Sexually Frank is the first time I’ve had something to say in a film, and the movie was never supposed to exist.
On July 21, 2007, I screened A-Bo the Humonkey to a crowd of several hundred locals and personal supporters. The laughs were sparse, but the love was there. It’s a warm and fuzzy feeling, screening your work to a supportive crowd. This was my second time. After the credits rolled (punctuated by the infamous A-Bo rap), I jumped up on stage, thanked everyone, and answered some questions. A few kind folks wanted to know what my next career move was, which, I was happy to say, I had all figured out. Making two no-budget indie features was a crucial learning experience. The small, Troma-based success I experienced with I Need to Lose Ten Pounds was more than we ever expected. But I was 21, and the backyard filmmaking was over. It was time to get all rich and famous.
“Yeah, I’m not making another feature after this,” I proclaimed biblically, wearing a white A-Bo t-shirt, black blazer, and jeans that extended below my sneakers. “I’m going to LA, and I’m just going to focus on writing screenplays.”
In film school, they don’t expect your thesis film to hit big or find commercial success. They expect you to produce a calling card – something you can shop to studios or investors that says, “See? I can make a movie without money. So let me make a film with money and I’ll really show you what I can do.” Ten Pounds would act as my cute, first-time acquisition success (despite the film never actually being released. See Chapter 16), and A-Bo would be my calling card. I was entering my last semester at film school, and I had enrolled in the Los Angeles internship program. The plan was to intern at a high profile studio, get hired by said studio, and move permanently to LA, shopping my talents with A-Bo in one arm and screenplays in another.
But there was one, ugly, screaming elephant in the room. I had been dating Nina Szulewski since I was 14. Along with Jon Hunt, Aaron St. Laurent, and Jake and Keith Sadeck, she was intertwined with my filmmaking life. She was the Chewie to my Han, growling awkwardly when I got lost in the snows of Hoth. She was the person I shamelessly rambled to, night after night, about how I could “never have a nine to five job.” She was the hand I squeezed through our film screenings. She cried when our main actor quit halfway through shooting I Need to Lose Ten Pounds. She sent edible arrangements to every location that allowed us to shoot A-Bo the Humonkey. She dug through her father’s cluttered basement for every prop we’ve ever used. She wept over pancakes with Keith Sadeck the morning I left for college. And, when even my closest friends thought this whole film thing was obnoxious and self-serving (and, let’s face it, they were right), she never did.
She was actually entertaining the idea of moving to LA with me, but in the meanwhile, the four-month semester away from one another was going to be tough.
We hung out in my childhood bedroom and watched movies the night before I left. I was waiting for a long, heart-wrenching goodbye moment, but Nina put on her grown-up face, told me it was gonna be quick, and ordered me to go be amazing (we’ll see how well that turned out.) I watched her walk all the way to her beat-up Corolla, and I waited as it coughed to life. And then it drove away.
Because, you know. I needed to go be rich and famous.
She left me an envelope with $300. I bought a GPS with that. Three years prior, I had left her to go to college, and now was the second time that I had to say good-bye to this incredible person.
It would be the last.
LA is basically an eight-lane highway of fast food and palm trees. It’s good for two things – eating badly and catching great movie screenings. I did both, and a lot.
I interned at the 20th Century Fox television casting office during the writer’s strike in 2007, where I met Kelsey Grammer, Fred Willard, Patricia Heaton, Michael Rapaport, and more. My job was to run errands and screen unsolicited acting reels, and let the assistants to the heads of casting know if anyone seemed interesting (and I alerted them to too many prospects, and gained a reputation for not being selective.) Due to the strike, they asked me to come up with reality show ideas, and I thought it would be lovely to see a competition for who can gain the most weight – the “Biggest Winner,” if you will. I also wrote a treatment for “Stink Pot,” a competetion in which contestants try to smell their worst and still operate in society. When they get kicked off the show, they’re pushed into a giant washing machine. I don’t think anyone even read the treatment, because surely they would’ve picked up the show.
One of the perks of being a graduate of a well known film school is you’re supposed to be connected into some sort of alumni hive. Meaning, current students and alumni are supposed to connect one another in the industry, like a huge, self-important network. And it’s not all lies – alumni do perpetuate a system of aid, and on one such occasion, a graduate I knew invited me to a cookout.
Sure, burgers were available, but priority was placed on talking shop. His living conditions were very…college. I was never quite suited for dorm living – I never drank, smoked, or puked during college, so the reek of a dorm room was something I wanted to leave behind. And yet, my fellow alumni were living like frat boys. Why? Because none of them had adult jobs. Mom and Dad were still floating cash.
