controversial June 28, 2009 police raid of a Fort Worth, Texas gay bar that resulted in multiple arrests and serious injuries. The raid occurred on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raid. The film, narrated by TV icon Meredith Baxter, screened during 33 mainstream and LGBT film festivals across the United States, Mexico and Canada. The film won several awards including 5 "Best" Film and 3 "Audience Choice" Awards. The film also received attention from the Office of the White House, Department of Justice and a division of the U.S. State Department. At their invitation, the Library of Congress hosted a screening in October 2014. (www.RaidoftheRainbowLounge.com)

Wednesday
Oct122016

Call Answered: Guy Kent: Autumn Lights

Guy KentI love the daylight. While I love the brisk air of autumn and the smell of wood burning fireplaces, summer is my favorite season because the days are so long allowing you to easily lose track of time. When I heard Autumn Lights was filmed in Iceland during their longest daylight season, I felt an instant connection. After watching a preview of this film, I was engulfed. Like the long days of summer, this movie flew by with it's beauty of scenic Iceland and the complexity of the story. Which brings us to Guy Kent, the lead actor, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing.

Autumn Lights is about an adrift American photographer (played by Guy), who after discovering a deserted crime scene in remote Iceland, crosses paths with an intriguing European couple (Marta Gastini & Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson). As his fascination with them intensifies, he slowly finds himself entangled in their mysterious lives. Guy does a great job in this film. His character, "David" is quite mesmerizing and I couldn't wait to find out more about him as the film went on. The story is very layered in plot, but like the photographs Guy's character "David" takes, the layers are slowly peeled back revealing the truths you are trying to figure out in the film.

Autumn Lights will have a limited release starting October 21, including Cinema Village East here in NYC!

For more on Guy be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on Autumn Lights follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. This October, your film, Autumn Lights, is being released. Angad Aulakh wrote and directed the film, while you produced it. You and Angad met by chance after a death in your family. Through that tragedy came a really great partnership between you two. How, through your pain, were you able to focus enough to connect with Angad? The circumstance of what led to us meeting was definitely unique. At the time, I had just graduated from film school at USC, where I also was studying theater, and I was hoping to meet someone who I could collaborate and create with. But it’s not every day you meet someone who you want to scale a very large mountain with, and then scale another mountain, and then another. And meeting Angad out of that was very much a gift. We’re likeminded and we both thrive when we’re working hard, so it was very natural to fall into working with one another. Less than a year after discussing what would be our first script of four, we were entering pre-production on Autumn Lights.

2. How did you juggle being both actor and producer? What did you learn from the process? From the beginning, we had a very clear idea of the film we wanted to make, and I think I can also speak for Angad when I say that it was crucial for us in juggling two different and demanding jobs, no less for our first feature film together. It was important for us to build trust and create an open line of communication with the entire team during pre-production so that when cameras were rolling, I could focus on my work as an actor and Angad as a director, and feel comfortable with that. I enjoy being busy and I enjoy both of these jobs immensely, so it never once felt like "work" in that sense. And, I learned a great deal about myself in the process and gained a greater understanding of what it means to collaborate with a team. I definitely look forward to continuing to juggle both of these roles.

Guy Kent as "David" In "Autumn Lights"3. Autumn Lights is about an adrift American photographer (played by you), who after discovering a deserted crime scene in remote Iceland, crosses paths with an intriguing European couple (Marta Gastini & Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson). As his fascination with them intensifies, he slowly finds himself entangled in their mysterious lives. What do you relate to most about your character of "David"? I found "David" to be incredibly intriguing on the page. I immediately connected to his curiosity, that sense of rootlessness, his ability to carry on despite circumstances. There’s a lot going on underneath the surface and it’s through his fish out of water experience that the audience gets to experience this very foreign, almost fantasy-like world. And that fish out of water feeling is something I’ve experienced more than a few times myself. It can be an interesting, sometimes surreal thing. You sometimes find yourself taking on the role of observer, which "David" very much so did, and sometimes your actions surprise you, which again for "David," was certainly the case. I also think anyone who’s been in a relationship can relate to the heartbreak he endures and the sadness he carries with him as a result of that.

