Title – ‘Paper Boys‘
Director – Curtis Casella
Starring – Kyle Cabral, Nathan Brown, Kai Liu, Sarah Elizabeth
Release Date – 2018
Hey Dekkoo’ers! It’s almost June which means the shirts are about to come off! Although technically here on Dekkoo we almost always have guys with their shirts off and you don’t have to leave your couch to stare at them. Today on the dispatch we’re very excited to feature the newest member of the Dekkoo Original Series family: ‘Paper Boys‘!!! Wooooo!! It’s always super exciting for us to show off new talent and rising star Curtis Casella who directed all 6 episodes of this new series that takes a close look at a young creative gay man and his immersion into a new life in San Francisco.
Cole is your typical creative type. Shy, cute, and looking for love. For circumstances we’re unaware of (maybe something to explore in season 2?) Cole decides to use the excuse of an engagement party in San Francisco of his best friend to actually move to San Francisco. He’s a cartoonist and even before he gets to say hi to his hunky best friend who he’s staying with he’s already pounding the pavement to look for a job. Daren, the hunky best friend seems to have it all. A nice apartment in expensive San Francisco, a tech job, and an adorable wife-to-be named Rebecca. Everything seems to be going great until Daren confides to Cole that the engagement is actually something he doesn’t really want to happen. Everything so far has seemed pretty typical right? Well here’s the twist: Daren finds an old sketchbook of Cole’s and gives it to him and once Cole starts drawing in it he discovers that everything he draws happens in real life!!
I blew through all 6 episodes in two sittings and thought it was a really touching tale of a shy gay boy just trying to figure out this new stage in his life while at the same time trying to support his best friend that he obviously harbors some feelings for. The plot twist was a super cute addition to the ‘drama’ that naturally occurs in their every day lives. The diversity of the cast was refreshing and the setting of San Francisco was used even better than it was in ‘Looking’ I thought.
The director sat down with OUT Magazine for an interview and had some really great remarks about race, gay relationships, and queer content:
Tell us about the reasoning and importance behind showcasing a gay-straight male friendship? You often don’t see this story in media.
CC: The gay-straight friendship is somewhat autobiographical for both Kyle and me. Both of us have really close friends who are straight, and we felt like it was something we didn’t see often enough in gay media. It’s really interesting to see the vast differences in life experience between gay men and straight men. My best friend was having a hard time meeting friends and asked me how I made them when I moved back to San Francisco, and I said, well, I have Grindr, and gay bars, and circuit parties, and I just see people again and again and friendships come naturally. And he says, “yeah, I don’t think that’s going to work the same for me.”
In some way, it was also aspirational. Like, if we could show a friendship that was platonic between a straight and gay man, it might normalize it to an extent that it’s perhaps not normalized now. I think there is still an undercurrent of maybe tension in gay and straight relationships – like this feeling on the part of straight men that gay men might either threaten their masculinity, be secretly attracted to them, or both. And we wanted to show a friendship between two men that didn’t have any of that. Where they were like brothers.
The cast is highly diverse. How important was it for you to represent a range of people from different backgrounds to tell this story?
CC: This was one of our most important goals. Kyle is Filipino, and we both have pretty diverse groups of friends, so we felt like it was essential to include a diverse cast in Paper Boys. First, we both were cognizant of the fact that people of color don’t see themselves represented enough in media, so that was one facet. But this also allows us to address issues in the gay community that just wouldn’t ring honest with a cast of white characters – like the racism that exists in dating and hookups, internalized homophobia that some still feel, and themes that white audiences – probably myself included – wouldn’t even think about because of the privilege we’re born with.
That’s also why having a diverse cast is only half of it. I know that there are some things that I can’t see, or that seem innocuous to me but may not be to people with different lived experiences from me. So having writers, editors, cinematographers of color is essential too. We had one line in the 6th episode – which we’d written before we’d cast our series – where Charlie says that Daren and Rebecca would have had beautiful children. It was still there after a couple of rewrites, and when we went into rehearsals, the actress who played Rebecca pointed out that she often had people say that to her and her husband (who was white), and it had a clearly racial tinge to it. That honestly never occurred to me, and we decided to drop the line from the scene because it didn’t advance the story, and wasn’t true to a character who, having grown up with Rebecca, would have seen some of the racism that Rebecca experienced and would not have wanted to perpetuate that.
