Preview: Outfest 2010
By Eddie Shapiro
I wonder if short films like yours, Heath, would even get produced if film makers didn't know that they had festivals like Outfest where they could be shown.
Daniels: I made my film because of Outfest. It was first on the list [of festivals] I wanted to take the film to. I was at Outfest a couple of years ago and I was like, "I want to play here someday." With Outfest, I can be in Los Angeles, with my people, and have my movie on the screen. That's what I want. The whole time I was making it I was like, "It has to get into Outfest!"
Shalem: With shorts, you know you're putting your own money in. You don't really see any money. We shot the movie in two and a half hours. I actually made it as a gift to Jane Lynch, who is getting the Outfest Lifetime Achievement Award. My other objective was to sleep with David, but he's attached.
[To David] That's not how you got your role?
Shalem: Actually he got his role because he was our caterer.
Burtka: I am a caterer as well as an actor and they asked me to cater the shoot. I was chef-ing the whole day and then, in the last 20 minutes, Guy was like 'Come on.' So I shot the last 20 minutes and ended up in the film.
Shalem: He just jumped in, no preparation. And he was so good!
Three of you are gay actors and in 2010 I think it remains an interesting question whether or not actors should come out. There was that infamous Newsweek article about how gay actors can't play straight and while I am sure we all disagree with the article's point of view, how is it for you, as gay actors, seeing that a piece like that even gets printed?
Shalem: Sean Hayes went back in the closet, by the way.
Burtka: I know a lot of actors who are still in the closet who think it's going to help them. It's not going to help them mentally or in their personal world and aren't they sort of linked? If you are not comfortable in your skin, how can you be comfortable in an audition room? Or acting in a play? I have no issue with it. I played straight on Broadway but I have never had that discrimination. When I moved to L.A., I had one casting director call me "light"'
Downs: I've been called "light" before.
Is that a problem? Is it like, 'Oooh! I'm busted!'?
Daniels: No one is mistaking me for Russell Crowe. I don't think it's ever been a question, really. I don't think I would ever get cast as a romantic, straight lead and I am not pursuing that. I am fine with that.
Burtka: The great thing is that there are so many great, rich gay characters. The spectrum is huge and we are seeing more gay people in movies. So if I play a gay guy the rest of my life, that's fine. As long as I am acting.
Downs: When I was a little younger, I had it in the back of my head, Do I say something? Do I not? This film has been really pivotal for me. People have reacted really well, knowing that I am gay and playing gay. I was recently asked if I was out and I said, 'I was never really in.' I don't have a monkey on my shoulder.
Even though there was no coming out for you, this movie gave you the opportunity to say 'By the way, I am.' That's a big deal.
Downs: It's perfectly placed in terms of career and time. For a long time I had wanted to play a gay character, but maybe if it happened five years earlier I wouldn't have handled it the same. The right part came along at the right time. It happened in an interview with a Detroit paper. I started talking and it came out and it was like, "That was easy, that was fine. I didn't implode or explode." Ever since then, it's been easier just to be open and honest.
What about the festival are you most looking forward to?
Ghuman: My film is a dark comedy. I am interested to see how this community reacts to it.
Daniels: Seeing my movie at the DGA! It's acceptance in the fact that I made a good enough film that Outfest is honoring it with a screening. I live in Los Angeles, I made a film in Los Angeles, and its screening in Los Angeles on a massive screen with a really appreciative audience. I can't wait. I am really honored.
Downs: I remember coming to Outfest eight or nine years ago and thinking, I would love to have a film here. And now it's happening! Plus it's shot in West Hollywood, so to show it here is a total homecoming.