All people want to connect. Whether sexually or emotionally, we humans will do all sorts of things to find someone to feel close to: for a few minutes or a lifetime. And now, with technology’s assistance, it’s easier (or harder?) than ever.
In the short film GRIND, the filmmakers wanted to address that basic motivation and the prevalence of smartphone apps and people’s willingness to engage with complete strangers by asking the question: “Do you really know who you’re talking to?”
Starring Anthony Rapp (If/Then, Rent), Claire Coffee (Grimm, The West Wing), and Pasha Pellosie (The Carrie Diaries), the short musical film takes a sexy (and scary) look at hook-up culture in contemporary gay life. But Telly Leung, the TV and stage actor who produced the short, doesn’t want people to think it has a judgmental message.
“This isn’t a morality tale,” he says. “We just wanted to look at what can happen in this kind of world. We all yearn to find love. And we just wondered if it's much more difficult these days with all you know about a person. Or is it faster: you never could have met 100 people in an hour before. But that also means you are opening yourself up to more rejection—the emotional highs and lows—as well."
With so many accomplished theater professionals, especially stars of stage musicals, don't be surprised by the slick pop sounds that could be in a Top 40 remix. As Leung explains, "We didn’t want it to feel like a musical, we wanted it to sound like Industry on a Friday night in Hells Kitchen."
Prior to the general release on Oct. 1 via GrindShortFilm.com, Out is offering an exclusive screening of GRIND: The Movie for readers. Written and directed by Zachary Halley, the film features music by Derek Gregor and lyrics by Selda Sahin. The digital soundtrack EP — with five new songs performed by Anthony Rapp and Eric Michael Krop — is available on iTunes and Amazon.
“We shot the film about a year ago and since then, the Tinder thing has exploded,” Leung explains. “So I think straight people are understanding what it is to have a mobile app and to date and connect in that way. Our main character happens to be gay, but you could replace him with a woman and it would work.”
Leung is celebrating 10 years together with his partner, so they happened to meet before the ubiquity of apps—even before Facebook. But they still had the help of the Internet. “We were chatting on Friendster for three weeks before we met in person,” he says. “It was a safe distance, like being pen pals.”
Watch an exclusive screening of GRIND: The Movie below. Due to adult themes, viewer discretion is advised.