4. Since you are playing a photographer, what do you, as a person, look for when taking your own personal photos that make you go, "This would make a great moment to capture"? I am a lover of photography. I love photos that have an unexpected candidness to them, ones that encapsulate a moment that can’t quite be replicated. I think my personal tastes in photography actually align somewhere in between "David" and the character of "Johann." In the film, "Johann" shares his love of portraits with "David," portraits that he’s taken of strangers he’s come across. There’s something both fascinating and haunting about those images. They’re mesmerizing in a way.

Guy Kent as "David" in "Autumn Lights"5. Autumn Lights touches on themes of obsession, loss, and loneliness. When have you been obsessed, suffered loss, and been lonely in your life? How did you get through those moments? For me, the most important thing is how you get through those moments in time, who you surround yourself with and who your support is. I feel very fortunate to have friends and family whom I love very much and they have been instrumental at certain times in my life.

6. Most of these themes are seen through the eyes of a stranger in a strange land. When have you felt like a stranger in a strange land? What’s interesting is that I don’t think it’s a feeling that is always a result of physical location. I’ve been in Los Angeles of all places, a city where I grew up in, and have felt like that. I’ve been to several dinners while traveling where I did not know the language people were speaking in. And it is during moments like those that you tend to see things very clearly because you’re slightly removed. It can be surreal in a way. There are several moments in the film where "David" experiences that.

7. What were the top three funniest moments to happen during filming? Perhaps the funniest moments were when delirium set in after long nights and long days shooting. Then add in constant sunlight, we didn’t know up from down. We really enjoyed the company of everyone we were working with. Marta [Gastini] and I were always laughing with one another when we were not filming, and I think we needed it given "David" and "Marie’s" intense scenes together.

Guy Kent as "David" in "Autumn Lights"8. Autumn Lights marks the first independent American-Icelandic co-production in history to have been shot and fully completed in Iceland. What does it feel like to be the first independent film to have this co-production? Why did you choose to have the film take place in Iceland? The decision to shoot and then also complete the film in Iceland just felt like we were doing what was best for the production. But we didn’t have any awareness of its significance when we were doing it. It just felt like the right decision.

As for the initial choice of Iceland, it happened fairly organically and began with my and Angad’s love of Scandinavian film and Scandinavian chamber films. It also came out of practicality, given the region’s geography and isolation and what that meant for the story. And, the time of year we chose to film gave us nearly 24 hours of sunlight. That was instrumental in helping to create a surreal sense of time. You can lose sense of where you are in the day.

Originally though, we were focusing on production in Norway because of Angad’s family ties, however, production there wasn’t feasible and so we started to broaden our look of the region. We had been in contact with our Icelandic producers prior to that and the timing was right, so it made the decision to go in that direction fairly simple. I remember seeing a film shot in Iceland just before then, and afterward, I was in complete awe over the landscape. I remember my friend saying to me, "you’re going to shoot in Iceland, aren’t you?" It just felt like something that had to happen. But Iceland is a real jewel in so many ways and I think you can see that in the film. And it’s a country that is incredibly film-friendly.

Guy Kent as "David" in "Autumn Lights"9. Since the film is called Autumn Lights, what is your favorite part about the fall season? I can proudly say that Autumn is my favorite time of year. It’s a time that brings people together. And I enjoy when the air is nice and brisk. I also think the sunlight in the Fall is the most beautiful. Angad has spoken about the title of the film, and how it’s not so much about the time of year that the film takes place in, but instead, it’s about the feeling that the season and its beauty evokes, that melancholy sense of time passing. I love that sentiment.

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? Probably to keep reminding myself that it’s my world just as much as anyone else’s. Someone very wise has told me that on one or two occasions.

