Thursday, January 28, 2010

FOURPLAY: Paul Soileau gets gigantic!

Paul Soileau, star of SAN FRANCISCO, blows up like Godzilla on uranium into "The Three Faces of Paul" on the cover of this week's Austin Chronicle. Check out the article and the hilarious interviews with his alter egos Christeene and Rebecca Havermeyer, too!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

4PLAY: DP PJ Raval... (PT 02)

The second part of my interview w/ DP PJ Raval. He and Paul (star of SF) have a big week ahead of them w/ the launch of Christeene's EP at Elysium on Friday (1/29). If you are in Austin, check it out, it's gonna be something else... entirely. - Kyle

3) How do you approach your work when you are asked to do A LOT on a VERY LOW budget? What tips could you pass along to budding dp's?

I think it's important to recognize high budget doesn't make a good film. Good ideas, good use of resources, good storytelling makes a good film. So for low budget work one always has to keep that in mind first. Be resourceful, be creative, use everything and anything that can help you accomplish this. With that said be flexible and spontaneous. On a practical level it's helpful to have lots of conversations w/ the director of course about the visual approach. Maybe you can't do sweeping crane shots but maybe that same concept can be told with the tools you do have available. Also have lots of conversations w/ the production designer especially since their color pallette and choice of set pieces really influences what you can do (i.e. lamps for lighting, colors for contrast, etc) and definitely use the location itself as the inspiration for blocking and shots. Maybe you can't remove a wall for a shot but maybe you can hopefully find a space and location that naturally allows for your visual approach. also when in doubt simply refer back to the original ideas and concepts of the film - do the visuals fit? if not come up w/ another option right then and there - nothing is ever set in stone...

4) Any interesting/memorable moments you'd like to tell us about from the SAN FRANCISCO or AUSTIN shoots?

A memorable moment for me shooting SAN FRANCISCO was definitely the bedroom scene. Enough said there. Also the AUSTIN porn arcade portion was a challenge - I mean lighting an ALL BLACK space that needs to be dark? Thank god for red lights and semi satin paint!

Monday, January 25, 2010

4PLAY: Enter the writer... (pt 2)

Part two of a three part interview w/ SAN FRANCISCO writer Carlos Treviño:

Q. How did you make this story your own?

A. I changed the mother-and-son dynamic to wife-and-husband to intensify the relationship a bit more: to twang the triangle. There's more at stake for all three characters when two of them are married, and seemingly somewhat happily. The story can then act as a window into the couple's relationship. The wife is the primary caretaker and calls Aliya on behalf of her husband. I didn't make too much of this in the script, and you played it off with even less exposition in the cut. Though Aliya is the main character, questions about the couple are still around: What is their marriage like? How did they get to this point? I also wanted to create the feeling that this was the first time the husband had ever asked for this. If the wife had been somewhat blasé about the whole thing, the story would be about something else entirely. Though willing, the wife is clearly nervous about the situation.

Q. What are your views on marriage?

A. Are you proposing?

Q. We live in Texas, sweetie. I don't think it would do us much good.

A. Presents!

Q. Presents!!!!

A. Right, marriage. Like anything, it can be great in the right hands. Intimacy, trust, and love may be more important than any idea of security or sanctity that marriage usually connotes. I think it makes sense if you're bringing up children, but then, successful, loving families can exist outside the institution of marriage, so... Each couple has to make its own meaning. When the participants stop making meaning, they endanger the marriage.

Q. Is our sex worker a marital aid?

A. Maybe. Presumably, the husband's paraplegic condition changed the marriage a lot already; we hint that it was caused by some accident. Maybe the wife was tired of being nursemaid and sex toy; like--what, I have to wipe your ass AND kiss your feet? Fuck this, let's hire a tranny!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

4PLAY: DP PJ Raval... (PT 01)

The first of a two part interview w/ DP PJ Raval, who recently shot the Academy Award nominated doc TROUBLE THE WATER and my first feature, ROOM. He's an accomplished director in his own right and his feature doc TRINIDAD can be seen in regular rotation on SHOWTIME. - KH

1) You've worked on a lot of films, commercials, music-videos, et al. What makes working on these FOURPLAY shorts unique for you?