Dekkoo is changing the way queer men experience content, what has it been like working with the streaming service?
It’s been amazing working with Dekkoo – they’ve been incredibly accommodating and want to let us tell our story the way we want to tell it. Plus, I think having a service that’s targeted towards queer men is important. Netflix is great, but much of the gay content on there is of the B-movie variety, with a few notable exceptions. So it’s great to have a platform like Dekkoo, especially one that works with independent filmmakers like us.
We’d love to know what you think of a new Dekkoo Original Series that we’re super proud of so be sure to leave comments on the videos and let us know!
Watch it with: Your best friends 🙂
Mix it with: Red Wine.
Title – ‘Protect Me From What I Want‘
Director – Dominic Leclerc
Starring – Naveed Choudhry, Elliott Tittensor
Release Date – 2009
Title – ‘Prora‘
Director – Stephane Riethauser
Starring – Swen Gippa, Tom Gramenz
Release Date – 2012
Title – ‘Nightswimming‘
Director – Dominic LeClerc
Starring – Linzey Cocker, Tim Dantay, Harry Eden
Release Date – 2010
Hey there! The dispatch was away for a couple weeks while I was out scouting for the best in queer cinema at the Cannes Film Festival to bring to Dekkoo, but I’m back! We’ve been adding some great short films to the Dekkoo universe lately and I wanted to feature three of them in this week’s dispatch:
‘Protect Me From What I Want‘ is a really sexy and romantic film from the UK (one of two in this week’s dispatch). I’d seen it before a few years ago when it first came out, but watching it again was a much more intimate experience than I remembered it being. The story revolves around Daz and Saleem. One night they meet while cruising each other on a busy street. Daz is clearly the more experienced of the two and tries in vain to get Saleem to kiss him. After Daz continues to initiate sex Saleem runs away and we get to briefly see his very traditional Indian family giving us the cue that not only is Saleem nervous about having gay sex, but he’s also tormented anti-gay pressures from his family. Eventually Saleem seeks out Daz once more and they go to Daz’s house where Saleem finally submits to Daz’s charms. But what happens once the experience is over? Can Daz hold onto someone so conflicted with their inner desires?
‘Prora‘ takes us on a journey through the ups and downs of young friendship when sexual desire enters the picture. Prora’s title is the name of the setting of the film – a beach resort built by Nazi Germany between 1936 and 1939. It was envisioned as the affordable holiday destination for the everyday German laborer. After the war began in 1939 construction stopped and was never completed. The location choice by director Stephane Riethauser is really fantastic. The beautiful outside area contrasted by the bare, distressed interior of the buildings is a great metaphor for the two boy’s friendship throughout the story. The story is really very simple. Two boys – one French, Matthieu and one German, Jan are having a carefree Summer holiday near Prora. One day while drinking they decide to explore the inside. There Jan eventually shows his same-sex attraction to Matthieu which causes… friction to say the least.
‘Nightswimming‘ is a bit of an erotic puzzle. Also hailing from the UK this film explores the nature of repressed desires and inter-generational experimentation. Two young kids break into a swimming pool. On patrol is an older gentlemen who hears the commotion and goes to investigate. Upon finding the handsome boy with his apparent girlfriend he takes pity on them and grants their request to stay overnight. Over the course of the night he observes the two of them playing around and becoming intimate. The boy is obviously showing off a bit especially since at one point he calls out for the guard in jest so the guard can witness him stripping off the girl. Eventually the two separate and the boy starts talking to the guard. The conversation starts with the incredibly funny line “I’ve run out of fags. Got any?”. There’s also an incredibly sexy shower scene with full frontal nudity so if that’s your thing get on that!
Watch it with: Your gay short film loving friends!
Mix it with: White wine.
Title – ‘Finding Neighbors‘
Director – Ron Judkins
Starring – Michael O’Keefe, Catherine Dent, Blake Bashoff, Julie Mond
Release Date – 2013
Welcome to dispatch number sixty-nine! I welcome you to please insert your favorite sixty-nine related joke/snortle here… Today we’re taking a look at a lovely feel-good mumblecore film shot in Los Angeles about the struggles of an aging marriage and the trials of struggling creatively. It’s true this film does come from a straight perspective, but a lot of the film’s focus comes from a gay next-door neighbor who has his own gay marriage problems.