Guy KentMore on Guy:

Guy Kent is both an actor and producer. Guy’s entrance into film was twofold, receiving his B.A. in Film Production from the USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles and training in theater at USC’s School of Dramatic Arts and the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. Following Guy’s introduction to NYU Tisch filmmaker Angad Aulakh, the two began a collaborative partnership forming Last Carnival. During the course of seven months, they developed four feature projects and produced two short films, one of which starring Guy alongside American Crime’s Caitlin Gerard. AUTUMN LIGHTS marked their fourth script developed and after just a year of meeting, Guy and Angad were entering pre-production on the project. The film signifies their first feature film collaboration, Guy as both actor and producer.

Wednesday
Jun292016

Call Answered: Matthew Morrison: New York Pops Summer Series, Glee, Broadway

Matthew Morrison, Photo Credit: Christian RiosThe year was 2002 and a new Broadway musical was opening that summer called Hairspray, starring Harvey Fierstein, Matthew Morrison and newcomer Marissa Jaret Winokur. The moment Matthew took the stage and started singing, he definitely had a new fan. Matthew's vocals are like no other and ever since Hairspray, I have had the pleasure of seeing him in almost all his Broadway endeavors, getting to hear that golden voice raise the roof time and time again! It has been a pleasure watching Matthew's career rise and then watching the world over get to know him and his voice because of his starring turn in Fox's Glee.

Ever since I started "Call Me Adam," I have been eager to interview Tony, Emmy, and Golden Globe nominee Matthew Morrison. It is a real honor to have been granted this opportunity, not only because we got to talk about Broadway, Glee, and his upcoming concert with The New York Pops, but because we got to the heart of what makes Matthew tick. Matthew's enthusiasm, excitement, and genuineness really shine through.

Matthew will be reuniting with The New York Pops and conductor/musical director Steven Reineke on Thursday, July 7 as he takes the stage with them at their summer home of Forest Hills Stadium (1 Tennis Place, Forrest Hills, NY). Matthew and The Pops' will be joined by Tony nominee Megan Hilty. Showtime is 7:30pm. Click here for tickets!

For more on Matthew be sure to visit http://matthewmorrison.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on The New York Pops be sure to visit http://www.newyorkpops.org and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

Matthew Morrison1. This July you are once again going to be performing with The New York Pops at their summer home of the Forest Hills Stadium. What do you love about performing with The New York Pops? The Pops have such an amazing history, and do such a great job of including all members of its community. Its involvement with public schools and children’s hospitals in particular really resonates with me and my values.  I’ve had such great experiences working with The New York Pops in the past, and I look forward to sharing the stage once again with this amazing group of professionals, led by my good friend, conductor Steven Reineke.

Steven Reineke and The New York Pops2. When performing with The New York Pops, what do you learn from The Pops' Musical Director/Conductor Steven Reineke that you don't learn from working with other musical directors? Steven and I are good friends who share a similar taste in music. He understands my brand and takes the time to work with my Music Director, Brad Ellis, and myself to really bring the best show to the audience. He’s a team player who works extremely well with the artists that share the stage with The New York Pops. It’s always a fun and exhilarating show with Conductor Reineke.

3. Since Forest Hills Stadium is an outdoor venue, do you vocally prepare yourself differently than if you were getting ready to sing at an indoor venue? If you do you prepare differently, what do you do that's different? My regimen is pretty consistent no matter the setting. Days leading up to the performance, I rest my voice as much as possible. The day of the performance, I stay away from any types of dairy. To help coat the throat, I drink plenty of warm tea with honey and lemon. The only difference between preparing for outdoor vs. indoor shows is when I’m faced with temperatures that aren’t ideal for vocal performances. However, I don’t see summer in New York posing any issues!