FOURPLAY is a unique experience for me in that the individual stories really push the boundaries of current independent cinema. Rarely do you see films today that explore the territory of sexual intimacy in an emotional non-sensationalized way. Films in the 60's and 70's were brave in certain ways that only arthouse films continue to explore - so shooting a film like FOURPLAY can be a rare opportunity for a cinematographer such as myself. With sexual and sometimes graphic content it can be a challenge to keep the images EMOTIONALLY GROUNDED and play against the sexual sensationalized images currently seen in more mainstream media. I always think good cinematography creates AND captures images that push the story and concept forward so it's good to be aware of what those elements are. Sexual intimacy doesn't have to be visually explicit or pornographic.

2) Do you have any personal connection to the material in the scripts? How did any of the material in AUSTIN or SAN FRANCISCO speak to you?

Didn't I tell you I used to be a transvestite sex-worker? Kkay no really, what's most interesting to me is the characters of AUSTIN and SAN FRANCISCO are metaphorically people I know. Characters close to my age, characters similar to people I know and emotions and events they experience. I think everyone including myself has an ongoing personal investment and exploration of sexual intimacy. Being a queer/gay man I've spent a lot of my life exploring my relationship to sex and how it shapes my identity and relationships with others. My life might not be as similar to most stories seen in mainstream filmmaking right now but we all experience the same emotions of desire, despair, longing, discovery... I'm also attracted to stories that explore gender and role-playing so both stories definitely resonate w/ me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

4PLAY: Enter the writer... (pt 1)

Carlos Treviño is the best screenwriter in Austin, TX. I would hire him at the drop of a hat to write anything that takes honesty, courage, emotional depth, piercing insight, wit, and love. I'm also lucky enough to live with him and to have been his boyfriend for almost 12 years. Am I biased? Maybe!

Austinites may know Carlos as writer, director, and actor who worked for over a decade with Physical Plant Theater. His biggest writing/directing hit with the company, co-written with Steve Moore, was NOT CLOWN, which enjoyed a sold-out run at NYC's Soho Repertory and was published last year by Yale's prestigious "Theater Magazine." He co-directed the lauded US premiere of Wallace Shawn's A THOUGHT IN THREE PARTS and performed in the wildly inventive Rockefeller MAP-funded CASKET OF PASSING FANCY, both produced by Rubber Repertory.

I interviewed Carlos by email, two rooms away.


Q. You ready?

A. Yep. I guess our DSL is working today.

Q. What or who inspired SAN FRANCISCO?

A. Hm. The framework of FOURPLAY came first: a collection of short stories, based on sexual experiences of people we know. The idea would be that in each short, a transgressive sexual act becomes personally transcendent—even transforming—for at least one of the participants.

The project had a potential confessional quality that appealed to me. I LOVE discovering secrets. Writing FOURPLAY gave me the chance of looking at myself and my friends in a different way. As for the SF section, you had spent some time with our friend who's a transvestite sex worker (Chloe, featured on the blog) who had told you a version of the story that inspired the SF plot.

Q. He hadn't told you the story before?

A. No, you told me the story first. In fact, I found out only later that you had combined two of her stories into one story, so she cleared the record.

Q. What's his version?

A. *Her* version!!
Early in Chloe's career, a woman called on behalf of her young adult son. He had lost use of his physical faculties in a motorcycle accident only 2 years earlier. His mother was his primary caretaker. She recognized that even though her son wasn't sexually functioning, he nonetheless had feelings that needed an outlet. She had called other girls to help; but they inevitably declined after learning that the kid was paraplegic. Chloe was up for it. She made sure the mother realized she was talking to a TV and not a girl-girl; the mom understood; the kid was straight, she said, but this was what he wanted; she said her son was open to someone open to being with him. So they set up an appointment.

It would turn out to be one of Chloe's most emotional sessions. She could see in the kid's eyes that he felt trapped in his body: a sensation much like transexuals describe when talking about their pre-op lives. For Chloe, the usual challenge of embodying a fantasy was intensified by working with someone who was unable to move or talk. The young man was obviously in need, but how to discern it? How to supply what he needed?

Chloe was struck by the painstaking love with which the mother sought out this gift. Handing her son over, even for a few hours, to an unknown person. The kind of faith and goodwill that would take seemed immense.