Search form

Scroll To Top

Tastemakers 2014: Carter Smith

Tastemakers 2014: Carter Smith


'I consider myself a filmmaker that’s gay rather than a gay filmmaker,' Smith says.

Photography by Michael Sharkey

A background in fashion photography doesn't always lend itself to a mastery of deep cinematic storytelling. Carter Smith is an exception. His latest film, Jamie Marks Is Dead, based on the novel One for Sorrow by Christopher Barzak, is the tale of a young man haunted by the ghost of his classmate. This all-too-real apparition restlessly seeks friendship and love from Adam, and in the process creates an odd triangle involving a female peer.

Thanks to Smith's deftly ambiguous touch, the delicate line between friendship and love grows increasingly homoerotic, and yet, as blurry as that line is, one might watch the film without pegging the ghost as gay (in fact, at a NewFest screening over the summer, a confused audience member asked what the film was doing there).

"In the book, the sexuality is much more explicit," Smith explains over a quinoa salad at Hudson Clearwater in the West Village. "The way the film is now, it's more sexually and emotionally charged because [the characters] haven't been that close before." Anyone who's seen one of Smith's films, like The Ruins or the short Bugcrush, knows that, without losing the narrative thread, Smith has a knack for throwing his characters (and the audience) into cryptic situations -- it's a means of building tension that's both effective and universal.

"I consider myself a filmmaker that's gay rather than a gay filmmaker," Smith says. "Sexuality affects how you see the world and your experience in the world, but it doesn't necessarily preclude me from telling stories that aren't about gay characters."

When penning his scripts, Smith says he's solely focused on story and character, but after that, the photographer in him takes hold again. "I just want to be with those actors' faces and see every tiny little movement," he says. "That's what's exciting to me."

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Outtraveler Staff