New This Week – 8/30/19

A timid 18-year-old living with his financially-struggling immigrant parents, chances upon a secret cruising spot when he takes a job at an all-male spa. There he begins to realize hidden desires that threaten his life as a dutiful son and student. ‘Spa Night’ is available to stream on Dekkoo!

‘But She’s My Best Friend’ is a gay comedy series about two gay best friends, Christian and Joey, and their lives in West Hollywood as they try to find a happy medium between being an adult and being a mess. Season 2 of this hilarious series is available now on Dekkoo!

It is the year 2040, Earth has been abandoned by the wealthy, who have migrated to space colonies. Bored, a rich young man decides to return home. Gradually, he perceives strange signs in the streets and discovers the existence of a secret cult. Stream ‘The Cult’ now on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: Violence, jealousy, desire and what it takes to hide what you are.

Writer-director Andrew Ahn’s Spa Night is an intensely personal must-see film

Writer-director Andrew Ahn’s remarkably assured feature-length debut is a portrait of forbidden sexual awakening set in the nocturnal world of spas and karaoke bars in Los Angeles’ Koreatown.

David Cho (Joe Seo, who won the Special Jury Award at Sundance for his breakthrough performance), a timid 18-year-old living with his financially-struggling immigrant parents, chances upon a secret spot for cruising when he takes a part-time job at an allmale spa, and begins to realize hidden inner desires that threaten his life as a dutiful son and student.

Haerry Kim (Soyoung) and Joe Seo (David) in Andrew Ahn's SPA NIGHT

Effervescent and atmospheric, this one-of-a-kind coming-of-age story makes the steamy spa a liminal place between dream and reality, and desire and disillusionment.

Spa Night is an intensely personal film,” said Ahn. “I knew very early in the screenwriting process that I had to draw from my own life experiences in order to find the honesty I wanted to show on screen. As the son of Korean-American immigrants, I have felt the conflict between my parents’ expectations and my own personal desires. In Spa Night, I wanted to explore what it means to be a part of a Korean-American family. As Spa Night progressed into production, the film became even more personal for me. We shot on location in Koreatown, Los Angeles — at restaurants I have eaten at, spas I have visited, and streets I have walked down. As I directed scenes, I saw my family in this fictional family I had created.”

Joe Seo (David) and Youn Ho Cho (Jin) in Andrew Ahn's SPA NIGHT

“My main character David speaks in a mix of Korean and English to his parents, the same mix I use when I speak to my parents. With Spa Night, I want to open up American independent cinema to include stories about immigrant communities told in languages other than English. It is important that our cinema culture reflect the diversity of the American experience. By telling this story, I am attempting to validate the immigrant experience and acknowledge my parents’ sacrifice to leave their home country and start a new life in America. Spa Night is my way of fulfilling my parents’ hopes and dreams.”

Watch the trailer for Spa Night below. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

 

Saying Goodbye to “I’m Fine”: an interview with series creator Brandon Kirby

With the release of I’m Fine’s third and final season, everyone at Dekkoo is feeling a little bittersweet. I’m Fine was Dekkoo’s first foray into the world of original series, and we couldn’t be prouder! But all good things must come to an end, and what a way to go out! We sat down with the creator of the series, Brandon Kirby, to see if he’s really doing fine after the release of the series’ last installment.

Still from I'm Fine: Season 3

Will you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in Livonia, Michigan, and went to undergrad at Michigan State University. Shortly after graduation, I moved to L.A. in 2012 for an internship at The Hollywood Reporter. Classic L.A. move, I caught the screenwriting bug, and my career went from there. My first project was a web series I co-created with my writing partner at the time and still good friend, Jessie Katz; it was called The Exorcists, and somewhere in the bowels of YouTube, it can be found and watched. I also unfortunately star in it. The lessons learned from that project allowed me to go on and create I’m Fine.

What was your main source of inspiration for the series?

The main source of inspiration was a breakup, so a lot of the first season is based on a bad hookup I had post-breakup. Nate’s neuroses and bad decision making unfortunately mirrors my own. But once Perry Powell began to imbue Nate with his own nuances, the character evolved past any real-life touch points I had tethered the story to. Thankfully, all my actors were able to bring even more to their characters than I had anticipated, so I’m Fine as a series was quickly able to evolve beyond being semi-autobiographical despite many characters, situations, and even dialogue being pulled directly from my real life. These close ties to reality quickly dissipate by season two as the show’s storylines morphed and evolved into something greater.

