Todd Verow's delightful Deleted Scenes
 

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posted Friday, November 5, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 45

Todd Verow's delightful Deleted Scenes
by Gary M. Kramer - SGN Contributing Writer

Deleted Scenes, now out on DVD, is the latest compelling and explicit romance from Queer writer/director Todd Verow. The film chronicles the relationship between Wolf (Ivica Kovacevic) and Sean (Michael Vaccaro) through 20 episodes. These scenes that were 'deleted' - a title card informs viewers - 'because of length, denial, melodrama, believability, dubbing and sexual content.'

Sitting in a café in New York City, the buff, 40-something Verow explained why he chose these criteria for his Deleted Scenes. 'I was thinking in terms of my own films - reasons why I cut things out. A lot of times, I'll have really long sex scenes that I've cut down. For this, I wanted to just keep them long, so your mind sort of wanders. I've always have a lot of technical problems because I'm not anti-technical perfection, so I amped that up even more.'

Verow's manipulation of time and narrative pulls the viewers in and forces them to think about the characters and their relationship in unexpected ways. By showing the 'deleted' moments, audiences are prompted to fill in the blanks and/or consider their own relationships. There are also numerous deliberate continuity errors that Verow includes to keep the viewer off guard, and paying attention to the story.

The soft-spoken filmmaker asserts, 'What frustrates me about movies these days is the obsessions with continuity, and believability and being able to identify with a character, and character arc, and a three-act structure. So these were things I wanted to attack.'

In Deleted Scenes, Verow is successful in breaking down narrative elements. While the central romance between Wolf and Sean is interesting, a subplot featuring Fast Eddy (the adorable Brad Hallowell, who starred in Vacationland for Verow in 2006) proves far more dramatic.

The writer/director acknowledges that Fast Eddy is an appealing rogue who will seduce viewers. Verow admits, 'There has always been a character [in each of my films] that's fascinating to me, that I want to see more of,' before demurring, 'Eventually, I'll get around to making a whole movie about them.'

Like all of his films, there are autobiographic elements, and Deleted Scenes was based on personal moments stemming from one of Verow's past relationships. Another theme that resurfaces throughout the filmmaker's work is that of a character who 'disappears.'

'I am always interested in people who fall through the cracks,' he confesses, 'People who have potential and are just forgotten. Too often, the people who aren't interesting are the ones that survive. I wanted to give a voice to those who are lost. Growing up in the 1980s, lots of people who died [from AIDS] were forgotten, and that's something that haunts people my age, and it's terrifying that younger people don't sort of get that.'

The mention of AIDS prompts a question about a scene in the film between Wolf and Sean in which a character's HIV status is disclosed. Verow shrewdly leaves the answer unclear, expecting the viewer to decide what the truth could be.

Verow's also uses the film to explore the morality of another recurring feature in his work, that of a hustler. The filmmaker pauses, before responding thoughtfully to why he favors sex-for-money scenarios, 'I think in films, traditionally, [prostitution] is treated as punishable and also in society - it's a victimless crime, but it gets a bad rap. It's demonized and criminalized and at the same time, glamorized. The truth is right down the middle. It is just a job, but it's a job where you are constantly bombarded by the criminalization and the glamorization. So, if you are in that profession, you are sort of caught in the middle.'

Verow speaks from experience, having worked in the trade in the past. Ironically, where he once played the hustler in his film, he now plays the john.

'I'm too old,' he deadpans when asked about this role reversal. 'I am sort of the john - the one who hires these people, and to a certain extent exploits them by filming them. For this movie, I did have an actor to play the [role I took], and he did not show up, so I was forced into it. Which was a happy accident, because it tied the two stories together. My character's scene with [Fast Eddy] was not originally the same person, but when the actor didn't show up, I had to rethink that, and it actually made it better.'

It's amusing to think that Verow may have been deleted from his own film. But this is what Deleted Scenes is all about; it allows viewers to imagine their own versions of what happens with the characters. It is also what makes this film so engaging.

© 2010 Gary M. Kramer



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