Matthew Morrison4. We first met when you were starring on Broadway in Hairspray and since then, I've had the pleasure of watching your career take off. What has this journey been like for you? Is the reality of the trip the same as what you envisioned or hoped for? Thank you for the kind words. Looking back at my career, it’s been an amazing journey. Through it all, I have never chased success. Instead, I have always pursued happiness, and what that meant to me personally. To me that’s the key. I never thought I’d be in the position I’m in today, working with amazing creative professionals and having the liberty to decide which projects I want to attach myself to. But when you pursue your passion and stick with it even through challenging times, it’s amazing what opportunities will present themselves.

Matthew Morrison and Call Me Adam after "The Light in the Piazza"5. I've also had the pleasure of seeing you on Broadway in The Light in the Piazza and South Pacific, both productions played at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theatre. When you walked back into the Beaumont for the first time during South Pacific what memories came up for you from starring in The Light in the Piazza and what new memories did you make during South Pacific? In The Light In The Piazza, I was faced with the extreme challenge of learning a foreign language in a very short window of time. Unlike television or film, you only get one shot at executing lines in theater. So memories of going through that challenge stood out. Each night on stage, the amount of emotion and energy that translated from the stage was unparalleled to any show I’ve been in. I will always cherish my tenure with that production, and once I walked back on to that stage for South Pacific, those memories came flooding back. In South Pacific, there was a different emotional connection I had with that show. "Lieutenant Cable’s" internal struggle through each performance often left me leaving the theater a bit melancholy. Playing a character who was being sent on a mission from which the likelihood of return is slim was a difficult task. I had to learn to pace myself in order to keep going with the run.

Matthew Morrison and Jane Lynch on the set of Fox's "Glee"6. While many people know you from your Broadway shows, lots of people got to know your talent when you starred on Fox's Glee for six years. What songs or artists did you never get to sing on Glee that you wished you had? What were the top three funniest things that happened to you during the taping of the series? We covered a very diverse repertoire of songs throughout the series, and I recall very fond memories of performing many of them with my cast mates. "Singin’ in the Rain" with Gwyneth Paltrow was amazing, aside from being wet all day! When we performed "Proud Mary," we were all in wheelchairs, and that was one of the biggest workouts on set that I can remember. We were up and down ramps, giving it our all in camaraderie for "Artie." "Don’t Stop Believin" was the Glee anthem, although now I can’t listen to that song just because at every event we attended for the show, they would be playing it. "You’re All The World To Me" was my favorite because of the creative direction. It’s the performance where I danced on the ceiling and walls. It was choreography at its finest, and was such an exhilarating day for me. Jane Lynch was my comedic crutch – she was always there to brighten spirits and bring a smile to everyone’s face.

Matthew Morrison7. With all the interviews you do, what is one question, you are so tired of people asking and what is one question you have not been asked that you wish you would be (and please provide your answer to that question)? The one question I get a lot is "Would you ever do a Glee reunion show?" The show was extremely special to me, and had its place in pop culture. Sometimes you just need to appreciate an ending and move on without entertaining a possible comeback, especially this early on. One question I haven’t been asked is "What do I value most in life?" My answer – happiness.

8. Some actors who start in theatre and then find success in television/film, stay working in television/film. What keeps you coming back to the stage? How do you feel your theatrical training prepared you for television work? Performing on stage is my air. I will always prefer being on stage because of that live interaction with an audience. There’s no substitute for the energy I receive from an audience. Live performances, to me, are a symbiotic relationship between the talent and the audience, where we both feed off of each other’s energy. My experience in theater prepared me for the work in television and film by instilling the sense of immediacy in my performances. In live theater, you get one take to get it right. In television and film, when you’re performing to a lens, there can be a number of takes on a single scene. I learned discipline with my techniques, and I think that helped a lot when transitioning to TV/Film.

9. On your album Matthew Morrison, you recorded Sting's "Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot" and on Where It All Began you recorded Stephen Sondheim's "Send In The Clowns." When in your life, have you "Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot" and when was there a time you wanted someone to "Send In The Clowns" to help cheer you up? "Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot" – When I made the decision to pursue the arts professionally. "Send In The Clowns" – Now that’s a bit too personal J

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent every day? To continue pursuing my passion and always striving to be a better person, husband and friend.

