When offered the role of brooding graffiti artist Zach, Trevor Wright (above, left) was worried by the description �gay surfer movie.� While the character�s dramatic arc rested on balancing his awakening sexuality and personal fulfillment against the needs of his deadbeat sister and young nephew, there were plenty of action shots -- shirtless action shots. As images of chiseled, oiled gods loomed large in his mind, he had only six days before shooting began to get his abs in shape. �I definitely started a diet and did thousands of sit-ups every night before shooting,� he laments. �But I didn�t have any time to try!�
Luckily for Wright and costar Brad Rowe (Billy�s Hollywood Screen Kiss), Shelter was never meant to be a beach blanket boink-o. Instead gay first-time feature director Jonah Markowitz set aside the body oil and rescued his hunky straight actors from the riptides of clich�.
�If we were too ripped, people wouldn�t be able to pay attention to the story,� smirks Rowe. Emotional nuance checked the duo�s sexual steam, making their slow-burn chemistry while riding waves (and then each other) believable rather than conveniently titillating. �There was a very large gay and lesbian contingent on set with us, and they gave us the thumbs-up, so we felt we did OK.�
Wright credits Markowitz�s keen pacing of the intense 19-day shoot to allow a natural progression in his sexual discovery as Zach. �I always read that so-and-so celebrity lost 40 pounds for this role or that this actor went and did research and became homeless for two weeks for that role. It�s so rad. I love that shit. I�d love to really get into that Method-y kind of role and really just be this guy.� So when buddy bonding finally overflowed into passion, Wright didn�t need memories of past lady liaisons to keep the kiss action natural. �I saw his eyes, and they were Brad�s, and that was that.�
Shelter premieres on Here TV April 18 and DVD May 27.
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