Meet Sam, he was once a successful graphic novelist, but lately he’s hit a massive creative crisis which is taking a toll on every aspect of his personal life. His last book was a failure and now he’s in trouble with his publisher because he’s late on his new one. One day while procrastinating at a cafe he meets Jeff, a fellow “househusband” who’s acclimating to the “wonders” of married life (aka boredom). Technically it isn’t their first meeting, but their first pleasant meeting as the previous one was a middle-of-the-night misunderstanding wherein Jeff thought Sam was spying on him. It turns out that Jeff is a big fan of Sam’s early works and they strike up an easy friendship. Sam’s wife is a therapist so as you can imagine she’s constantly trying to analyze his current mid-life crisis. She suspects he’s sleeping with this really cute girl next door and has no clue that he’s really just spending all his time with Jeff.
I thought this movie was pretty darn cute. It definitely has a rough “indie” feel, but you can really tell that a lot of love went into this film. The pressure to constantly be a creative force in your professional life is something a lot of people can relate to and the character of Sam does a great job of relaying that to the audience. I do wish they’d dressed Jeff in clothes that actual gay men would wear and not those horrid button down dress shirts, but hey, straight people can’t do fashion as well as the gays! There are a lot of fun actors in these roles: Sam is played by Michael O’Keefe who was nominated for an Oscar for his supporting work in ‘The Great Santini”. Mary, his wife is played by Catherine Dent who you probably will know from ‘The Shield’. And in the role of Jeff’s husband Paul you’ll definitely recognize the hunky Sean Patrick Thomas from ‘Save the Last Dance’ and ‘Cruel Intentions’.
I’ll leave you today with the director’s statement on the film which will give you a bit more of an idea behind his inspiration for the film:
How does someone remain “relevant” in a youth-obsessed culture? How do people nourish intimate relationships long after the honeymoon is over? Is there a difference in the nature of love in gay vs. straight relationships? How do we maintain a sense of humor and grace while negotiating many of life’s setbacks?
The character of Sam in the story is any one of us who wonders if the creative edge that he once took for granted will still serve him. Mary is any one of us who as the dutiful spouse is forced to question whether the trust in her marriage is well founded. Jeff is any young man whose fixation on his past immobilizes him. Sherrie is any woman reveling in the heady powers of her sexuality, but yearning for more substantial relationships. These characters are people that I know.
I don’t see many filmmakers addressing these questions. But I know that the audience is there. I am the audience.
I’m smack dab in mid-life. Some of my peers are retiring, some “passing by the wayside,” and more than a few are feeling that modern culture has somehow passed them by. And in a large sense it has. But I consider this a great opportunity, because I am a member of one of the greatest underserved film audiences of all time: the aging baby boomers.
The studios produce very little content for this generation. Independent producers provide even less. And all the while, millions of us go to the theaters, rent DVDs and download to our flat screens, week in and week out.
But when I began writing Finding Neighbors, I wasn’t thinking about audiences or targeting markets. That’s really not my forte. I merely wanted to write and create something to which I could relate, something that concerned itself with issues that are close to me.
Watch it with: Your hus-bear!
Mix it with: Some chardonnay – the perfect suburban drink.
Title – ‘Another Gay Sequel‘
Director – Todd Stephens
Starring – Jonah Blechman, Jake Mosser, Jimmy Clabots, Aaron Michael Davies
Release Date – 2008
In the spirit of the Avengers sequel (times 5!?!) coming out this weekend I wanted to touch on a sequel the gay community was graced with back in 2008. ‘Another Gay Sequel’ is the follow-up to the 2006 smash success ‘Another Gay Movie‘ which I profiled way back in Dekkoo Dispatch #20. I’m a big Todd Stephens fan so it was really incredible to hear that he was heading up the sequel. Too many times sequels are usually handed to someone else with the original director either uninterested in the project or just excited to move onto a fresh story. But Todd was eager to thrust us back into the lives of Andy, Nico, Griff, and Jarrod.