Then my former classmate got down and dirty. In college, he aspired to be a writer and comedian, but unfortunately, he was born unfunny. Accepting this, he moved to LA and decided to become an agent. He started talking to me about YouTube videos, and how we should make 20-second hilarious videos and just collect hits like some kind of Pokémon trainer. I kept stuffing my face through the misery of listening to this.
Don’t get me wrong, I got a few YouTube hits one time with a George Lucas parody, and I ride it like a pony to this day. But it was through this experience of him talking about fame for fame’s sake that made me realize something very important. I’m an artist. Yeah, me. The guy who made I Need to Lose Ten Pounds and A-Bo the Humonkey. Feel how you will about those films, each was an insanely emotional, long, drawn out labor of love. The youthful adrenaline that powered those films came from the DIY filmmakers – Robert Rodriguez, Peter Jackson, Kevin Smith, Lloyd Kaufman. Guys who didn’t ask for permission to make films. They went dumpster diving and scrapped together their art. All that teen fascination with Troma films and DVD special features and film research was about mustering the confidence to ask, “Why can’t I do this?” It wasn’t to get hits. It wasn’t to make calling cards. It wasn’t to meet Patricia Heaton. It was to be an artist. See if I could do it. Maybe even express something unique.
And yet, as I reached for what had to be my sixth burger, my former classmate dribbled on about getting sponsors for some website we were going to make. And I realized why I was in this toilet bowl of a city. I was asking permission to make films. I was asking for permission to do something I already do – but this time, without the people who love me enough to make it possible.
Instead, I was trying to sell a script, get an agent, make contacts, get some hits, or make a film with a real budget. To find validation. To transcend my status as an aspirer.
Nonsense. On the east coast, I made what I wanted, with who I wanted, how I wanted, and both films were seen by thousands. I even had a small handful of aspiring high school students and would-be artists who reached out to me to say that Ten Pounds and A-Bo inspired them to try this film thing out themselves. That was validation. Not… whatever this comedian-turned-agent was selling me.
As the months ticked on, I would run into his type over and over and over. Former classmates who I once knew as artists had production assistant jobs, which would run out month to month. The exhaustion of job chasing killed their creativity. Some left LA. Some stayed out of ambivalence.
I excused myself from that enthralling conversation and stepped outside of the apartment complex. I dialed Nina. I told her that when I come home, I’m staying home. She wanted me to think about it. I told her I had.
I had said something earlier that year, on a stage or something:
“Yeah, I’m not making another feature after this. I’m going to LA, and I’m just going to focus on writing screenplays.”
Nina and I thought we were done talking and hung up. I tried to return to the party but couldn’t. The comedian/agent was pitching someone else. I called her back.
“So what do you think? Should we make another one?”
She laughed. “Yeah, I’d love to.”
If I could have gone home that day, I would have. But I had an internship to finish. So I made the best of it, stayed away from networky cookouts, and acted in a cool horror film (I played a character in Psycho Sleepover named “Ugly Jen.”)
One drab, strikey day at Fox Casting, work was slow – everyone had their photocopies and coffee, so my work was done. I was instant messaging throughout the day and found myself in a long conversation with Jon Hunt. Jon had enabled me to make films when I was 14. Our friendship was predicated on our artistic endeavors, and we had been through a lot together. He taught me how to drive, how to use a camera, he set up my first editing machine, and we were friends when his mom died – there was a bond there.
Jon had struggled with obesity all his life, and throughout his twenties, he found himself at a dangerous weight. He also struggled with depression, and it was difficult to urge him to do something about his health, which was only going to become a more serious issue. I told him I was coming back, which he seemed happy about, and that I wanted to make another movie, of which he was supportive. He was a little down, because he hadn’t participated on A-Bo like he would’ve wanted to. He felt a little left out of that production – but the reality was, we shot in the city, which required a lot of walking, and at nearly 500 pounds, that just wasn’t plausible for Jon.
I began to thank him, in ways I should have long, long before that IM conversation. I thanked him for everything he had meant to me, every bit of kindness and charity he had shown me, and I told him how important he was in my life. And I told him to lose weight. I told him to do whatever it takes – get your stomach stapled, go on an all-liquid diet, do whatever you have to, but do it and do it before you’re 30. He thanked me for the concern, and gave me the usual Jon business.