Can you tell us a little about the inspiration for the title and how you decided on it?

In college, I would say “I’m fine” in a really weird, high-pitched, obviously not-fine tone, and it became a running joke with my friends. As I was writing the first episode, the title sort of came naturally from that.

Still from I'm Fine: Season 3

What was it like bringing other writers onto the show for the last season?

They brought a lot of new perspectives and experiences to the show. For example, in the third episode of season three, we wanted to continue exploring Jeff’s issues of identity, so Clay Pruitt tackled that episode working on a story concept from Lee Doud who plays Jeff. And for the sixth episode—written by Michael Varrati—it’s the story of two older gay men courting younger men at a bar. Varrati wanted to bring that specific perspective to the episode to put a discussion of the gay generational divide into our final season.

What was the casting process like for such a strong ensemble show?

It all started through friends and friends of friends. Perry Powell (Nate) came recommended through our Director of Photography—Andrew Ceperley—and then Lee Doud (Jeff) came through our producer—Albert Payano. From there, Brittney King (Nicole) and Richard Stokes (Andy) were also recommended through Perry, and Ulysses Morazan (Brian) came recommended through another season-one producer—Abram Cerda. As we got into season two, we brought on our amazing casting director, Leslie Wasserman, who stayed with us through the process of casting seasons two and three. She’s been an absolute godsend, and we couldn’t have successfully done our last two seasons without her!

How does it feel to have seen these characters grow from season one to season three?

It’s been a really wild experience seeing how much they’ve grown. I think each character goes on a relatable journey of self discovery, and the direction these characters take is largely owed to the actors bringing them to life. Thanks to them, the characters have gone places I never expected.

Throughout the series, there was an emphasis not only on romantic relationships but on platonic ones and ones where the lines blurred a little as well. Why did you decide to showcase this broad spectrum of relationships?

Since the show’s starting-off point was a breakup, my goal was to not entirely focus on romantic relationships. As the series began, I was much more interested in exploring gay male relationships—namely friendships—that sometimes enter the gray area of more than friends. I think that’s something so specific to gay men where if you’re friends, there’s always the possibility that one person might see the other as something more. And that’s where Nate and Jeff find their friendship headed in season two, and then they have to walk it back, deal with the falling out of one of them having feelings, and then land back in the realm of friendship.

Still from I'm Fine: Season 3

What would 15-year-old Brandon Kirby say about seeing something like I’m Fine on screen?

He would be shocked because 15-year-old me didn’t even have moving to L.A. on his radar. To see that his future self wrote and directed a show, he would be stunned. He probably would’ve gained a lot from it.

What do you think queer viewers will gain from this series?

I want them to see themselves and know that queer stories don’t all have to be tragic. Queer characters can exist in storytelling and media by just being themselves, living their lives, and fucking things up just like any other characters they might see in media.

What’s the main message you’d like your readers to walk away with after seeing I’m Fine?

We’re always growing, and we’re always on a journey. As queer people, we’re always trying to find our tribe, and the journey of self-identity is forever ongoing. We’re constantly redefining ourselves, changing our paths and friendships, and that’s okay. It’s all part of growing up, and sometimes, that means growing apart. I think that’s especially true for transplants moving to new cities and even more true for queer people. It’s all about finding your people, and sometimes, you have to go through a few rounds of figuring out what you want before you can land on what truly makes you happy.

How does it feel to have completed the third and final season of the show?

It feels bittersweet. I knew season three was the time to end the series, but it’ll definitely be weird not returning to these characters. The cast and crew feels the same way, but we’ll always have the friendships and the I’m Fine family we made along the way. Personally, it feels like I’m closing the chapter on that “Nate chapter” of my life, and so it’s a timely and fitting end.

Can you tell us something that was challenging about filming the series?

Budget is always something you’re fighting against when it comes to small projects such as this. Cutting corners, calling in favors, and finding every opportunity to save money is the name of the game.

Still from I'm Fine: Season 3

Can you share one of your favorite moments or memories on set?

On set during the filming of season three, we were shooting a nighttime pool scene, and our director—Andrew Ceperley—was setting up for the shot but wasn’t satisfied with the angle he was getting. The two characters were sitting with their feet dangling in the pool, so straight-on shots were limited since there was a body of water in front of them. But that didn’t stop Andrew from fully getting in the water to film the entire scene. He didn’t even take the time to take his jeans off, let alone his socks or shoes. It was a moment of pure dedication, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

How does it feel to have I’m Fine featured on Dekkoo?

