Looking for a movie that combines our current challenges with gaining marriage equality as well as family, love and romance? You’ll find all that and more in I Do, the new film by writer/producer David W. Ross (who also stars in the film) and director Glenn Gaylord (Leave It On The Floor).
The film, in select theaters now and also available to buy on iTunes, focuses on a unique side of the marriage equality debate – that of immigration for a non-US citizen (Ross) who, because of DOMA, is forced to fake a relationship with a woman – who happens to be a lesbian, played by Jamie-Lynn Sigler – in order to stay in the country. The film also stars Mike C. Manning (The Real World), Alicia Witt, Patricia Belcher and Grant Bowler.
I chatted with Ross last week about the challenges of bringing all these issues together in the film, casting his lover in the film as well as how he feels about seeing himself naked on the big screen.
TheBacklot: Did you set out to make a film with a statement like this or did it just come together more organically than that?
David W. Ross: I think that I probably saw it as more of a drama with a little bit of comedy. And it really did start off as a broad comedy like what a funny situation for a gay man to marry a lesbian for a green card. I thought that would make a good gay comedy, but I think that was around the time of the Prop 8 rallies. That was really when things took a turn for me actually.
I called my friend and she said, “You know, remember the day you called me crying over the Prop 8 rally because you saw the kids? You’ve been living this for so many years…” I remember being very choked up seeing all the kids with their parents, and that was when I realized I had to make a far more uplifting film emotionally to try to make a difference.
There are a lot of love stories in this movie, whether it’s a love of a child or love with an older friend and how we create our own family. What were the challenges in creating those different relationships?
Well, the script just took some time to develop and I wanted everybody in the script to be desperate for family. I don’t know if you know anything about screenwriting, but they teach you to find one sentence to sum up your entire movie and then stick it on your computer and everything should go through that one sentence and it should be kind of like the motto of the film. And I finally figured out what I wanted to say was that I believe that marriage is the creation of family and through that everything would pass so everybody in the movie is desperate for family or a sense of belonging and it was really important for me to have a much more universal theme.
Talk about hooking up with Glenn Gaylord who did such a great job directing the movie, especially when he was directing you and your script.
Yeah. I think Glenn came into this understanding what it would be for me since he wrote Leave It On The Floor. He wasn’t in the film, but he was around the making of the film, and I think he wanted to make sure I was included as much as possible. I’m also a very headstrong producer. I also have been working on this for 10 years, so I think that I was lucky to have him include me in the process.
How did Maurice Compte come into the film as Jack’s lover? You guys had great chemistry that really conveyed a lot of emotion.
Some people really love the choice that we made and some people wanted an Adonis. And there was talk of that happening. Then one day the casting director sent me his reel and he was not who I imagined Mano to be at all, but I was like ‘Guys, that’s Mano.’
And then you had Mike C. Manning playing the younger guy who isn’t quite at the same emotional place as Jack and is more of a good time for him.
Yeah. I think it contrasts the thing that Jack is desperate for but doesn’t believe that he should allow himself to have. The reason why Jack is a photographer is because he feels that he’s always living life through a lens. A piece of glass between him and real life. And I think that Craig (Manning’s role) kind of fulfilled that f***buddy who you never really have to face your own long-term stuff. And then Mano is just the opposite. He builds houses! He’s going to build Jack a home!
Are you comfortable watching yourself onscreen? Especially when you’re doing a love scene or you’re doing a nude scene in a shower?
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. It’s not a problem. I mean, I spent six weeks at boot camp so I wouldn’t have a problem with seeing myself in the shower. Although, it was one of those times when you need the shot and we had gone over that day and it was supposed to be a little bit more artistic and a little bit more covered, let’s just say. There was supposed to be a towel, as it was written, and not so much gratuitous, but I think it’s okay.
You have done a lot of things in your career whether it’s singing, acting, writing…do you see yourself more strongly in one arena than the other?
I think I will always be a writer, but I think that for some reason I am searching for a medium and in some ways acting is my love now. There’s something about bringing a character to life, whether it’s a character you wrote yourself or whether it’s a character that someone has given to you.
You essentially have to sit down and use your imagination and you just kind of imagine their life. And in some ways you are writing because you’re writing a back story. And I just fell in love with acting and the process of film-making. I’m looking forward to making more film but making films is a lot of work. I don’t have a life right now. Although, I am in Times Square in New York right now so I shouldn’t be complaining.
What else are you working on? Do you have some other things going on, or are you pretty much all focused on promoting this right now?
As soon as this comes out next week I can have a little break. I’m going to go to Hawaii next week for a festival, but as soon as this calms down I’m going to go on holiday with my boyfriend. And then I’m going to start thinking about writing my next script. And I want to hopefully get me more work as an actor. It is much nicer turning up, reading your lines and going home and not having to worry about social media and Facebook campaigns and how everything is supposed to be.