“I have certainly known a lot of people who have felt this way."
Stewart Wade is excited and nervous for audiences to see his new film, Say Yes, which will have its world premiere at this year’s FilmOut San Diego Film Festival.
This is not the first time his films have played the festival, but it is the first time he’s bringing a serious drama to their screens.
“It’s a beautiful theater and it’s quite large and the audiences at FilmOut have always been great,” Wade explained. “My previous movies were comedies, though, so I’m not sure what to expect this time. It’s definitely going to be different.”
Say Yes is sure to stir discussions that have never surrounded the writer/director’s work before as it tackles subjects like bisexuality and sexual fluidity. They are timely topics, but also topics that bring with them a great weight of responsibility and no little amount of controversy in the LGBTQ community.
The film centers on Lily (Leah McKendrick), her husband Beau (Patrick Zeller), and her twin brother Caden (Matt Pascua). When Lily is diagnosed with cancer with a grim prognosis, she decides that it would make her happiest if Beau and Caden became a couple when she is gone.
While the premise might sound a bit far-fetched at first, Wade says the story evolved from two very real occurrences.
The first was involved a dear friend of his who died far too young from cancer. She was a wife and mother and it hit the director quite hard.
The second part was inspired by a story he read on Reddit.
“There was this straight guy who had gotten very sick and had been nursed back to health by his straight best friend,” Wade said. “In the process, the two had fallen in love and had to figure out how to be a couple when neither had ever been in a same-sex relationship before.”
Both ideas struck Wade on a deep level and he soon found himself writing Say Yes in response. It was, again, uncertain for the gay filmmaker as he explored the themes he had chosen, or perhaps had chosen him.
As the writing neared completion, he shared the script with a fellow writer, who had worked on his previous film, Such Good People.
“I showed him this script, and he loved it except he said he didn’t buy it,” Wade said laughing. “I was like, I know you’re not like that, but that doesn’t mean that one else is or that they haven’t had this experience.”
To be fair, he was not surprised by his fellow writer’s disbelief, and he openly discussed his own previously held ideas about bisexuality and sexual fluidity as well as those he’s found present in the queer community.
“I have certainly known a lot of people who have felt this way,” he said. “You hear people said that ‘bi is just a stop on the way to Gayville’ and that kind of thing, and it just seemed so dismissive of someone else’s experience.”
That kind of thinking spurred the director on to create Say Yes, however, and it was important that he created characters who were not “kidding themselves.” They genuinely had feelings for both men and women, and it was as honest and real as possible.
“For older gay people, I think it’s hard to imagine or understand not wanting the label,” he explained. “The younger generation just seems much more open to being who they are regardless and without the name.”
The story he managed to create is as complex and beautiful as its subject, and his actors embraced their respective roles with an intensity that, he admits, even had him in tears while on set.
It is difficult to not be moved as Beau and Caden explore their evolving relationship even as they attempt to come to terms with Lily’s illness and the fact that they will soon be without the one woman who had previously been their only connection.
You can see Say Yes at FilmOut San Diego LGBT Film Festival on Saturday, June 9, 2018 at The Observatory-North Park. Tickets are available online.