Although this year’s
Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in
Miami is winding down, the highlight is
still to come. Going Down In LA-LA Land, directed by
Casper Andreas, closes the festival on Sunday, May 1.
Recognizing actors on the silver screen for their good looks and
beaming personalities has become the norm, but let’s not forget
the eyes, ears and overall brains of the film—the one who
carries the torch across the finish line. The director tells the
story and handles much if not all of the behind-the-scenes
action, which is often overshadowed by the glitz and glamour of
a the movie’s stars. Director Casper Andreas recently opened up
to Mark’s List about his new film’s debut, working with actor
Matthew Ludwinski and the cost of making it in
How does it feel to have Going
Down in LA-LA Land as the final night feature at the MGLFF?
Will you be making an appearance?
I'm thrilled! This is my third time having a
feature playing the Miami Gay Film Festival, but it's the first
for me to be the closing night film. I am coming down from
for the festival and I'm super excited. The last time I attended
was with the world premiere of my comedy, A Four Letter Word,
in 2007, and that festival weekend was one of my favorite ones
How did you decide which elements
and story lines to take from the novel by Andy Zeffer?
After reviewing the film, do you think you left anything out?
I left out a lot that was in the book. The
script went through several stages and for every new draft I
probably took more out to keep the story moving. I wasn't too
concerned about it because the novel is a story in itself and it
will still always be there. The film is based on the book
but it's its own thing. What I found most interesting about
Andy Zeffer's novel was all the different ways the characters justify
the outrageous things they do in order to achieve fame and
fortune. I really wanted to explore that journey. How does
someone end up compromising themselves in so many different
ways, as these characters do? I think it was especially
interesting to me because of the crazy fame-fixated culture we
live in today.
What kind of reception are you
expecting from the film?
I really like the film myself, and I think
and hope that most people who come to the screening will enjoy
it as well. The main characters, Adam and Candy, have so many
flaws but yet they are very endearing, so I think everyone will
feel for and care for them. And though the film gets pretty dark
at times, it still has a lot of comedy, so I expect a lot of
laughter—and hopefully a tear or two.
How much did you consult author
Andy Zeffer when developing the script?
Originally Andy wanted us to write the
screenplay together. I, however, really wanted to do my take on
the story so I wasn't really interested in a joint venture. Andy
wrote the novel and that is his story. For me to be
interested in making the film, I had to make it mine. The script
is based on the novel, but it also had a lot of myself in it.
Like Adam, I also pursued stardom in LA for a few years, and
like Adam I also had a zany female roommate for a while who was
constantly looking for men to take care of and support her. So I
could really relate to a lot of things in the novel and I
thought it was a great story. But I knew it would be a struggle
to convince Andy about the changes I wanted to make and I
thought if we wrote it together, it would lead to a lot of
compromises that neither of us would be happy with. So I had to
convince him to let me write the script on my own. I did let
Andy read it, though, and give me feedback on it. And he had
many great suggestions that I incorporated. I do believe that he
will enjoy and be pleased with the finished film.
(Below) Casper with actors Matthew Ludwinski (Adam) & Allison Lane
do you feel is the most important aspect of the story? What are
you hoping your audience takes away from the film?
Again, what interested me the most was how
someone goes from being a sweet, innocent regular guy (with some
big dreams) to selling sex and making porn. That was something I
didn't really feel was explained very well in the novel. In the
book “Adam” says right away, "Sure I'll shoot a solo video.
What's the big deal?" In the film, I want to take the audience
on that journey with him and my hope is that they will
understand and see why he does the things he does even
though most people probably wouldn't think of doing them in a
million years. Ultimately though, the film is a love story and
deals with what is most important in life—love and being true to
who you are versus fame and success? I think those are questions
most people have to answer for themselves at different times and
in different situations, so hopefully the film will give them
something to think about.
Was Matthew Ludwinski your first
choice to play “Adam”?
He was my first choice in the sense that he
was the first and only person I offered the role to. It took me
a while to be certain that he was the right actor for the role.
