The new film Gayby has come a long, long way from the original short director Jonathan Lisecki wrote back in October of 2009 “the night before shooting began” as he explains. Opening in limited release tomorrow, the film, which stars Jenn Harris, Matthew Wilkas and Jack Ferver from Hunting Season, has earned raves from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and the New Yorker to name just a few.
The short first premiered at Slamdance in 2010, and within months Lisecki was working on turning it into a feature. “I wrote it in May, shot it in August and then spent two months editing,” he explains. From there the film went on to play South by Southwest, the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Ashland Film Festival, where it managed to snag the Audience Award and a best acting ensemble mention for Harris and Wilkas.
The incredibly quick turnaround and tight schedule would surely drive most people to insanity, but Lisecki seems to take it all in stride. “It’s easier to make an independent film than it is to adopt a child in NYC,” he says, in keeping with the movie’s theme.
The film tells the story of best friends Jenn (Harris) and Matt (Wilkas) who decide to have a baby the old-fashioned way, despite Matt being gay. An absurd idea, but something that interests Lisecki, who cites the similarly absurd Humpday as one of his favorite films.
And when it came time for casting, Lisecki just went out to his social circle. “Jenn and I met in 2003 when we did a play at Pyramid Club called Drugs. She was the only person that could make me totally break on stage.”
Jenn in turn brought in Mike Doyle to play the role of Scott, Matt’s love interest. “Jenn and Scott starred in a play together that was a comedic take on The Laramie Project, The Plank Project,” says Lisecki.
And in the role of Nelson, the effeminate bear who is best friends with Matt, Lisecki cast himself.
One of the most refreshing things about Gayby is that the gay characters in the film are actually played by gay men, something that is seldom, if ever, seen these days.
“Part of why you create your own work is because what is out there is limiting,” says Lisecki. “Especially if you don’t want to pretend to be straight.”
“I have no interest in casting straight people as gay people,” explains Lisecki. ”Straight actors see playing blind, disabled or gay as award winning. And I know so many great gay actors that can’t get roles.”
The resulting film is both hysterical and touching and, after two hours in Lisecki’s world, the idea of a gay man and his best friend having a baby doesn’t really seem absurd at all.
As for future projects, Lisecki says he is working on stuff but is hesitant to reveal more than that,
Check out the trailer for the film below and, as an added bonus, we got Lisecki to answer our nine questions.
1. Movie line you use, possibly too much.
You wont believe me if I say the entire “distribution costs” speech from Network, but that it is a favorite. Otherwise it’s ones you can guess from Valley of the Dolls, All About Eve, Heathers and Showgirls.
2. Church of Scientology or Church of Latter Day Saints?
Church of the Poisoned Mind
3. Trend you’d be happy to see the end of?
4. Favorite Cher song & why?
“Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” because I relate to all three. But if we are including video then “If I Could Turn Back Time” all the way. The outfit alone.
5. Which Spice Girl are you?
Old or Jamaican All
6. Marry, F*ck, Kill: Anderson Cooper, James Franco, Andy Cohen
I’m married but if my husband wouldn’t kill me I’d fu*k all three. Although can Andy Cohen be played by Taran Killam like on SNL? I love him.
7. Who do you stalk on Facebook?
I don’t really stalk anyone but I have a very photogenic friend named Blake who posts a lot of pictures that I definitely keep track of.
8. Best drunk text you’ve ever sent or received?
The last time I was drunk, texting wasn’t even possible.
9. Lie you always tell?
I often tell people I am “so busy” when in reality I am sitting in the tub playing video games on my iPad