[Editor's note: Out Twin Cities Film Fest is hitting the Theatres at Mall of America next week with special screenings and events showcasing LGBTQ-themed cinema. Leading up to the festivities, we'll be highlighting a few of the participating filmmakers.]
JC Calciano's films are chock-full of your standard rom-com drama: Boy finds himself newly single and heartbroken, or in some sort of a mild mid-life crisis after seeking completely unqualified advice from friends. This leads to utter chaos and confusion, but our hero somehow manages to find love and acceptance, and ultimately comes out a winner.
Regardless of how predictable this may be, Calciano's films are completely necessary. Every year, Hollywood green-lights a handful of blockbuster love stories about heterosexual couples. Sometimes, there's a funny gay sidekick playing second fiddle to the leading lady, but that's about it for an LGBTQ presence. So where are our gay and lesbian rom-com stars? We need homo hunks and sexy lesbians to root for, too, and Calciano is just the man to fill the void in our lovelorn hearts.
With the OUT Twin Cities Film Festival right around the corner, we caught up with the 50-year-old filmmaker and teacher to talk about all the crazy things people do for love, the consistent stream of hot men involved in his films, and, of course, his latest rom-com, The 10 Year Plan, a film where two friends make a pact to end up together should they fail to find love before the end of a decade.
City Pages: When did you know that you wanted to work in the film industry? How did you get your start?
JC Calciano: When I was a kid in the 1970s, VHS/Beta home video cameras came out on the consumer market. My dad bought one for the family, and we made silly videos with the neighbors and ourselves. It was so much fun and brought everyone so much joy that I never wanted it to end. That's why I still keep doing it.
What was your first major project?
I started out making music videos [in the early days of MTV] and movie production work. But my first major project was the first Mission: Impossible film when I was at Paramount Studios.
How do you come up with ideas for your films? And specifically The 10 Year Plan?
I basically start by looking at my own life and the things I find interesting about people in general. That's the jumping-off point. Then I ask myself, "What if?," and see where it leads the story. The 10 Year Plan is inspired by two of my best friends. They made the same deal when they were younger. After 10 years passed, they both secretly said to me, "How can I get out of the 10-year plan I made without hurting his feelings?" It was a great premise for a romantic comedy.
Have you ever made a love pact?
I apparently made one with my cousin Debbie. When she saw the film she asked, "Was this inspired by our plan?!" I forgot I had made one with her when we were teens, but apparently I did. As you could guess, the one with my cousin didn't work out as we had planned.
Is it a requirement for the men in your film to be ridiculously good-looking? Or is that just coincidence?
It's sort of a coincidence. I really just set out to hire the best actors I could find. I've been fortunate to find some wonderfully talented guys, who are certainly good-looking, but they are also great actors and, most importantly, good people.
They say a man and woman can't just be best friends without someone wanting more; do you think the same can be said about two gay men? Why or why not?
I think gay men can definitely be just friends without wanting more. But love is a mystery and I still haven't figured it out yet. Maybe that's why I keep making movies about it!
I know they are extremes, but are you more of a Brody or a Myles?
I'm actually Richard. He's the character most like me: oblivious, dependable, and always willing to help and support his friends. I also share a lot of qualities with Myles: monogamous-minded and a homebody.
Do you believe in the theory of "the one that got away?"
No. I think that we romanticize our past. If it didn't work out, it probably was for a good reason and we just forgot why. I have a friend who is always digging up past boyfriends wondering if he let the perfect guy slip out of his life. He goes on one date with him again and always says, "Now I remember why I stopped dating him."
What's next for you?
As always, more Steam Room Stories. I love doing those silly webisodes, so I'm making more of them soon. I'm currently writing my next script. Yes, it's another gay romantic comedy. I'm also in the process of preparing The 10 Year Plan for worldwide release, and putting together a special boxed set of all of my films, Is It Just Me?, eCUPID, and The Ten Year Plan.
Why do you think LGBTQ film festivals are so important?
Festivals are an amazing place to learn about the craft of filmmaking through filmmaker Q&A's. You get to meet your favorite directors and stars, and see wonderful films about our lives, culture, and community. I can't think of anything more awesome than that.IF YOU GO:
OUT Twin Cities Film Fest
Theatres at Mall of America
For tickets and info, visit www.otcff.org
$10 for single screenings; $200 for all-access pass
Wednesday, June 4, through Sunday, June 8