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FilmOut: “Such Good People,” a gay twist on the screwball comedy

(Editor's note: SDGLN is featuring Q&A interviews with leading filmmakers from around the world who are participating in FilmOut San Diego's 16th annual LGBT Film Festival, running May 30 to June 1 at the historic North Park Theatre. Follow SDGLN for all the news about one of the top LGBT film festivals in the U.S. The West Coast premiere of “Such Good People” will be at 5 pm Sunday, June 1.)

SAN DIEGO, California – “Such Good People” is an old-fashioned screwball comedy, except with a big ol’ gay twist.

Michael Urie (“Ugly Betty”) and Randy Harrison (“Queer As Folk”) star as a gay couple who find $1 million while house-sitting at their dream home in Los Angeles. But when their wealthy friend dies abroad, they find themselves caught up in mystery, greed, jealousy, sibling rivalry, greyhounds, labradoodles, porpoises and the poor little orphans of Bhutan.

Scott Wolf, Ana Ortiz, Drew Droege, Alec Mapa and Lance Bass co-star in the kooky comedy.

Screenwriter/producer David Michael Barrett, director Stewart Wade and producer David Avallone speak about the making of “Such Good People” and how they were about to assemble such a great cast.

Q: Who will be attending FilmOut San Diego’s 16th annual LGBT Film Festival?

DMB: Since San Diego is so close to Los Angeles, we expect a great many members of our cast and crew will be coming to the screening, including Stewart Wade (director/producer), David Avallone (editor/producer), and myself, David Michael Barrett (writer/producer), and we will know more about who's coming as the date gets closer.

Q: David Michael Barrett, how would you describe the plot without revealing too much? As screenwriter, what kind of tone were you aiming for?

DMB: The story is about greed and jealousy -- and what happens when good people discover a million dollars in cash. The tone I was shooting for was to do a contemporary gay spin on one of those great screwball comedies from the 1930s and 1940s. In terms of the writing, I think our cast and director Stewart Wade did a fantastic job realizing everything I had hoped for when writing the script.

Q: Stewart Wade, as a director, your clever opening using animation gets the screwball comedy off to a good start. Were you inspired by the “Pink Panther” movies?

SW: Absolutely! Also the great animated openings of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World" and "Ruthless People."

Q: David Avallone, can you describe how “Such Good People” landed such a terrific cast?

DA: I think people will be surprised to hear that we put this cast together ourselves, and we didn't have a casting director. We would love to have had one, but our budget was just a little too tight for it, and we were able to manage. Between the three of us, we had some kind of personal connection or other to most of the main cast ... sometimes once removed, but close enough to get them a script. And once they had read the script, they were eager to come on board.

Alec Mapa, as an example, was in the last film Stewart and I made together and we were thrilled to have him back with us. Speaking personally, James Urbaniak and Rick Overton are old friends of mine, and I had directed Carrie Wiita in a short film and been very impressed with her. We love Carrie, and we think audiences are going to feel the same way.

We did have auditions for some of the parts, and found some amazing people (like Tania Gunadi and Kee Chan) through that process.

Q: What do you want audiences to remember about the film after they leave the theater?

DMB: Hopefully, they will remember to never deposit a million dollars in any one bank account, that porpoises are the people of the sea [you’ll have to see the movie to get this reference!], and real change comes from within. Mostly, though, we're hoping they remember how hard they laughed.

Q: The film “looks” like a big-budget movie, yet you used Indiegogo to raise funds to finish it. What does this say about the indie film industry in 2014?

DMB: Today, micro-budget filmmaking allows small movies to have a big look. We shot the film on the Red Epic Camera (the same camera used for "The Hobbit"), which allows for quicker set-ups and gives the film a fantastic look. The real challenge was finding great locations to tell the story (we used one of our producer's homes), plus we called in favors and had a fantastic line producer, Christine Treibel, who actually brought us in under budget. We were so thrilled how much the Los Angeles creative (and LGBT community) truly did show up to help get our movie made. We are fortunate to know an endless amount of talented and creative people who all played a part in helping us create the film.

Also, one of the amazing parts of making the film was truly the worldwide support we received from our two crowd source funding campaigns. Our movie has friends and supporters from all over the world. We think this is due to our fantastic cast plus that our movie is an old-school feel-good comedy.

Another huge part of why our movie has such a big budget feel is our uber-talented composer, Jonathan Dinerstein, who gave the movie a gorgeous and fun score, worthy of the best of Hollywood productions.

Q: How are audiences reacting to “Such Good People” on the film festival circuit, and will the movie be released to general audiences?

DMB: Our world premiere was at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival on May 9. We are very hopeful audiences will love the film.

We have already been approached by distributors and hope the movie will receive a release in the near future.

Q: What’s next for each of you?

DMB: We are all trying to get more projects going. It is the on-going challenge of show business. If anyone would like to invest in a future project of ours, please contact us at SuchGoodPeopleMovie@gmail.com.

Q: What is something your fans don’t know about each of you?

DMB: The three of us who produced the film (the writer, the director and the editor) are all writers. We have found this to be a tremendous asset from pre-through-post production. We all are at heart storytellers as well as filmmakers. And this film is a true collaboration of the three of us.

Q: If you were granted three wishes, what would you do with them?

1) World peace

2) For our film to receive get the biggest audience possible

3) While house-sitting, to discover a secret room with a million dollars in it.

About FilmOut San Diego

FilmOut San Diego affirms the ongoing integrity and boundless imagination of our community and the artists who tell our stories. We believe our work is an integral part of an ongoing effort to build a vibrant, affirming and sustainable LGBT community in San Diego County. We hope you will join us.

Financial support for FilmOut San Diego is provided in part by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts & Culture. While attending our festival, please spend time in America’s Finest City, support our neighboring restaurants, and enjoy the many museums, parks, beaches and other recreational facilities that out city has to offer.

Festival tickets are now on sale HERE.

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Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at ken@sdgln.com, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.