“This story has been in my head for a very long time."
Stan Madray is a man who has worn many hats in his lifetime. With Hookup, a short film that will screen at this year’s FilmOut San Diego Film Festival, he adds screenwriter and director to an already illustrious list that includes actor, drag queen, real estate agent, and playwright.
Hookup tells the story of a young man named Adam who sets out to meet a stranger he connected with on an app akin to Grindr. We follow him through the streets of the city and inside the gorgeous apartment building where his nameless Hookup lives.
We step into the apartment and take the elegance of the place in until Hookup steps out wearing only a towel. He is a beautiful man, but his expression is hard to read.
For the next few minutes, Madray reminds us of one of the most primal dualities in nature. The most beautiful and the most deadly are often one and the same.
“This story has been in my head for a very long time. I’m 55 years old, so I was hooking up long before the internet existed,” Madray told SDGLN recently, “but when I look back at the things that I did in my 20s and 30s…it was so dangerous and all in the name of immediate gratification.”
Immediate gratification has been the subject of many queer short films in the last decade with the advent of any number of apps designed to put willing partners at the swipe of your finger on a phone screen, and Madray knew his story idea would work. He just had to find the right participants.
He had known Zach Lane, the actor who plays the anonymous Hookup, for quite some time, but he needed an actor who could project the required Ganymede-esque sensuality of Adam.
“I did not know Greg [Sanchez], the actor playing Adam, before casting,” Madray said. “He went to the same acting school that I did in Orlando, and when I called and asked if they had anyone who might fit what I was looking for, he was in the list of names they sent over.”
Once he had made his choice, however, he took the list to Zach to make sure that it was the right choice for both of them. The actor, who is straight, wanted someone that he could feel safe with in intimate situations that were well outside of his comfort zone, and Madray knew finding that chemistry was essential to the film’s success.
“I also didn’t want to have your stereotypical ripped, circuit boy, gym bunnies in these roles,” Madray further explained. “Zach and Greg are both attractive men, but neither of them look like they just stepped out of a gym or someone you’d call a supermodel. I like that they were more ‘everyday’ attractive.”
Between Greg having his first appearance on film and Zach’s stepping into a sexual situation in which he was not entirely comfortable, the two manage to convey a tension that is quite amazing in Hookup, and the final product is really a beautiful film to see.
Madray is adamant, though, that the look of the film is largely due to his fantastic cinematographer, Christian Stella.
“I had just finished acting on a project working with Christian as cinematographer and we had hit it off nicely,” Madray said. “After shooting wrapped, I did some Googling and discovered that he had worked on quite a number of successful projects so I wrote him told him I’d like him to be my cinematographer, and he immediately agreed and asked to see the script.”
Stella brought a veteran’s eye to the project that nicely complemented the Madray’s nascent directorial instincts. He also brought his wife, Elise, onto the film to run sound.
The director kept everything small and controlled on set, shooting in his own home with only six people-the two actors, himself, Christian, Stella, and Madray’s husband who served as the makeup artist on the film-present so that everyone, including himself, was relaxed while filming.
“It was one of those things where no matter what we could have done to mess this up, it was all lining up as we needed it to,” Madray said, laughing.
At the end of the two-day shoot, as everything came together, he realized he had created something he could be proud of and would be happy to share with the rest of the world.
You can see Hookup at FilmOut San Diego on Friday, June 8, 2018, at 9:30 pm at The Observatory-North Park
FilmOut presents the San Diego LGBT Film Festival is on Thursday, June 7, 2018, at 7 pm to Sunday, June 10, 2018, at 7 pm at the Observatory North Park.
The Observatory North Park is located at 2891 University Ave, San Diego, 92104
Get your tickets by clicking HERE.