I had known Matthew for a couple of years, ever since I
auditioned him for one of the leads in my drama Between Love
& Goodbye. He ended up doing a small role in that film and
we stayed in touch ever since. Matthew knew I was making this
film so he kept checking in with me and he was the first person
I read for the role. Once we started casting in earnest,
however, I felt that I should see who else is out there and I
auditioned quite a few actors in LA for the role. A lot of the
really hot young actors in LA would have nothing to do with it
though, since the character is not only gay, but the role also
calls for both nudity and sex scenes. In the end I offered
Matthew the role and we flew him out from
New York City
for the shoot. In retrospect I wish I had saved myself the
trouble of auditioning others and just given him the role right
away. He is so perfect for it in every way, and I couldn't be
happier with what he brought to it. Plus, he is the sweetest guy
even and so easy to work with.
Do you think what happens in the
film happens frequently when “newbies” go to Hollywood?
Have you heard any scandalous stories about the "casting couch"?
There are so many sleazy characters
everywhere who take advantage of young people's hopes and
dreams. It certainly happens in LA and in
New York, but also in smaller
towns. Everyone with dreams of making it big are easy prey for
anyone who says they can help get them started. I know people
who did sell themselves out without getting any of the things
they had hoped to get out of it. I know people who had some
success with it though. I also know people my age or older who
now say they wish they would have gone for it when they
had the chance. Who knows what it could have lead to, right?
Then you hear about stars all the time who supposedly slept with
the right people to get there. I had an acting teacher who said
that these days you can't sleep your way to the top in
Hollywood. You can sleep your way to the
middle, but to get to the top, you have to have real talent.
There is too much money at stake for anyone to give a starring
role in a Hollywood movie to somebody
just because they happen to be sleeping with them.
(Below) Casper as "Nick" in Going Down
in LA-LA Land
an independent film with a gay theme, was it difficult to make
this movie? When do you think Hollywood will
come around to supporting more “gay” films?
Well this is my sixth independent film with
a gay theme and since I've had some successes in the past it
wasn't that hard for me to get the funding and get it going. But
the budget is quite modest. So what was difficult for me this
time was to stick to that budget as the film also is my most
ambitious project, in terms of what I wanted to do with it.
I think "Hollywood"
will come around and support more gay films when everyone goes
and sees them just like they would any other movie. Until that
happens (and I don't think it ever really will), I think it's
hard to expect anyone to put millions of dollars into a film
that mostly will interest a niche market. If I had $50 million
dollars to spend on a film, I don't see myself making a film
catered to the gay audience. It's tough enough to make the money
back on a $200,000 film as the support is just not there.
Do you think “gay movies” carry a
negative connotation and do not get the attention they deserve?
People often complain that gay films have
such low production values. A lot of them do, of course, but one
can't compare a film made for $200,000 to a $50 million dollar
film and expect them to look equally good. That is precisely
what people do though. I try to squeeze as much as possible out
of every production dollar and I often have people tell me that
they can't believe how low my budgets are, that the films looks
so much more expensive, etc. Still they are not going to look
like a big budget Hollywood
movie. What I think people should look for though are great
stories. And gay films do something that no mainstream films
do—they tell stories about us: about our lives, our joys and our
struggles. With my films I don't worry about what a "mainstream"
audience may or may not think. The films I've made so far have
told stories about gay people for gay people. If you are
interested in seeing that then please check them out—and not by
downloading them illegally off some site in
What are some of your upcoming
I'm super busy right now with finishing up
this film and getting it out there, I'm also about to release my
last feature film, the comedy "Violet Tendencies" (starring
Mindy Cohn from The Facts of Life), about a straight
woman and all of her gay friends, on DVD May 24. So in terms of
upcoming projects, I'm not looking to produce anything else
right now. I feel I need a break from producing. Instead I'm
planning to take some time to write and also to pursue getting
hired for acting and directing jobs. I am actually attached to
direct a wonderful script called "Over the Rainbow," so assuming
the producers get it off the ground, I will hopefully be
directing that later this year.
Visit www.embrem.com for
more information about films by Casper Andreas
More about the film: