SAN DIEGO -- Hot young filmmaker Casper Andreas is in the spotlight at FilmOut San Diego's 13th annual LGBT Film Festival, bringing the much-anticipated "Going Down In La-La Land" to town as the Opening Night selection.
"Going Down In La-La Land" will be shown at 7:30 pm Friday, Aug. 19, at the historic Birch North Park Theater. The 20-minute short film, director Heath Daniels' "Go-Go Reject," will be paired with the featured film. The Opening Night party follows at the Top of the Park in Hillcrest. Tickets for the evening events are $30.
Andreas wrote, directed and produced the film ... and he even has a supporting role as Nick. The Swedish native, who has lived in the U.S. for many years, has previously made such films as "Violet Tendencies," "The Big Gay Musical," "Between Love & Goodbye," "A Four Letter Word" and "Slutty Summer."
"Going Down" stars former model Matthew Ludwinski as Adam, a handsome and ambitious young man who leaves New York with dreams of making it big in LA. He moves in with his best friend Candy (Allison Lane), an actress who between auditions spends her time at the gym, shopping or looking for a wealthy beau. One thing leads to another, and Adam soon becomes seduced into the steamy underworld of gay porn and prostitution.
In an exclusive interview with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, Andreas spills the beans on his latest movie, how he came to cast a hottie like Ludwinski in the coveted role of Adam, and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of being an out filmmaker in Hollywood.
Q: FilmOut San Diego fans adored your comedy, “Violet Tendencies,” shown earlier this year. What attracted you as a filmmaker to the “Going Down in La-La Land” novel by Andy Zeffer?
A: Thank you so much! Yes, “Violet” is a lot of fun. My new film also has a lot of comedy but of a darker kind. And it's mixed up with the drama so it's more of a dramedy. Having lived the life of a struggling actor in LA myself about 10 years ago, I have a love/hate relationship to that city and I related a lot to (the lead character) Adam’s struggle trying to break into the business. Also I thought the plot of the novel, that involves selling out in every possible way, was a lot of fun and lend itself well to a movie. So for those reasons I asked Andy if he would let me turn it into a screenplay and make a film out of it. I'm very happy he said yes.
Q: How much rewriting did you do with the script, and how does it differ from the novel?
A: I took quite some time writing the screenplay and this was my first adaptation, but I enjoyed the process a lot. It felt a little bit like cheating at times since the plot was already there and I sometimes were able to lift dialogue directly from the novel. But it was also a great fun challenge to figure out how to take a book written in first person where we know everything that Adam is thinking, and figure out how to show the story in the film without resorting to voiceovers.
Reading the book I didn't quite understand why Adam thought that going into porn and prostitution would be a good way to solve his problems and move ahead, so that was something I also challenged myself with trying to convey in the film. I'm hoping the audience will stay with him on his journey and be able to relate to him even though he does things most people wouldn't do in a million years.
My favorite character in the book is Adam's roommate Candy. She is super-fun and another major reason for me to wanting to make the film. But I did change her character a bit to make her less, shall we say, flawed than in the novel. My Candy is totally self-centered but in a very lovable way. In addition to cutting a lot of stuff out that just didn't fit into the film, I also made one other major plot change that, if you know the novel, will not go unnoticed.
Q: “Going Down” has been chosen as the opening night presentation. What should San Diego audiences expect from the film?
A: They can expect a really fun night out! I hope they will get caught up in the drama, the romance, and the laughter, and leave the theater in a great mood! And afterwards they will also get to hang out and party with Adam and Candy and myself at the opening night party. (My two stars Matthew Ludwinski and Allison Lane will be attending the screening and party with me.)
Q: What made you cast Matthew Ludwinski in the starring role of Adam? You had previously cast him in your film, “Between Love & Goodbye.” Is there a special bond between you two?
A: Matthew was up for one of the starring roles in "Between Love & Goodbye" and when I ended up going with another actor I offered him a small role in that film as a consolation prize. We stayed in touch and I always kept him in mind for the role of Adam.
Matthew was actually the first actor I read for the part. He had to work for it though -- I ended up auditioning him at least three times in New York, while I was also reading tons of actors in LA since I felt I had to see who else is out there. Certainly Matthew's looks were perfect for the role, but in addition he brought so much else to the character. I believe audiences will be in love with Adam at the end of the film -- and not just because he is hot. In Matthew's portrayal he comes across as a caring, loving, sometimes goofy, sweet, innocent, and generally good guy.
Q: Adam’s quest for fame and fortune is an age-old story in Hollywood. What makes your film different from other movies that tackled that theme?
A: Yes, of course it's the quintessential Hollywood story, but that is really just the backdrop. It's really a film about friendships, love, going after your dreams, compromising yourself, and in the end -- making decisions about what's most important in life -- is it love and connection, or is it fame and success? I think those are themes most people can relate to on some level even if they never pursued a career in entertainment.
Q: You are a triple threat as an actor, writer and director. Do you have a preference?
A: I don't have a preference. Most people know me as a director but I absolutely love acting (and got a chance to play a great character in this film!) so I'm hoping to do more of that as well. But I also love the solitude of writing, and the fact that one can do that anywhere without anyone's permission. So I'm hoping to keep doing all three.
Q: How have you grown as a filmmaker since making “The Big Gay Musical,” “A Four Letter Word” and your other LGBT films?
A: For each film I grow and become better as a filmmaker, and I always try things that I haven't tried before. "Going Down In LA-LA Land" is definitely my most ambitious film to date and I would also say it's my best one in many ways. Since I come from an acting background, for my first film "Slutty Summer," I was mostly interested in directing the actors and focused most of my energy on the performances. I let my DP put the camera pretty much wherever he wanted. Now I have lots of ideas for how I want to shoot scenes -- the kind of shots I want, what the lighting should be like, etc. But my favorite part as a director is still working with the actors and figure out how to get them to give me the performances that I want.
Q: Does working in indie films give you greater control over the filmmaking process?
A: Yes, absolutely! Since I also raised the money for my films and produced them as well, I have full control. And everybody is entitled to my opinion on not just the things I mentioned -- acting choices, camera angles and lighting, but everything: the casting of course, wardrobe, hair and makeup, locations, set dressing, the editing, the music choices, the credits font-type, all of it. So I really do get to play God in this little world I'm creating during the shooting of a film and it's quite fun. Though my boyfriend -- who does not enjoy me coming home from a film shoot and being in director-mode -- usually brings me back to Earth pretty quickly. And actually I'm looking to give up some of that control for my next film. I'm pretty burned out on producing and would like to just be hired to direct!
Q: Do you always plan to focus on LGBT stories, or do you hope to branch out to mainstream movies?
A: I feel after six gay-themed films I don't have to make any more. But if I come across a great story I certainly would love to do it -- and I actually have come across several of those that I hope to do! I'm very interested in making mainstream movies as well, though in a variety of genres.
Q: What are the advantages/disadvantages of being an openly gay filmmaker?
A: Hmm. I never really thought about that actually ... Being a maker of gay films I think it would be hard for me to be closeted. So I guess the advantage is that I've been able to tell stories that are important to me without worrying about what that says about me. Generally though, I don't see any disadvantages with being gay and directing movies. I don't think anyone really cares. Of course, as we all know, being an openly gay actor is up for debate.
Q: Your next film is called “Over The Rainbow.” What’s that about, and have you cast it yet?
A: Yes, this is one of those gay stories I come across that I would love to tell! It's about a guy who ends up in an alternative world, kind of like a fairytale-land, where there are no gay people, and he sets out to change that and win the prince's heart. It's a very romantic, sweet story with a great message. This is a film I'm not producing though, the financing is still very much up in the air, and we don't have a start date yet. So no, it has not been cast.
Q: What is something that your fans don’t know about you?
A: Gosh. I don't know. I'm always over-sharing so I hope there is something! Talking about over-sharing though, I'm actually more guarded now with what I say during festival Q&As because these days people shoot those things with their phones and post them online. So if you want the real dirt, you have to ask me one-on-one at the opening night party afterwards!
To visit the film's website, click HERE.
FilmOut San Diego’s 13th annual LGBT Film Festival will be conducted over two weekends: Aug. 19-21 and Aug. 26-28.
Almost 60 films and shorts will be shown at the historical Birch North Park Theatre.
To buy individual tickets, click HERE.
To buy a film festival pass to see all the movies and attend the opening night party at Top of the Park in Hillcrest as well as the closing night party at URBN Coal Fired Pizza in North Park, click HERE. The cost is $150.