“It’s not something I feel I need to do, or will do, but thank you.”
Polite shrugging off. Jon was the best at it. Whatever. I tried.
Eventually, after several flight delays and a small snow storm, I returned to Providence, RI in December of 2007. Nina was bundled up in a big pink coat, anxiously awaiting me at the TF Green pickup terminal.
Not to ruin the ending, but a year later, we got married on a Monday night by a justice of the peace. We had no vows. Nina swiped some rings from her jewelry collection for the ring “ceremony.”
Soon after returning to Boston, I needed a job, but I had a plan: I used to work as a student in my college’s IT department. If I could get hired full time, I could take advantage of their free tuition benefit and get a Master’s of Fine Arts, which would enable me to teach.
Three days after I landed, I took a bus up to Boston and waded through Chinatown to get to school. The smell of chicken carcass, dirty snow, and throat-burning cold air made me feel amazing, and more than that, creative. Home sweet home.
IT gave me a temp job. I lucked my way into a full-time gig in their Lab Operations department several months later. I began to lose some serious weight. Nina and I lived for free at her dad’s. The MFA program was still a year away from opening, so I got comfy with my new income and the nine to five life. I was happy, but I wasn’t creating anything.
And soon after I got home, I grabbed dinner with Jon, who seemed to have lost a little bit of weight. He took dinner very seriously, telling me he was down to 1,200 calories a day. I kept quiet.
Jon, Nina, and I became closer, if that was possible, meeting once a week to talk about our weight loss goals. Jon was infused with an energy I had never seen in him.
Like any good pretentious liberal art college student, I had been engaged in discussions of sexuality, relationships, and gender politics throughout school. I mentioned to Jon and Nina that I was interested in writing a sex/relationship comedy called Sexually Frank, and while I didn’t really know what it was yet, Jon was pushing me.
“When are you going to write that Sexually Frank? You should just write. Just…write it. Just shut up and write it. I’ll pay for it, just write it.”
“Grumble, grumble, grumble, yeah, I don’t have any ideas, grumble, grumble, yeah maybe.”
Not to ruin the ending or anything, but Jon lost over 250 pounds through diet and exercise alone. When he was ready, he also came out of the closet. He was 29.
A great deal of my exposure to homosexuality and general sexual discussion was born out of my friendship with Aaron St. Laurent. Aaron is a wiry, endlessly energetic, hilarious man. He came out of the closet shortly after our high school graduation, which was probably wise – we’re from south eastern Massachusetts, one of the least gay-friendly regions of the country.
While I had always been supportive of gay rights, having a gay and honest friend who would talk about coming out to his family and workplace brought me that much closer to the cause. Being overweight, nerdy, whatever – I was able to relate, to some degree, with the process of coming out, and Aaron’s story became important.
When we would hang out, we would often be with Keith Sadeck, perhaps my oldest friend, a guy I met on a swing set and never fell out of contact with. Rare stuff. Due to his own apprehensions, Keith was still single in his early twenties, and we didn’t make it easier by pressuring him to talk to girls, or to try a new look, or to gussy up his MySpace page. He hated it. We loved him – even if we weren’t very nice.
When you have friends as funny as Aaron, Keith, and Nina, you’d be an idiot not to pick their brains when writing a story. But it didn’t take us long to realize the best stories were right in front of us. Keith’s perpetual singleness. Aaron’s atypical persona as a homosexual. My long-standing monogamy with Nina. An ensemble piece that paid tribute to these relationships, examined through the frame of sexuality, celebrating everything of which I had left LA to return. An unapologetic proclamation that I like what I like – and what is wrong with that?
I started banging out a few pages here and there, pulling from real life, finding it surprisingly difficult to be that open about my life in a film. It wasn’t strictly auto-biographical, but a multitude of characters and story elements were lifted directly from reality. I was going to have to bare all, down to the most embarrassing truths.
Still, one key element was missing – who was going to shoot this movie? I had clumsily shot Ten Pounds when I was in high school, because who else was going to? But when I made A-Bo, Doug Burgdorff acted as the director of photography, and I knew I could never go back to manning the camera. I wasn’t good at shooting, and having a cinematogapher allowed me to focus on the film and not on individual shots. Additionally, I was going to be acting. Doug was the perfect DP – not only was he insanely talented with a camera, but he was an independent filmmaker as well, and knew how important time and budget were. This is rare with young DPs – most are developing a reel without considering the film as a whole. In seeking the perfect shot, these DPs cost too much time to get more setups and the movie suffers. Doug worked quietly and effectively, and more importantly, we were great friends. The DP is the only other person, besides the director, who will be present for every take. You have to trust their judgment entirely, and you need to be in perfect sync. They’re a key member of the family.
So who would that be? Of my local friends, Jon was really the only one competent with AV equipment, and not with cinematography. My film school friends were all in Los Angeles, Doug included. I worked in an IT office of computer nerds. If we needed to set up a storage cluster or a website, I had the resources, but I didn’t know any camera folks.
Several months into the job, my alcoholic, bipolar cube mate was (basically) fired. I was anxious to fill the position with someone less… unpredictable. I knew this one mild-mannered fellow named Dan Leich, who still had a year before graduating, but was approaching his LA semester: until he heard there was an open position in IT. He decided to stay in Boston, in pursuit of this position, and he was eventually hired.
Meanwhile, this Kurt Cobain-looking young man named Cyle Gage was a work study student, but was treated special by the administration. He liked it that way – he was developing our school’s video hosting site, an academic version of YouTube. For whatever reason, the school thought it would be smart to have a student build a widely-used academic tool with no plan to support it after he graduated. Soon, IT realized this and brought him on fulltime. Both Dan and Cyle piled into my cube, where I discovered we had a common taste in awful 80s music and knew all the same Star Fox, Indiana Jones, and Spaceballs references. We shared an odd media-saturated culture that made me feel like I knew them for years.
Dan’s roots were in film and video, and like me, he learned IT in service of media production. He was also an accomplished still photographer, and while he was a student, he bought this hot little still camera called the Canon 5D MK II. I wasn’t a still photographer, so I didn’t pay it much attention.
…until he pointed out that it shot HD video. Then he showed me how shaky it was to operate, because of its size, and how it didn’t shoot at 24 frames per second. I went back to not caring.
But I was taken by his interest in video production. And we already worked together every day and weren’t getting tired of one another. I had seen some of his demo footage, and it looked great. He came from a very studied background, so I was a little nervous that he wouldn’t jibe with our run-and-gun film methods. But the more I learned about him, the more perfect I knew he’d be, and I just had to ask him.
I snuck it into conversation one day, almost asking like a joke. He said no, fairly outright, that he was more of an editor than a shooter. The search would have to continue.
Meanwhile, this Cyle guy had to be on some sort of steroid, because he had boundless energy. I could rarely keep up with how fast he moved, both on the job and in conversation, but it was admirable. He liked getting things done, while not taking it too seriously. But he wasn’t a filmmaker. Not even close. Being a non-film student, Cyle had an outsider’s perspective, and the ability to scoff at the self-important film kids of our school. He would have been the perfect DP for our production if he didn’t have zero experience.
Since I can’t keep any thoughts to myself, I threw it out there one day, again, as a joke (although this time, it was totally a joke.)
“Oh my god, really? Let’s do it. I’m in.”
That was it, for at least a month or so. I didn’t take my comment seriously, and I didn’t take his reply seriously. But I didn’t know something very important about Cyle – he regards playful suggestions as actual plans.
As one of his final electives, he took an experimental film class. Cyle informed the professor that he was shooting an MFA thesis in the upcoming year.
“Um, what? You?”
“Who’s the director?”
“He’s an idiot. You’re not a DP.”
When Cyle relayed the exchange to me, I finally began to take the prospect seriously. Why not? He seemed to have an aptitude for just about everything, as well as a freakish amount of energy. And most of all, a desire to do something (anything) creative. Asking him to shoot was as anti-film student as I could possibly be. So I did it.
Cyle started excitedly posting Facebook statuses like “CAN’T BELIEVE I’M GOING TO BE A DP THIS SUMMER LOL.” He gave me in-depth script notes within a week. He would always give the film that level of energy.
When Dan caught wind of this, he started dropping polite hints that he’d like to be involved.
“If you need another camera op, or a gaffer or something, we could use my 5D…”
It was like he had no memory I had asked him in the first place. But suddenly, the idea of two DPs, who I had business and personal relationships with, made a lot of sense. At best, we’d have two camera shoots, and where Cyle might lack, Dan could pick up. At worst, if one of them couldn’t make a day, we’d do a one-camera shoot. Dan started building his personal arsenal – an all purpose indie filmmaker camera kit, including a PVC pipe rig for that shaky 5D. Stupid thing still didn’t shoot 24p…
But then the 7D came out, and did shoot 24p, and digital SLRs became the toast of the town: a new camera standard for indie filmmakers. Jon Hunt bought one, as well as an intense collection of lav mics and a fancy pants four-channel recorder (the Edirol R-44.) Since his new weight loss, he was excited to have a more hands-on role for the film, and out of necessity and convenience, he became the sound guy.
One day, Dan, bless his soul, fell asleep on the train: his 5D and lens kit were under his legs. When he woke up, they were gone. After a few tears and a whole lot of anxiety, insurance paid for a 7D and even more lenses. Now we had two 7Ds, two DPs, a sound guy I knew for years, and Nina as the tried and true producer.
I had everything but a cast. Finding the right cast is one of my favorite yet most dreaded duties as director.
Sexually Frank has people talking. They don’t skateboard, jump out of planes, take off their shirts, or shoot guns. They talk. Sometimes they get up, walk over to the bed, sit down, talk some more. Sometimes they walk to the car, go for a drive, talk some more.
This is pretty common in indie film. But it’s also why low-budget films have the finest in bad acting. The more a bad actor talks, the more you want him or her off the screen. So this movie needed strong actors. More than that, it needed honest, believable actors.
I don’t cast SAG (Screen Actors Guild) actors. Let’s count the reasons why:
• They require payment, unless you have them sign the student film SAG waiver. Even then, if the film makes money one day (yeah, yeah, I know, it won’t), you owe the actor a percentage of the backend. Am I cheap? Maybe. But when no one else on the film gets paid, and one or two SAG actors do after the fact, it looks bad. And it adds a needless legal complexity to distribution that I don’t want to deal with.
• Union actors work by union rules. That means crew-provided lunches, stricter schedules, and other amenities I can’t afford on my insane, passion-fueled, nomoney, art-kid schedule.
• Committing to some unlikely backend might be worth it to you if you find the perfect actor – but are SAG actors, who are willing to work for deferred, student films, likely to be any good? If they’re working for free(ish), they obviously need more reel material. And if they need more reel material, how did they get into SAG in the first place? They were either a featured extra in a union film, or they paid their way in (which is fairly common.) Either way, how do either of those things distinguish them from the non-union actors? It doesn’t necessarily make them better.
• Lots of non-union actors are awful. Some are competent or have an interesting look or energy. Some are awesome and just not union yet. And they could really, really use your film for their reel, so they can get representation or go union. This is a good incentive, and they’ll work harder on the part, and are more likely to rehearse thoroughly and arrive on time.
So if you need good, non-union actors, and you don’t want to pay a rep house like Boston Casting or Stage Source, you need two things: an online ad (I use nefilm.com), and more importantly, time. I started casting a year out. I was able to fill secondary roles with excellent non-union actors like Maya Murphy, Lou Fuoco, Rose Norris, and even 17-year-old Jackie Coffin. I was, of course, playing the title role of Frank (mind you, not because of my acting ability, but because…well, I’m Frankie. I think “Frank” should be easy enough for me to channel.) What was left? Jess, who was based on Nina, Neil, who was based on Keith, and the characters based on Aaron and his boyfriend Mike.
I really wanted to nail the casting on Jess (the Nina-based character.) I saw some decent actresses, but there was something dry and misunderstood in all of their performances. Something that made me question the integrity and honesty of the writing. It was depressing – I felt doomed to make a disingenuous, ill-represented female figure. And it was so important, for my sake and Nina’s sake, that I got this character right.
So, if you’ve seen the billing on the poster or the back of the DVD, you know I eventually cast Nina. Which seems like a no-brainer now, right? Except, of all the films I’ve made, I had only cast her in a lead role once – a short film I made for a college project. My classmates really dug into “how bad the actress was.” They didn’t know she was my girlfriend.
Additionally, A-Bo had a character named Willie, who was based on a real person. I was tempted to cast the real Willie as “Willie” – until the talented and trained Ben Fisher came along and stole the part. He became the most celebrated aspect of that film. The experience taught me to always go with a “real” actor instead of someone who just amuses me, even if the character is based on him/her. So Nina was out. Not an option.
One night, while ranting about how wrong all these actresses were, I asked Nina:
“What’s so hard about this part? Do me a favor. Just read with me. Just read as Jess.”