I’m so thankful it’s on a platform like Dekkoo, dedicated to telling exclusively queer stories. I hope being on here allows the show to reach more people!

Do you have any new projects you’re currently working on?

I have a short film also starring Lee Doud (Jeff) called Is This a Date? that’s currently in post-prod and will premiere on Dekkoo either later this year or early next. I also have a queer horror short, The More the Scarier, that will land on Dekkoo this Halloween. The production company I have with Michael Varrati called June Gloom Productions also has a short, The Office is Mine, that will be hitting the festival circuit this fall. We also have many more queer horror-genre stories in the works!

Where can we find you online?

You can find me on Twitter and Instagram. You can also find I’m Fine on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

You can watch the third and final season of I’m Fine right now, available for streaming on Dekkoo!

New This Week – 8/23/19

Dekkoo Films presents the shocking and sexually explicit documentary ‘Mr. Leather’. Embrace your deepest and darkest desires. Take a front-row seat as five individual contestants vie for full leather dominance! The winner will be crowned the first official Mr. Leather of Brazil.

Sun is a young man who attends a sex party, organised via a dating app, with four other men. While the others seem to be enjoying themselves enormously, Sun finds himself unaroused, despite the others’ best efforts turn him on. ‘Sodom’s Cat’ is available to stream now!

‘Child of the ’70’s’ is the story of gay Italian-American Carlo Perdente who ends up working as a personal assistant to his 1970’s TV idol, the neurotic and over-the-top KiKi Lawrence. Season 5 is available now to binge on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: A profoundly moving drama about a young man torn between the expectations of his family and his own burgeoning desires. Coming next week:

Cinema Spotlight: In the Grayscale

When architect Bruno (hot Chilean TV star Francisco Celhay) finds himself passionately drawn to Santiago tour guide, Fernando (Emilio Edwards) he faces challenging decisions about his identity – and his relationship with his wife and young son.

Francisco Celhay and Emilio Edwards in In the Grayscale

Hired to design a civic landmark for the Chilean capitol city, Bruno struggles with the commission. His uncertainty about how to proceed professionally is paralleled by his personal grappling.

Francisco Celhay and Emilio Edwards in In the Grayscale

Offering no easy answers, this tenderly told tale of sexual discovery has earned comparisons to Andrew Haigh’s Weekend for its beautifully realized portrayal of two men in love. Variety called In the Grayscale “A measured, tenderly played study of imprecise sexual identity.” The San Francisco Chronicle called it a “wonderfully complex character study.” The film also won the Jury Award for Best First Feature at the Frameline San Francisco LGBT Film Festival and the Ibero-American Debut Award at the Miami International Film Festival.

Francisco Celhay and Emilio Edwards in In the Grayscale

Watch the trailer for In the Grayscale below. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

Now Available: The Blue Hour

“The Blue Hour” can mean the time between day and night, a realm between dream and reality, or a point between good and evil. Based on a true story, The Blue Hour from director Anucha Boonyawatana is all about the relationship between a boy, who is pressured by his family, and a mysterious young man who will lead him into horrifying situations.

Attapun Poonsawad and Oabnithi Wiwattanawarang in The Blue Hour

A sexy supernatural love story about a bullied loner, Tam (Attapun Poonsawad), who finds solace in the arms of Phum (Oabnithi Wiwattanawarang), a boy he meets at a haunted swimming pool. Phum reveals that his family’s land has been stolen and the new found lovers imagine a perfect life together on the disputed land. Haunted by a ghostly presence, Tam struggles to stay connected to reality.

An official selection of the Berlin International Film Festival, The Blue Hour is a dark atmospheric tale of love and distress.

Attapun Poonsawad and Oabnithi Wiwattanawarang in The Blue Hour

Born in Nakhon Phanom, a North-Eastern Province of Thailand, in 1981, Anucha Boonyawatana is a Thai independent film director and also founder of G-Motif Production, one of the largest video production company in Thailand. His thesis film “Down the River”, combination of Buddhist philosophy and Thai art and a love story of a gay couple, won Young Thai Artist Award and has been shown at several film festivals. He collaborated with TUC, Thai-American Public Health Agency (under the US government) and UNESCO to direct the online movie “Love Audition1, 2” aim to promote health and relationships among Thai gay teenagers. In 2012, his short film “Erotic Fragments No.1, 2, 3” was screened in competition at Berlinale Shorts of the 62th Berlin International Film Festival. The Blue Hour is his first feature film.

