There was a time when, to be somebody in Hollywood, you had to go to Hollywood. Nowadays, you can shoot a movie in your own backyard and still be somebody in Hollywood. Such are the hopes of Gil Reyes and Stuart Perelmuter, two new filmmakers from Louisville, Kentucky, whose Fake ID was released by Alluvial Filmworks on 25 May 2004. The film, which is available on DVD only, is in video stores or can be purchased through Reyes and Perelmuter’s website, www.FakeIdmovie.com.
The film follows David (Perelmuter) and Eric (Brian Gligor), best friends who move to Louisville from Kansas to get their start as actors. David soon realizes that he is surrounded by gay men at the theater where they work, and begins to question his own sexual identity after Eric comes out of the closet. In response, David takes lessons in how to act “gay” from friends at the theater and clumsily attempts to pick up a man in a bar. It falls on Eric and his new gay friends to make David realize that he is 100% straight. While Reyes and Perelmuter admit they have included some autobiographical details, they maintain that the majority of their script came from their fertile minds. As Reyes notes, “I wish my life was this fun.”
Despite its apparent adult theme, the film is relatively mild in its sexual content. Many of the men in the film appear shirtless frequently, hairless and buff, but viewers will have to settle for this peek of flesh for carnal gratification. Reyes and Perelmuter insist that their goal was to make a film that was acceptable for teens and adults both. Consequently, the most salacious scene involves a brief male-male kiss. Their goal, the filmmakers state, was to make a comedy/fantasy that would expose the absurd levels to which people will go either to mask or discover their sexual identity.
Perelmuter and Reyes are both in their early 20s, and have been friends since high school. Although Perelmuter currently lives in New York City, the two remain in touch and have plans to work on a second film once their first is in distribution.
Having known Perelmuter and Reyes for several years, I’ve seen them progress from having an idea for a movie to holding an “unofficial premiere” for family, friends, and backers. Recently, I sat down and talked with Gil, who also directed the film, and chatted online with Stuart to discuss the challenges faced by the first time filmmakers and why they chose to make their first film “a trivial gay comedy for serious straight people.” Since both were asked the same questions, I’ve combined their responses here:
PopMatters: So how’s the love life?
Stuart Perelmuter: Afraid that is not in the current stars. Wait, was that part of the interview? Because I can be wittier than that.
PM: No, this is the pre-interview banter.
SP: I have so much to learn.
PM: I’ll ask you both the same questions, and whoever has the better answers wins a prize. To start with, what was the biggest challenge you faced in making the movie?
SP: The challenge did not lie in one specific area. We are trained as theatre people. We’d never done anything like this. Everything seemed insurmountable at times: funding, writing, building a team, be in charge of professionals at 21, rain days, special effects… On the other hand, it was lucky that we’d never done anything like this before because we didn’t realize the giant obstacles we would encounter.
Gil Reyes: A lot of our crew was very experienced on independent shoots, and said, “If you knew the things you should have been afraid of going into this, you probably wouldn’t have made it this far.”
PM: So naïveté allowed you to keep going?
SP: To a point. Naïveté allowed us to start. Stubbornness, pride, and an incredible belief in each other and the project kept us going.
GR: When one of us was ready to give up, the other was like, “No, keep going.”
PM: Are there things you would now do differently?
GR: I just wish I had a little more time, but everybody probably does, wishes they had two more shooting days or another week.
SP: More time would have been huge.
GR: That’s the thing with an independent project: you go from having no team in place to pulling at everybody you can at the same time, because you know that you don’t have the money to sustain it for very long… We spent about a year fundraising and that was the same year that the planes hit the World Trade Center, so there wasn’t a lot of investing going on for several months. Once we were sure the money was in place, that’s when we started calling people.
PM: And, of course, more money would have helped you have more time.
SP: Yeah, it’s a bit of a Catch 22. Barring more money, I think we made a lot of really good decisions. We [did] a lot of preparation, which does not cost much at all. It is exhausting, though.
PM: How do two guys who’ve never made a film go about assembling a crew? Where did you get your contacts?
SP: The important thing for us was to admit to ourselves that we were not qualified for this. So, if you ever had anything to do with filmmaking and we had a way of contacting you, we were taking you out to lunch. Eventually, that resulted in a lot of new knowledge and a lot of names of people. But it was six degrees. It was never, “Hi. Yeah, I’ll have the cheeseburger and be your gaffer.”
GR: I think the DP was the first thing we started working on, and we went through six DPs before we found one. And that’s not, we went through six names; that’s “Yes, I will do this project,” and then calling us a week later, “Oh, no, something came up. I really can’t.” And that’s perfectly logical, coming in for very little money on a no-name project in Louisville, Kentucky.
PM: How did you come up with the division of labor, with Stuart in front of the camera and Gil behind?
GR: Well, we shared the responsibility on writing and producing. Stuart’s focus was more acting in college, and he had just gotten his stage equity card and thought that was going to be his sole focus for a long time, so we wanted to have him in the film. And I was in a similar boat with directing.
SP: I was living in L.A. with the intentions of auditioning, but there was a strike, so I called Gil, my best friend—the writer and director—with the intention of writing something with him that would showcase the things we loved to do: acting for me, directing for him. It seemed pretty farfetched at the time.
PM: And whose decision was it for Stuart to shave his chest?
SP: More importantly, why do we see my shaved chest in every scene?
GR: [Laughing] That was mine. You know, he’s a very furry little boy. And he spends a lot of time shirtless in the film.
PM: Maybe Gil’s trying to market you as a sex symbol.
SP: The other guys in the movie ensure that’s unnecessary.
GR: Even though I’m sure a part of the gay community will see Stuart’s shaved chest and say, “Oh, let’s watch this tonight,” I think the theme and the humor will bring in a young audience of all orientations. That was a way of getting skin in there without having sex in the film. And that’s okay. It was a very conscious decision.
PM: With so many gay themed movies released of late, why did you make a gay-themed movie?
GR: It had a lot to do with this being our first film. We wanted a focus, and a gay-themed film gave us that. We know that we can focus on gay/lesbian film festivals and distributors that distribute primarily gay/lesbian material. Start with one market and work our way out. It was a marketing strategy, really. I think there are a lot of things that are seen just because they are gay-themed, and if that helps me get my film seen, then more power.
PM: Have you had success getting it into the film festivals? Are you focusing on gay/lesbian festivals?
SP: Gay festivals are a large portion of our list, but there are many that aren’t.
GR: You know, we’ve taught ourselves everything as we’ve gone along. And we’ve been submitting to film festivals, (but) we haven’t been marketing to film festivals.
SP: The film festival route is an excellent way to be seen, the best. We haven’t given up on that, but when distribution comes knocking…
PM: What’s been the response to your submissions?
GR: Usually, it’s “Unfortunately, this isn’t going to work out.” Just like breaking up. It looks like we should be seeing Fake ID in video stores and online before we see it at any film festivals.
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