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SAN DIEGO -- Closing FilmOut San Diego's 13th annual LGBT Film Festival is the thought-provoking film “The Green,” written and produced by Paul Marcarelli.
You might recognize Marcarelli from the Verizon Wireless “Can you hear me now?” advertising campaign that began in 2002. However, Marcarelli is far more than the ubiquitous commercial “Test Man,” highly evidenced in his new film.
In an exclusive interview, Marcarelli talked with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News about coming out, shooting a feature in less than three weeks, and the joy of seeing through a labor of love from start to finish.
SDGLN: What inspired you to write the film "The Green?"
Our director, Steven Williford came to me back in 2008 with an idea for a film about a highly assimilated and well-liked suburban gay couple who are faced with an incident that reveals the hidden homophobia simmering beneath the surface in the seemingly liberal and "tolerant" community they call home. At the time, the pending election and the collapse of the financial markets seemed to be bringing out the worst in people, and I was giving a lot of thought to the way in which people in otherwise very civil communities, when faced with the fear of a loss of foothold in the world will often go after the rights of others. There's this tendency people have when living in a generalized state of fear that as long as someone -- or some group -- is worse off than I am, I feel a little less fearful about my own tenuous hold on the things I have come to feel entitled to.
Did you receive any backlash after you came out in May? If so, did you find writing "The Green" to be cathartic?
Well, I'm 41 and I've been out since I was 19 and have always lived my life openly, and it was only in this past year, promoting my work as a filmmaker, that I have had any public persona to speak of outside of the face recognition that came with my job of the past ten years. When my sexual orientation did come up in an article back in March there was a bit of buzz around it. Apparently I was trending on Yahoo for a day, and the New York Post had a headline decrying the revelation of my "bizarre life." I took that description to be a not-so-subtly-coded way for the news that I was gay to be telegraphed as something scandalous and salacious. I thought the whole thing was kind of absurd, but fascinating to stand outside of and watch unfold.
Following your lengthy and highly-touted campaign with Verizon, do you prefer being in front of the camera or behind it in your producer role?
I like telling stories. I've been doing it since I was in grade school. And having been involved in telling stories in various media and in various capacities my whole life and my whole professional career, I can't say I prefer one medium or role to the other. I find that each of these experiences informs the work I do in other areas. Right now I like that I get to express myself in all these different forms.
"The Green" appears to be the first film for your production company Table Ten Films. Is it a better working experience to see your film produced "in-house" rather than optioning it to a larger studio?
I wrote and sold a film several years ago that went into production and shot for like two weeks before someone pulled the plug on it. To this day I don't really know what happened and I vowed to myself that I would make sure I was a producer on the next one so if it fell apart I would have no one but myself to blame. I love that in my work with Molly Pearson (my partner at Table Ten) we are able to create an entire project from beginning to end, assemble a team of gifted professionals with the shared aim of making something in the most efficient way possible that is exciting and has something to say, and then framing the dialogue surrounding that product irrespective of larger interests outside that of audience and investor.
Did any problems arise during filming?
Are you kidding? We shot a feature film in 17 days! If problems didn't arise it would have meant we were all endowed with superhuman powers. I have an old friend that has been producing theater in New York for many years. She always says the first rule of producing is "Expect crisis." Once you know that something bad can and certainly will happen at some point during the day, you are far less likely to freak out whenever someone's wardrobe is irreparably damaged or someone forgets a call time or an actor is in a nasty mood or the only camera in a two-hundred mile radius is making a strange and ominous humming sound that no one can figure out and you have nineteen-and-a-half pages left to shoot that day ...
Having already screened your film at several film festivals nationwide, how do you feel about the responses you've received thus far?
It's been incredible. Because the film appeals to a diverse audience our festival experience has run the gamut. For primarily straight audiences in places like Dallas, Maine, Rhode Island and Connecticut, to primarily LGBT audiences in San Francisco, New York and San Francisco. The audience response is different of course from place to place depending on the makeup of the crowd, but across the board, we are thrilled that audiences find the story compelling. The talkbacks after the screenings are always dynamic and thought-provoking, which is exactly what we had hoped for. A large part of the success of course is Steven's beautiful direction, the amazing cinematography by Ryan Samul, and the outstanding cast.
What message do you hope audiences take away after viewing this film?
The title of the film is a reference to the central square that is such a prominent part of the life of New England towns like the one in which this film is set. The green is the place where early communities came together to figure out how to get along with one another, settle differences ... The green is the civic heart of a community. Some refer to these squares as "commons." I like that. The film ultimately is about how different kinds of people need to find a common language and figure out a way to live together. We're all trying to do that, some communities better than others.
“The Green” is the closing feature for FilmOut this year, showing this Sunday at 7:45 pm at the Birch North Park Theater. This ticket also includes entry to the closing party at URBN Coal Fired Pizza. To purchase tickets, please click HERE. For more information on “The Green,” please click HERE.