Matthew MorrisonMore on Matthew:

Matthew Morrison is a versatile actor who is recognized for his work on-stage and on-screen. He has been nominated for Tony, Emmy and Golden Globe Awards. Matthew most recently starred as "J.M. Barrie" in the Harvey Weinstein musical Finding Neverland through January 2016. The Broadway production is an adaptation of the 2004 film written by David Magee. The story follows the relationship between "Barrie" and the "Davies" family, who became the author’s inspiration for the creation of "Peter Pan." Matthew received two Drama Desk nominations for his role, and won the category of Favorite Actor in a Musical in the Broadway.com Audience Awards. In 2015, Morrison wrapped the final season of Fox’s musical comedy series Glee, where he starred as the director of the glee club, "Mr. Will Schuester." The show was created by Ryan Murphy and received the Golden Globe award "Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical" in 2010 and 2011. Morrison was the first artist signed to Adam Levine’s record label, 222 Records, where he released his Broadway standards album, Where it All Began, in June 2013. In 2012, Morrison starred in the Lionsgate film, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which was based on the book of the same name, directed by Kirk Jones. The film also starred Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez and Dennis Quaid among others. Matthew played a famous dance show star who is faced with the unexpected demands of fatherhood. The film was released on May 18, 2012.

In March 2012, Matthew hosted and narrated the PBS special entitled Oscar Hammerstein II - Out of My Dreams, which focused on the Broadway producer’s life and career. Also in March 2012, Matthew was featured in a performance of Dustin Lance Black’s play, 8, a staged reenactment of the federal trial that overturned California’s Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage. The performance raised money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

Matthew studied musical theater, vocal performance and dance at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He made his debut on Broadway in Footloose but his big break came when he was cast as heartthrob "Link Larkin" in the hit Hairspray. Matthew was later nominated for a Tony Award for his role in The Light in the Piazza, and received a Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Musical for 10 Million Miles. He also starred in the Tony-winning revival of South Pacific at Lincoln Center Theater in New York. Matthew currently resides in New York.

Steven ReinekeMore on Steven Reineke:

Steven Reineke is the Music Director of The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, Principal Pops Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Principal Pops Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Principal Pops Conductor Designate for the Houston Symphony, beginning in the 2017-2018 season. Mr. Reineke is a frequent guest conductor with The Philadelphia Orchestra and has been on the podium with the Boston Pops, The Cleveland Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia. His extensive North American conducting appearances include San Francisco, Houston, Seattle, Edmonton and Pittsburgh. As the creator of more than one hundred orchestral arrangements for the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Mr. Reineke’s work has been performed worldwide, and can be heard on numerous Cincinnati Pops Orchestra recordings on the Telarc label. His symphonic works Celebration FanfareLegend of Sleepy Hollow and Casey at the Bat are performed frequently in North America. His numerous wind ensemble compositions are published by the C.L. Barnhouse Company and are performed by concert bands around the world. A native of Ohio, Mr. Reineke is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio, where he earned bachelor of music degrees with honors in both trumpet performance and music composition. He currently resides in New York City with his husband Eric Gabbard.

Steven Reineke and The New York PopsMore on The New York Pops:

The New York Pops is the largest independent pops orchestra in the United States, and the only professional symphonic orchestra in New York City specializing in popular music. Under the leadership of dynamic Music Director and Conductor Steven Reineke, The New York Pops continues to re-imagine orchestral pops music. The orchestra performs an annual subscription series and birthday gala at Carnegie Hall. The New York Pops is dedicated to lifelong learning, and collaborates with public schools, community organizations, children’s hospitals and senior centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City. PopsEd allows thousands of New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds to participate in fully customizable music programs that blend traditional education with pure fun. Visit www.newyorkpops.org for more information. Follow The New York Pops onFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.