Gayby with Jonathan Lisecki

Actor Jonathan Lisecki‘s first feature film in the writer-director’s chair has its London premiere at the LOCO Comedy Film Festival tomorrow.

Gayby follows what happens when two best friends – one of whom happens to be a straight woman, the other a gay man – decide to have a baby together… the old-fashioned way.

I caught up with Jonathan to find out more about the movie.

You developed Gayby from your second short film of the same name. Where did the idea come from?

I had a friend in college I made a similar pact with.  In reality she wound up having a child with someone else before I wrote the short. In retrospect I think I wrote Gayby as some form of art therapy. I was a little saddened by the fact that this specific option was no longer available to me. I think the best comedy comes from a place of truth.

You’ve worked as an actor and director in indie theatre. How’s that experience contributed to your filmmaking?

It definitely prepares you for the fact that there will often be seemingly insurmountable problems and a constant lack of funds that you have to roll with.  You also learn in theatre to do every job so that when you eventually have collaborators you know what language they speak. That is a very helpful way to go about learning film. Also I worked on a lot of original plays. There was always the spirit of fun, discovery, and playfulness with the ability to change things around that wouldn’t exist with a classic work. I try to take that sense of play into the process of making film.

You wrote the lead roles for Jenn Harris and Matthew Wilkas. They’re actually great friends in real life – that must have been a gift in terms of getting the right on-screen chemistry?

I wrote the original short about a friend of mine in college and was going to cast different people. Then when the actress I originally wanted became unavailable I immediately thought of Jenn and Matthew who I had done theatre with in New York on more than one occasion. They have a similar vibe to what I wanted in their relationship but they would be the first to say they are not the characters they play in the movie. They aren’t going to have intercourse any time soon. Everyone in the film is someone I am friends with, and genuinely wanted to work with because aside from being talented they are all good people. And that kind of camaraderie does help for sure.  It also makes the set fun.

How important was it to you to play around with movie stereotypes?

As someone who pursued acting as a profession and had to audition for countless stereotypes, it is impossible for me to not want to poke a little fun. The roles in Gayby that would be stereotypes in other films are written with intelligence, a sense of self, and inherent sexuality. They are a combination of comedic commentators, voices of reason, and a type of Greek chorus.  I do not write eunuchs who are purely in the film to say some variation of, “You go, Girl!”

There’s a great dance scene in Gayby. How much fun was it filming that? What was the inspiration?

I just wanted a character to say “a dance break” and then to actually have one. I love to balance dialogue driven comedy with the physical. It was important to me to have moments of pure physical escape. I enjoy films that have moments like this. I can’t point to a specific inspiration. I just know that in my first feature film I wanted a dance break and a musical sequence. And one survived the cut.

I read there was going to be a musical dream sequence too. Why did you decide against that?

We shot it. But I knew even then that we didn’t need it for the narrative to work. The scene where the sister Kelly gets Jenn out of bed is much better on its own. It would have come just before that. Also the sequence wound up being too David Lynch – who I love – for this specific film.  It will be on the DVD though.

There’s some philosophical talk about the movie Showgirls in the film… is that something you’d thought about much before writing the script?

Are you asking a gay man if he has thought philosophically about Showgirls? That would be a resounding yes!

You raised over $16,000 on Kickstarter to make Gayby. What advice or tips would you give filmmakers thinking of taking the Kickstarter route?

I think having short films to show people what the work is going to be like helps greatly. Also making a video with cats is borderline necessary. The internet loves a cat video. Procure some gorgeous cats – I happen to have some at home – and shoot.

What can we look forward to from you next?

I am in writing mode currently and hope to be shooting my next film by the summer. It will be another comedy. The world has enough drama all on its own without me adding to it.

Check out the trailer for Gayby below: