Cinema Spotlight: John Apple Jack

When handsome and philandering John (Chris McNally) discovers his sister’s fiancé is Jack (Kent S. Leung), his secret childhood crush, passions ignite and his life spirals out of control.

Chris McNally and Kent S. Leung in John Apple Jack

After losing his job and his playboy reputation, a newer, penniless, and more soulful John quickly becomes difficult for Jack to kick to the curb. Circling Vancouver’s trendy East-meets-West restaurant industry, they both venture to blend money, sex, family and love into one sumptuous recipe for life.

Still of the supporting cast from John Apple Jack

A positively adorable, uplifting, sexy and very funny new romantic comedy, John Apple Jack has earned acclaim at film fests around the world. Dumpling Magazine said that it’s “everything good about gay cinema with half the saturated hype.”

Chris McNally and Kent S. Leung in John Apple Jack

Lead actors Chris McNally and Kent S. Leung do a great job selling their romantic and sexual chemistry. It’s easy to see why these guys would secretly fall for one another.

Chris McNally and Kent S. Leung in John Apple Jack

John Apple Jack is available to watch now on Dekkoo.

The new coming-of-age drama Seeds packs an emotional punch

Young middle-schooler Andy (Emilio Puente) is about to see his world entirely changed. After witnessing the death of his mother during a senseless act of violence, he is sent from Mexico City to Cuernavaca, where he will stay with his paternal grandmother (Carmen Maura).

Diego Alvarez Garcia in Seeds

Tasked with weeding and picking fruit around the property, Andy meets a young, charismatic gardener named Charley (Diego Alvarez Garcia), who seems to be his only source of friendship and camaraderie. As Andy begins getting closer to Charley and searching for information about his absent father (Moises Arizmendi), he finds himself on an increasingly bumpy path through adolescence.

Emilio Puente in Seeds

Seeds, the feature-length debut from award-winning short film and documentary director Alejandro Andrade Pease is gorgeously shot and features arresting performances. This sun-dappled coming-of-age story packs a serious emotional punch.

Emilio Puente and Diego Alvarez Garcia in Seeds

You can watch the trailer for Seeds (originally titled Cuernavaca) below. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

 

Writer-director Yen Tan talks Pit Stop

Pit Stop takes a subtle and eloquent approach in telling the parallel stories of two gay men in a small Texas town. There’s Gabe (Bill Heck): a contractor who’s getting over an ill-fated affair with a married man and finds solace in the relationship he still harbors with his ex-wife, Shannon (Amy Seimetz), and their daughter, Cindy (Bailey Bass); and there’s Ernesto (Marcus DeAnda): a Hispanic lumber yard worker in the midst of splitting up with his live-in boyfriend, Luis (Alfredo Maduro), as he receives news from the hospital that his former love, Martin (Rob Conner), is in a coma. At the end, when Gabe and Ernesto meet for a one-nighter – having endured all the struggles and heartbreaks and wondering if they’ll ever find love again – they face the possibility that they might just be meant for each other.

As a gay Asian-American filmmaker, I always desire to see a broader and more complex range of LGBT characters in cinema. I’m also drawn to stories that delve into the heart of underrepresented communities. Pit Stop is a character-driven drama that revolves around the lives of two gay characters in a red state small town. In today’s climate where there’s so much discourse over gay rights and marriage equality, Pit Stop is my endeavor in diverting that debate into something less political but more emotionally grounded: the meaning of love, the meaning of family, and the meaning of connection. The playwright Adam Bock once said, “In being specific in my work, that’s how universality happens. Everybody is lonely, everybody is afraid. As artists, as we get more specific, the universe appears.” This is precisely what I seek to achieve with Pit Stop.” – Yen Tan

Photo of writer/director Yen Tan

Q&A with Yen Tan

 

How did the story come to you?

The idea for Pit Stop came about in 2002 when I was commuting between Dallas and Houston (where my editor was based) for the post-production of my first film, Happy Birthday. I made “pit stops” for gas and coffee in the small towns in between the cities, and I started to think about what it’d be like to live there as a gay man. My curiosity led to some research online, and I corresponded with several gays and lesbians who live in small towns. They were people who chose to be in places that may not be accepting of their lifestyles. Yet, they managed to blend in seamlessly with the rest of their community, holding jobs as conventional as everyone else’s. They were mechanics, teachers, construction workers, business owners, or law enforcement officers.

Nevertheless, these small towners are not as “out” as the average gay urbanite. Being gay is part of their identity, but it’s not necessarily something they’d talk about openly. A few of their close confidants may know, but for the most part, DADT (“Don’t Ask, Don’t-Tell”) is the prevailing attitude. This all brought back another distant memory I had in college. I was studying at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa and used to frequent a gay bar called The Garden. One cold winter night, I met Larry, a farmer who lived near Ames. Since his place was too far away and I had a roommate in my dorm, we ended up spending the night in his truck at a secluded residential area. He was closeted and had an ex-wife who doesn’t know he’s gay, and they had a kid who was about to attend elementary school.

This provided a foundation for me to work off from, and I started to write the script with Larry’s story as a starting point. Little did I know I was gonna be working on the script for close to ten years, and eventually co-wrote it with David Lowery.

 

When did you begin production? How long did it take?

We shot the film in Texas – Austin, Bastrop, Dripping Springs, Lockhart – in the summer of 2012. Production took about a month.

 

Did you face any difficulties in making the film?

It took so long to get the script off the ground, and it was nearly impossible to find financing for the film. I must have shelved the project more than a dozen times. Being accepted by the Outfest Screenwriting Lab in 2009 was certainly a confidence boost, and once we received a production grant from Austin Film Society in 2011, that very quickly led to more grants (i.e. Vilcek Foundation) and funding opportunities.

Casting was occasionally frustrating. There were times where I wondered if I was making the film twenty years ago, where actors would balk at the gay content and gave ridiculous reasons to back out of auditions. There was a nice counterbalance: actors who didn’t care and who responded to the story and characters were incredibly passionate. Production went fairly smoothly, self-inflicted mental torture aside.

 

What do you want the audience to take from the film?

I wasn’t interested in making anything sensational or had a “message.” My intent with Pit Stop is to always focus on the characters’ humanity and their way of life. My hope is that the integrity of this approach enables the audience to fully empathize with their emotional journeys and their plights in finding, losing, and rediscovering love.

Original Poster Art for Pit Stop

Two men. A small town. A love that isn’t quite out of reach.

In Pit Stop, a perfectly-crafted American drama, openly gay Ernesto (Marcus DeAnda) and closeted Gabe (Bill Heck) grapple with the sad tribulations of being gay in a small, working-class Texas town. This truly uplifting love story, given great critical praise when it first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, delicately examines male intimacy, the heartache of unsuccessful relationships and the transformative power of love.

Marcus DeAnda and Bill Heck in Pit Stop

“I need to get on with my life,” Ernesto pronounces as he kicks out live-in ex-boyfriend Luis. Macho yet sensitive, Ernesto still carries a hopeless torch for his other ex-lover, Martin. Meanwhile, down-to-earth building contractor Gabe seeks solace with his ex-wife and six year-old daughter while pining over the loss of his relationship with Chuck. Trying to find connection amidst formidable loneliness – this is the story of Ernesto and Gabe.

Bill Heck and Amy Seimetz in Pit Stop

Reminiscent of such classic rural gay love stories as Big Eden and Brokeback Mountain – and showcasing equally accomplished performances from its handsome leads – Pit Stop achieves an understated tone of authenticity rarely seen on screen as it shows us a tender, beautiful slice of gay American life.

Marcus DeAnda in Pit Stop

Watch the trailer for Pit Stop below. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

Watch the trailer for the profoundly moving new short film Louder Than Words

Louder Than Words, written and directed by Julio Dowansingh, is an independent short film that follows a young musician named Ansel (Luke Farley), and his unexpected encounter with Niall (Marty Lauter), an endearing, deaf dancer.

Marty Lauter in Louder Than Words

When forced to share a studio space, artists Ansel and Niall find themselves awkwardly beside each other, performing song and dance respectively. They have an underlying connection, and that is a closeted interest and admiration of each other. While Niall can read lips, an obvious language barrier still stands between him and Ansel.

Luke Farley and Marty Lauter in Louder Than Words

In order to communicate, Ansel and Niall must step out of their comfort zones, because even though they share similar passions and quickly inspire each other, the inevitable risk of miscommunication – both in language and emotion – remains, rendering their hidden affection almost impossible to express. 

Luke Farley in Louder Than Words

The film explores the sheer struggle that queer people often face in a culture that is yet to fully foster accepting spaces for courtship and love. At its core, the story portrays how difficult it can be to communicate romantic interest as a queer person, and in this case, an added impediment of being hearing impaired.

Luke Farley and Marty Lauter in Louder Than Words

Louder Than Words is now available to stream on Dekkoo. Check out the trailer below.

Cinema Spotlight: Bromance

Welcome back to the fall of 1996.

Still from Bromance - Available now on Dekkoo

When four friends go on a camping trip in a remote part of Argentina, sexual tensions quickly bubble to the surface. Once in virtual seclusion by the beach, Juli, the only girl of the group, quickly recognizes that the boys seem to have a closer relationship than what she would consider “normal” (it’s only ’96, after all).

Still from Bromance - Available now on Dekkoo

The line between friendship and love fade further for two of the boys in particular as their desire becomes too much to bear. When what started as a simple getaway quickly becomes tinged with sex, romance and conflict, everyone is forced to confront who they really are for the very first time.

Still from Bromance - Available now on Dekkoo

Starring Javier De Pietro, the scrumptious star of Absent and Sexual Tension: Volatile (both of which are also available on Dekkoo), Bromance uses a clever found-footage aesthetic to deliver a thoughtful and supremely sexy meditation on young, burgeoning gay love.

Still from Bromance - Available now on Dekkoo

Bromance is available now on Dekkoo. Watch the trailer below.

Censored Dreams takes an insightful look at filmmaking in the Philippines

Get an in-depth look into the independent film scene in the Philippines with this sexy and thought-provoking feature from director Joselito Altarejos.

Censored Dreams takes us through the process of making a gay-themed feature film by following the lives of an aspiring actor named Samuel (played by Arjay Carreon) and a struggling filmmaker named Wilfredo (Richard Quan).

Samuel has hung all of his hopes and dreams on becoming an actor. He’s hoping Wilfredo, who has also staked his livelihood on finishing their film, can help make his dreams a reality. Their hopes, unfortunately, are dashed when the Board of Censors assigns their new project an X-rating, which means it will be banned from being shown publicly. Their path toward fame and fortune is suddenly littered with even more obstacles.

Censored Dreams is available now on Dekkoo.