by MK Scott -
SGN Contributing Writer
From Rob Williams, the man who wrote and directed the 2009 holiday classic, Make the Yuletide Gay, comes the terrific Shared Rooms, now available on DVD and VOD. This new romantic comedy brings together three interrelated tales of Gay men seeking family, love and sex during the holiday season.
Married couple Laslo and Cal unexpectedly take in a Gay teen relative who's been kicked out of his home; Sid and Gray have a casual online hookup which unexpectedly deepens; and roommates Julian and Dylan confront their secret mutual attraction when forced to share a bed for a week. At a New Year's Eve party, these stories come together in a heartwarming and joyous ending.
Accomplished filmmakers Rob Williams and his partner Rodney Johnson (makers of the Gay holiday hit Make The Yuletide Gay) have created another crowd pleasing Gay holiday comedy, starring a sexy ensemble cast, set in the hip Los Angeles enclave of Silverlake. This is their eighth feature film.
I have seen about five of Williams' films and know him as a great writer and I couldn't wait to chat with one of my fave directors by phone.
MK Scott: Rob, I have loved every film of yours - especially Role/Play, Men Next Door, and Make the Yuletide Gay. Now that you have come up with another holiday film called Shared Rooms, about three very different couples, how did you come up with the story?
Rob Williams: Well, I actually had started writing a script about one of the couples, the couple who take in one of their nephews who was kicked out of his home for being Gay. So I started a script about that story line. And I wasn't quite sure where I was going with it and, you know, as a writer you're always working on different things. At the same time I had started a script on a story line about a juvenile arriving on a Gay couple's doorstep and suddenly it just kind of hit me - I think I was probably watching Love Actually when I - one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time - and I thought - hey, why don't I merge these two and kind of create a sort of a Gay tribute to Love Actually. Different storylines going on during the holidays and you know where everyone has their happy ending at the end
MK: I loved how all the couples were intertwined.
RW: Yeah, it - that was - that was the fun part of writing it, was kind of figuring out how the couples in the story lines touched and how their triangles - and finding out at the end how they were all really intertwined. That was a lot of fun as a writer, trying to kind of come up with those ideas. And see, once I had the individual storylines, I could create how do their lives touch? And that it was fun. You know, I found out when I was going to film festivals that people were sometimes surprised and sometimes very happy about the way their lives were intertwined.
MK: So, what basically caused you to go from one couple to another couple and then another couple - and then eventually, okay, one character is reaching out to another character - and then eventually, towards the end, it was like everybody was all connected.
RW: Yeah, and everyone showed up at the big New Year's Eve party and, you know, it was - that was really fun to film because the three story lines were all very separate and we filmed them separately. And then there's only one day where everyone's all together. And so everyone was kind of like having so much fun interacting with all of the cast - not just their particular story lines.
MK: Excellent! You added a lot of subplots from Zeke's story, as well as the big stunner at the end - well, I won't go into details - but you know the sudden sibling.
RW: Yeah, well, we wanted a lot of things going on and, well, especially Zeke's storyline and the other one. It's all about family. And that was the goal of the movie. Let's just have - sort of put them together - put the storylines together and see how they intertwine - like - okay, this movie is all about family and finding your family, literally or figuratively. You know, finding the family that you want for your life - whether they're biological or not. And, you know, I think those story lines are what will kind of hit that. That's the charm for me, writing it and creating it. And, you know, that's what people respond to, is that topography about love and family and the message out there about trying to create your own family, if perhaps your biological family isn't there for you. And sometimes they are there for you - so you know it was very important for us to put a very positive message out there about love and about family.
MK: Oh, and I absolutely love the Gray and Sid story and - especially the fact that they were never clothed, which I tend to see in a lot of your movies - I love the full frontal, which is fabulous, of course.
RW: That was fun because it was - it was like kind of a thing and I was like, you know what? Let's make them nudists. So, you know, they are naked - and, you know, as a filmmaker who - we were filming with them and they were naked the entire time. So, you know, my job was really tough, but you know it was - that was the - it was fun, because it was the best version of them being naked, while they're actually having these deep conversations. They're talking about religion and they're talking about art and they're talking about books and other things were somewhat part of the storyline, everybody is a little lighter. So it was kind of fun to kind of, you know, strip them bare and then have them have these very deep conversations.
MK: And then, of course, I also loved the Dylan and Julian story of, you know, roommates and then suddenly having to share a bed. And then you find out much more about them, which is fabulous.
RW: Yeah. It was - that was kind of fun. That's - you know, I think that's just what the standard sort of wish fulfillment of a lot of people who have a crush on a roommate at some point and it's like - oh, now I gotta share a bed with this man who's been renting out your room. Very standard kind of romantic comedy set up, and those actors just kind of had a lot of fun with it. Robert Warner played Dylan - had crazy expressions and was just so much fun to edit because you know he was so expressive.
MK: And then we've mentioned the Laslo and Cal story and having to take in a seventeen old Zeke, who is Cal's nephew and so that was really cool as well. My only gripe in the entire film is the fact it was just so short. It was just too short - you know seventy-five minutes. You know it could have been way more.
RW: And the thing is - well, it could have been - the thing is we were - it was a hundred page script and when we were shooting this, the actors started with such an amazing rhythm that it ended up being shorter - even though it was a hundred pages. Cal and Laslo especially - those actors - from the moment they met at the table read. They didn't even meet during auditions. They met at the table read we had. And they were just like BOOM instant chemistry, bouncing off of each other and, you know, then - so that kind of like sped things up just because that's the rhythm they fell into - and then when we were shooting, our DP, Mike, who's amazing, let me do a lot of amazing steadicam with them, and that, you know - I just did a lot of things in one long take or just let things kind of shorten the movie, um - not while losing our attention. It's just that visually it's great - a great lovable short work, and yeah, it's like, if I had known, we would have shot more. But you know maybe -
MK: Well, yeah, that's my next question: about a potential sequel.
RW: You know, I - I would love to do it, mainly because this was the single most fun shoot I've had of all my films, the actors were amazing, we shot in our house and in two of our neighbors' houses. We literally shot everything in one streak in Los Angeles. And I would love - there's so much more to tell - literally every screening we've had, people have asked about if we're gonna do more, or, so this would make a great TV series, it's like a Gay 'Modern Family.' It's like, thank you so much. Like why don't you make this a series? And it's like, well, I don't have the control over that. You'll have to talk to someone at ABC.
MK: What is next for you?
RW: Hopefully, it's a romantic drama called Happiness Adjacent. And we are looking to shoot that in early 2017 and then, hopefully, it'll be out later in 2017.
MK: Here's my burning question: In 2014 you did a crowdfunding campaign for the sequel to Make the Yuletide Gay. What is happening with that? Is that still gonna happen or is it dead?
RW: Well, it's not. And this was the reason - that so many people said we want to see this - and the problem was that because that movie was our most expensive movie to make, you know, we had a lot of bigger names in that. And to do the sequel, you know, you kind of have to go bigger. And, you know, we went to our fans and we said listen, we're gonna do a final run at this with a crowdfunding campaign, and we didn't reach our goal. And so we had like - it's unfortunate, because a lot of other films get a lot of money, and, you know, it's just for whatever reason, that people will give to some, and that's fine.
Shared Rooms is available now via Wolfe Video, in the U.S. and Canada on DVD and worldwide on VOD: across all digital platforms including iTunes, Vimeo On Demand, and WolfeOnDemand.com, and also the U.S. and Canada on DVD via Wolfe Video and many major retailers.
Hear this interview and more at itsfab.podomatic.com. MK Scott is a Seattle-based blogger. Check out his site at outviewoline.com.
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