We last left our awkward protagonists in a state of pure orgasmic bliss. They’d just fulfilled a group promise to all lose their virginity over the course of a summer after high school graduation. Griff and Jarrod became boyfriends, Nico found an older daddy, and Andy ended up getting double penetrated by Griff and Jarrod’s ex-dates. Not bad for first times! The sequel starts with a ‘gag’ dream where Griff, Jarrod, and Andy all ‘die’ horrible lubed up deaths. Nico wakes with a start in a his bed and realizes it was all a dream… or was it? Because in fact we quickly realize that the actors that played the three hunky guys in the original look a little… different. Welcome to an industry where agents tell their actors that, “if you play two gay movies in a row people might think you’re actually gay”. Nico writes off the change of actors as a good thing, “Actually, they’re a lot cuter than I remember” and everyone immediately gets excited about SPRING BREAK IN FORT LAUDERDALE!!!!
That’s the focus of our gay sequel folks. A rowdy, dirty, and wild trip to sunny Ft. Lauderdale, Florida during spring break where the boys are shirtless all the time and the drinks flow until daybreak. Just like the original our sequel packs in the antics AND the cameos. We’ve got RuPaul, Perez Hilton, Lady Bunny, Brent Corrigan, Amanda Lepore, Colton Ford, Jim Verraros, & Michael Lucas just to name a fair few! The boys first stop after their ‘Snakes on a Plane’ moment on TransAmerica airlines is their adorable retro hotel filled with fellow gays on spring break. There they meet RuPaul or as she’s known in the film, Tyrell Tyrelle, who lets it be known that they’ve stumbled upon a grand event simply known as ‘Gays Gone Wild!’. The objective of the game is to rack up as many ‘fuckstamps’ as possible during the week by, ya know, fucking. Unfortunately there are complications. For one Griff & Jarrod as a couple have to figure out if they can participate, also there’s the Jaspers. The three Jaspers (Jasper and his two cronies: Jasper Chan and Jasper Pledge) are the reigning champions of the competition and won’t give up their title so easily.
Andy, who now brags about his sluttiness with gusto, gets to work almost immediately on collecting his fuckstamps. Nico on the other hand runs into an ‘unlucky tiki’ and thus is out of the game so to speak. Griff & Jarrod start to experiment with being in an open relationship which causes frictions within the group, but also creates an opening for a fantastic 3way cameo with Colton Ford. Sooo funny! Other fun problems include Perez Hilton running around the place trying to convince people to NOT have sex (he was hit over the head with a buttplug) and Andy’ dad (played by the incomparable Scott Thompson) trying to keep up with the boys in the competition. The whole movie is a hoot and while it might not be quite as fantastic as the first which was hilarious and compassionate in equal measures it still does an admirable job at making you laugh and squirm in equal measures. And the hot naked guys are an added plus for sure!
Watch it with: All of your gay friends!
Mix it with: Mimosas, Martinis, whatever it takes!
Title – ‘Bugcrush‘
Director – Carter Smith
Starring – Josh Caras, Donald Cumming, Eleonore Hendricks, David Tennent
Release Date – 2006
Well it’s a very dark and yet exciting day here in Dekkoo-world with the launch of Carter Smith’s award-winning short-ish film from 2006 ‘Bugcrush‘! This is absolutely, positively, my favorite short film ever – it’s disturbing, sexy, and gorgeously made. The photography, sound design, and choice of locations all come together to reach a level of perfection for my particular aesthetic interests. The short premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to win the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Film! Based on his success at Sundance Carter Smith went on to direct the Summer blockbuster horror film ‘The Ruins’ and later in 2014 the intimate ghost love-triangle film ‘Jamie Marks is Dead’.
‘Bugcrush‘ is set in a small town in the forest-heavy state of Maine. We meet Ben – a mousey nerd-ish loner type who happens to be the first person to talk to the dark, mysterious, and sexy new kid in school, Grant who immediately upon arrival gets an immediate detention for smoking. What does Ben do then? He gets detention on purpose so he can stare at Grant for a couple of hours. Ben’s friends try to talk him down from his obsession with Grant. They warn him that he’s just a straight guy that’ll beat him up if he knew Ben was into him. But none of this deters Ben who proceeds to work up the courage one school day to propose a hangout with Grant that leads to a very bumpy night to say the least…
The film is an adaptation of a short story by Scott Treleaven, an artist who founded the queer pagan punk ‘zine ‘This is the Salivation Army’ back in the 90’s. It was collected in the queer horror anthology ‘Queer Fear 2’ which is where Carter Smith first read it. “The moment I read the short story the very first time, it was like being hit by a bus,” Carter Smith said, waiting in a Dallas airport for a changeover flight to Salt Lake City. “I was like, ‘This is the film that I can make better than anybody else. This is the film I have to make.’ It just sort of clobbered me over the head.” Before making ‘Bugcrush‘ Carter Smith was a professional fashion photographer and commercial director. He was certainly able to bring over his keen instinct for stylization and photography to create a dark and foreboding landscape of teenage angst and sexuality.