We read the gym scene. She played the humor perfectly. It was honest, funny, slightly biting, and also affectionate. She was Nina. And Jess was Nina. Why didn’t I just cast her? I let her know what I was thinking. She became embarrassed and nervous but, much to my surprise, she said she would really like to play this part. It was like spotting a unicorn. I slept on it, and several nights later, we did a very sloppy camera test with the two of us. Jon Hunt asked some online friends to critique it. I didn’t know these people and they didn’t know me. Their only criticism was that she was under-acting. Too real, they said. They did, however, buy our relationship. So in a display of absolute laziness, I threw caution to the wind and cast her. We read the script over and over and over, rehearsing and trading ideas. There were a few tears and serious nerves, right up to the first day and throughout the entire shoot.
And then there was Keith’s character, who I didn’t audition anyone for. Every time I was ready to post an ad, I stopped, and asked myself, “Who can honestly play Keith other than Keith?” I mean, it’s Keith! One look – one look – from Keith, and you get the whole story. His default, human characteristics were perfect, but more than that, Keith’s a smart and funny guy: a bit of a natural performer. He’ll deny it, but he knows where and how to punch lines to make them funny. The only trouble was, Neil has a bit of an emotional breakdown at the end of the film. Asking a non-actor to put their emotions on display like that is a lot to ask.
But we, too, read it over many times, laughing hysterically as he discovered where I pulled some of the lines and situations (right from his life.) If he was bad in the film, at least we were going to laugh the entire time.
And then there were the characters of “Matt” and “Dan,” inspired by Aaron and Mike. No one can make me laugh harder than Aaron, but he’s just not an emotional actor, and he could never commit to that kind of time. So I never entertained it. But I needed someone who could have a tender, private side, while dominating the Keith character and being just as much of a “guy” as anyone in the group. And I needed a more sensitive, but still dignified boyfriend.
Again, I’m lazy. I like what I like, and coming off A-Bo, I knew I liked Ben Fisher and Jon Ryan. Jon Ryan was in Boston for six more months, and then would be off to Los Angeles. I had already lost Ben to New York, but that was within a transportable distance. When scheduling, I realized I would only need Jon for two weekends, and Ben for one. Jon Ryan is heterosexual, but I didn’t need someone to play “gay” – just someone who was layered. And he contained those dominant, jokester characteristics. He was oddly perfect as an “actor” Aaron. And Ben, who is gay, wasn’t thrilled about playing another gay character because he didn’t want to be stereotyped. But when he read the script, he understood that these weren’t “gay characters” – they were characters who were also gay. Jon and Ben loved working with me on A-Bo, and to my delight, they said yes to this movie.
The rest is in the video blogs, available on YouTube and on the DVD and Blu-ray. Cyle and Dan were a tremendous team, as Dan shot his first feature and Cyle shot his first anything. Dan has since become a viable, well-known DP within the Boston filmmaking community, and Cyle has become my primary DP.
Jon Hunt was almost always the first to arrive, with a big sound recorder and vest full of lapel receivers draped around his neck. Just as active and hands on as anyone, he attended nearly every shoot. To my surprise, the crew was genuinely disappointed to finish the film. I always expect my casts and crews to never want to work with me again. But instead of getting angry about our lack of lunch breaks or the late hours, the guys embraced the do-what-it-takes, no-budget, no-nonsense film philosophy, making me feel a little less alone in this business we call show.
Nina Szulewski and Keith Sadeck, who never acted outside of elementary school plays, turned in the most honest, compelling, emotionally candid performances I could ever ask for. They, and the rest of the cast, effortlessly lifted the film out of the usual student film pitfalls. Kids, anyone can act. Forget SAG.
My acting was serviceable. The critical notes I hear are always geared toward my character’s story and his evolution.
“But your wife and that sad guy were great!”
However I failed as an actor, I grew as a director and editor tremendously, in ways LA probably wouldn’t have allowed me. I would be too busy chasing YouTube hits.
We’re all proud of that film. It’s watchable. It’s thought-provoking. It incites argument. The inexperienced DPs shot it beautifully, and they continue to improve with each new project. It’s yet another indie film about 20-somethings talking about their relationships, but I’m often told there’s nothing to compare it to.
More than any of that, it’s everything I left LA to do and to experience in an hour and a half. It’s a crisp, dense, snapshot of who I was at 24 years old. I can hand it to any stranger and say, “Watch this, and when it’s over, you’ll know me.” It’s an examination of why this culture is so afraid of sex, and how it makes people treat one another. It’s a loud, unapologetic thank you to my friends, a network that only expanded by making the film. And it’s a love letter to my wife.
Not to ruin the ending, but Sexually Frank is a big, coarse, honest group hug.