Attapun Poonsawad and Oabnithi Wiwattanawarang in The Blue Hour

Check out the trailer for The Blue Hour below. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

An interview with Jason T. Gaffney: the Creator of “Analysis Paralysis”

Have you ever been paralyzed with fear? That’s exactly what the protagonist of Analysis Paralysis—Tyler O’Conner—is fighting. That is, if he can decide on a course of action. This romantic comedy follows Tyler as he navigates the treacherous road of romance as he starts to fall for the guy next door. Will his analysis paralysis prove to be too much for this budding relationship, or will true love come out on top? We sat down with the director, actor, and co-writer of Analysis Paralysis, Jason T. Gaffney, to discuss how this project was brought to life.

Tell us about yourself:

First and foremost, I’m a filmmaker who loves comedy, but I’m also an actor, director, producer, and a writer of both screenplays and romance novels. In my spare time, I co-host a weekly comedy podcast called The Bright Side with Kevin and Jason with my Analysis Paralysis co-star, Kevin Held. I was born in New York, grew up outside of Boston, went back to New York City for school, and lived there for a while. After filming The Perfect Wedding, I moved out to Los Angeles where I met my wonderful husband, Matt, and created My Pet Hippo Productions.

As a filmmaker, my goal is to make movies set in the inclusive and welcoming LGBTQ-friendly world that I grew up in. Although there’s still an important place for angsty coming-out dramas, I just don’t see my own reflection in those stories. So, I deliver stories where the LGBTQ characters have moved beyond any conflict surrounding their sexual orientation and get to deal with the same zany hijinks that straight, cis characters have been dealing with for decades. And I want to make people laugh along the way!

What was your main source of inspiration for this film?

My biggest source of inspiration for Analysis Paralysis was my burning desire to make people laugh. There was also a close family friend named Bill who was an expert at figuring out all possible outcomes before he made a business move or played his hand at poker. During game nights when the question “Whose turn is it?” came up, the answer was always a very loud and exasperated, “It’s Bill’s turn!”

When I was brainstorming screenplay ideas for an indie movie with my writing and producing partner, Ed Gaffney (who also happens to be my father), the idea of a main character with a severe case of Bill-itis came up, and we both really liked it. Thus, Tyler O’Connor was born. After that initial brainstorming session, I called up my psychologist sister-in-law, and as we talked more in depth about anxiety, I knew we had our story!

What was it like working on this script with your father as a co-writer?

When Analysis Paralysis did the LGBTQ film-fest circuit this past year, our most frequently asked question was, “You wrote this movie with your father?!” Yes, I did! I love working with my dad. We have very similar senses of humor.

We first started working together back when we wrote The Perfect Wedding—our first LGBTQ rom-com. After we produced that, we grew frustrated by the amount of time and money it takes to tell a story through filmmaking. So, we decided to write romance-novel versions of the movies we wished we had the budgets to make. Whether we’re writing a book or a screenplay, our process is the same. Basically, I write a first draft and send it his way. Then, he takes a pass at it, makes revisions, and punches up some of the scenes and jokes. I then go over it again and punch-up some of his jokes. Our back-and-forth process really helps us figure out which scenes need the most work as well as what’s missing from the script.

Jason T. Gaffney and Kevin Held in Analysis Paralysis

After viewing this film, Sylvia Plath’s famous quote about the fig tree from her novel, The Bell Jar, comes to mind. How does this relate to you personally as someone who has many paths vs. Tyler who can’t even seem to pick one?

When I was growing up, I was under the impression that you had to take one path in life. I was going to be a Broadway actor, but despite going to school for musical theater, I found myself getting hired as a film actor instead. Shortly after I jumped into film, I started getting involved in the production side of things. I quickly discovered that the best way to make sure a movie that I’m acting in gets made is to produce, write, and direct it myself. I’ve also learned to edit and do each film’s assembly cut, so I’m essentially my own assistant editor, too!

In the Plath quote, I’m sitting in the crotch of that tree sampling every fig I can reach—even the ones I have to go way out on a limb to grab. Because why not, Sylvia Plath? Who made the rule that you only get one fig? I’m a firm believer that you can sample all the possibilities in life and find the ones that best suit you. Life is too short not to go after the things you want.