The film was shot on 35mm and the color timing is some of the best I’ve ever seen. Greens have a corpse-like quality to them (except when it comes to Ben’s eyes which seem to be leaping out of the screen at you) and the roads at night are a gorgeous yellow-grey color. Another part of the production that leaps out at you is the sound design. The entire film is filled with eerie moans and distorted childish voices that promote the escalating tension in everyday normal situations like school hallways. The idea to un-synchronize the sound during the driving scene at night is totally brilliant! And so was the idea to have lots of whispering voices giving you additional info about characters. Turn up your volume!!
This movie has everything! Pretty guys, teenage crushes, weird drugs, sexy smoking, metal music, awkward hidden sexuality, creepy straight guys, and cockroaches! Watch ‘Bugcrush‘ with your ‘crush’ tonight!
Watch it with: Someone you have a dark crush on…
Mix it with: Vodka.
Title – ‘Turn It Around‘
Director – Niels Bourgonje
Starring – Valentijn Avé, Tonko Bossen, Timo Dries, Faye Gunther
Release Date – 2017
Title – ‘Breath‘
Director – Margien Rogaar
Starring – Yannick de Waal, Moo Miero, Roeland Fernhout
Release Date – 2007
Title – ‘It Gets Better?‘
Director – Stephen Riscica
Starring – Gys de Villiers, Luka Fric, Samuel Ashkenazy, Adam Davenport
Release Date – 2016
Three short films – Three snapshots of queer life at three different points in a gay man’s life. I’ve been focusing too much on features lately so this week I decided to take a glance backwards at some of the short films that have been added to Dekkoo’s catalog. I found three recent additions that speak of love at different stages in life and they’re all exquisitely crafted! I’d recommend starting from young to old. In this case from ‘Breath‘ to ‘Turn It Around‘ to ‘It Gets Better?‘.
‘Breath’ is an heartwarming poetic coming-of-age short film from The Netherlands. Infused with a warmth you can only get from shooting on real film, ‘Breath‘ focuses its camera on 12-year old Erik. He’s fascinated by the world around him and constantly observes his surroundings with the remnants of child-like awe. His friend Sophie invites him to the beach where he meets her handsome and playful father. Clearly Sophie has a bit of a crush on Erik, but Erik has his eyes on her father. Margien Rogaar definitely has an eye for colors, occasionally flashing us with bright swatches of color reminiscent of scenes from ‘Beginners’ by Mike Mills. The whole film felt like falling into a dream for me – a dream that put me in the shoes of my childhood self and reminded me of what having a crush at that age was like.
Ten years later in the same country Niels Bourgonje created ‘Turn It Around‘. A film set squarely in the post-‘It Gets Better’ world with the coming out process being awkward rather than difficult. In the short 15-year old Bram is attending a house party with his girl crazy friends. We can tell immediately that he’s your typical closeted gay teenager – lazily reacting to girls his friends point out as ‘hotties’. But then Bram spots Florian at the party and immediately falls for him. In the span of just ten minutes we’re witness to the beginning of a really adorable love story. If you can only watch one of these shorts make it this one! Soooo cute and heartfelt.
Lastly we enter old age with ‘It Gets Better?‘. Getting older is something very few people (especially gay people!) want to happen to them. This feeling is programmed into us from a very young age where being attractive and youthful is prized above almost everything else. Slowly, but surely more narratives are changing that view point and ushering the values of old age corresponding to wisdom and insight into the cultural consciousness. In this short we meet an older man who’s watching an ‘It Gets Better’ video on the internet. In the video we see a teenager repeating the same monologue we’ve heard a million times before, but it’s affecting this man differently. Instead of being calmed by it he’s agitated by the teenager’s words. After drinking a heck of a lot of wine we finally hear what’s on his mind. Gys de Villiers (who is actually a pretty famous South African actor) is unbelievably compelling as the anonymous older gay man who tries to impart some of his wisdom (and melancholy) to a jaded modern culture.
Watch it with: A friend or two!
Mix it with: A glass of white wine.