In Analysis Paralysis, Tyler is a lot like the woman in Plath’s fig tree. Only he doesn’t want to starve to death, so he courageously takes action to combat his paralysis.

Why do you think it’s important to show someone like him on the screen?

Tyler has managed his high levels of anxiety for most of his life, including a handful of relationships although none of them were really serious. After his first book is published, it hits all kinds of bestseller lists. With huge success like that, it’s easy for a writer to get blocked. Because of the pressures of his career, he’s really struggling. As he’s working to overcome that, he realizes that maybe he’s never had something serious romantically because he’s never been able to be honest about his anxiety.

I loved both writing and playing Tyler. I think it’s important that people who struggle with anxiety get to see their reflection in him as he wins his happily ever after. I think Shane says it best: “You’re the bravest person I know. Every day, you face a world that is scarier than anything that I can imagine.” He’s not just talking to Tyler there. He’s talking to everyone watching who see themselves in Tyler. It’s a message of support and hope, and I really love all the feedback I’ve gotten on the character. A lot of people really relate to him.

When writing the script, were you actively writing a rom-com?

Oh, absolutely! I’m a huge fan of romantic comedies. It’s my go-to choice to watch, read, and work on. I’ve always loved stories where love wins and I laugh out loud the whole time.

As real-world stress has risen over the years, I find myself needing to laugh more to keep from dissolving in a puddle of panic. We all need laughter to bring balance to the current awfulness. Making others laugh is high on my to-do list.

Jason T. Gaffney and Kevin Held in Analysis Paralysis

How did you approach acting through the many scenarios that constantly run through Tyler’s mind?

I was excited to get to play out all the different wacky scenarios that Tyler imagined. In fact, one of the biggest challenges was keeping a straight face while Kevin—the actor who plays Shane—let loose. There was a lot of laughter on set throughout filming!

What was the difference in your approach to this film in your roles as director, writer, and actor?

Each role has differences and similarities. As the writer, I want to create the best story I can, but it’s hard to write without wearing my producer hat, too. The director spends a lot of time on pre-production and making sure that the set feels like the real world. I do most of my own art as well as spending time getting permission to use logos or brands. For example, all of the underwear in Analysis Paralysis was generously provided by Andrew Christian. At the end of the day, every hat I wear has the same goal: make a movie that is as engaging and entertaining as possible.

What would you like audiences to take away after watching this film?

Everyone has anxiety to some degree, and we all deserve love and happiness.

What advice would you give to people struggling to break free from their own forms of analysis paralysis?

Even if the worst case scenario happens, your life isn’t over. Life can be scary, but once I figured out that I was going to keep on going no matter what, it became easier to make those scary leaps into the unknown. And more often than not, those leaps have led me to achieving many of my goals and dreams. So, take that leap and go for it!

Jason T. Gaffney in Analysis Paralysis

How does it feel to have Analysis Paralysis featured on Dekkoo?

It’s great! We’re so happy to be here! We hope the Dekkoo subscribers will fall in love with Analysis Paralysis and want to see more from us! If you loved the movie, tell your friends!

Do you have any new creative projects on the horizon?

Right now, I’m in post production for a movie called Out of Body that also co-stars Kevin Held. It’s a paranormal rom-com that takes place during Halloween. It’s not horror though. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer in terms of paranormal activity, but it’s heavier on the romance end of the rom-com spectrum than Analysis Paralysis.

I co-wrote it with Suzanne Brockmann who happens to be my mother and a New York Times bestselling author. She’s also written a romance novelization of Out of Body that was a finalist for a RITA award. The book is available in ebook, print, and audio. Actually, Kevin and I recently recorded the audiobook edition published by Blackstone Audio!

As far as the film of Out of Body goes, we’re approaching the test-audience phase of editing. In fact, our ongoing IndieGoGo crowd-funding campaign for the project includes a “watch an early cut of the film” perk that supporters can select.

Aside from Out of Body, I’m currently in pre-production for several more films as well as a comedy series.

Where can we find you online?

I’m everywhere! Come say hi! You can learn more about me and my many projects at www.JasonTGaffney.com or sign up for My Pet Hippo Productions’s newsletters here to stay up to date. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, IMDb, and Amazon. Check out our Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to get some cool perks while supporting future projects (including Out of Body)!

Jason T. Gaffney and Kevin Held in Analysis Paralysis

You can watch Analysis Paralysis right now, available for streaming on Dekkoo!