Thursday, July 19, 2007

SHELTER - Los Angeles Premiere at the Ford

So, okay, Wednesday was the first night of the Ford Amphitheatre screenings (dubbed Outfest Under the Stars) and the LA premiere of the film I produced, SHELTER.

Let's see if I can piece together bits and pieces of the night for ya, since it was a total WHIRLWIND.

Most overheard comment before the show: "JD, my friend needs a ticket!" "JD, can I get on the list for the after party" "JD, can you get me a seat in the theatre?". Most overheard comment after the screening, "JD, can I be in your next movie?" and of course, "I cried!!!"

Here's a bit of what SHELTER looks like:

So the evening started out with a packed line of homosexuals crammed against the gates of the Ford at the foothills of the Hollywood Hills, clammering to get in. My friend Daniel commented, "What the hell is this, a Barbra Streisand concert?"

The show had been sold out for three weeks (1100 seats...I mean, my god!), and it was a feeding frenzy at the gates. People risked being stuck in stacked parking just to get stand by tickets!

Once in, everyone enjoyed a picnic. The lesbians at my table gasped, "My god, the gay men know how to picnic!" since they bring only the finest tableware, glassware, expensive wine and beautiful table spreads. Seriously, if you looked around the Ford, it seemed like Martha had been there.

Here is Brett Chuckerman and his producer Lisa from CURIOSITY OF CHANCE.

Brett asked me how I was doing, to which I replied, "I'm so nervous! I mean, it's like you're inviting all your friends to come see you naked on screen," To which he replied, "Oh, let me imagine what that's like!" I laughed out loud. Brett was the star of the film I produced last year, EATING OUT II and he was, um, er...naked in it!

We had so much fun working together, as he is not only handsome, talented and intelligent, but funny as hell. Fans can see alumni of EATING OUT II this year in: Phillip J Bartell is the editor of this year's SAVE ME; Allan Brocka has RICK AND STEVE, Rebekah Kochan has LEZ BE FRIENDS, Brett in CURIOSITY OF CHANCE and of course, moi with SHELTER. Oh and the emotional and stirring gong show entry WHILE YOU WERE SPEAKING (check Friday's post).

This is Ryan Graeff, who did all the art for SHELTER.

Here's a sample:

Then we all pilled into the theatre. I tried to get the ten lesbians that showed up to all sit together. Here's a sampling of the inside of the theatre pre show:

THis is Jack, the Theatre Manager

Jack runs the Ford theatre and has been doing it for YEARS! We had so much fun working at OUTFEST together back when I was Festival Manager, so it was wonderful to be there as a film maker and see him and get a big ole hug.

This is my good friend Jessica with my new friend LK (who does the YPC for the LGBT Center, amongst other things. You know me, I always have to mention everyone's non profit advocacy credits) and Jessica Graham who was just OUTSTANDING in 2 Minutes Later.

After the film, Jessica paid it the most wonderful compliment by saying, "It was the most tender, accurate depiction of that feeling you get when you just fall in love! I wanted to go out immediately and fall in love!" So all you ladies might want to take her up on that at the Friday showing of her film, 2 MINUTES LATER at the Barnsdall Theatre.

Adore these two "studio execs". I'm sure you can tell how crazy I am in these blogs, can you imagine working with me!? Well, these two men did, and my god how they helped put SHELTER together. Thanks Billy and Rich!

Billy told me he hated the picture I took of him, so I have replaced him here with his myspace photo.

My friend Craig Jordan volunteered to sit in the lesbian section and be one of the girls. Here he is with D Biddle and Martini Cindy.

Our star, the brilliant Trevor Wright and his family!

So then it was that time where we introduce the film. Our fearless leader - the CEO and Founder of here! networks....the man who PAID for all us crazy kids to go out and put this film together.... or as I like to call him, "Daddy".... Mr Paul Colichman.

Then the writer/director Jonah Markowitz took the stage.

He had so much wine at the pre party, he forgot it was his film and thought he was at the Dreamgirls sing along and immediately broke out into AND I"M TELLING YOU. It was quite embarrassing, and Kirsten Schaefer the Director of Programming had to go out and correct him.

I'm kidding. Jonah doesn't even like show tunes. I know, can you imagine, 16 days on the set together and he didn't get any of my musical theatre jokes.
He didn't even get what I thought was a brilliant joke, when we were shooting at the gorgeous Malibu mansion - We were overwrought by problems so I gestured to the ocean and proclaimed dramatically, "I'm going to pull a James Mason right now!" All I got was crickets. Tumbleweeds. Whatever, he's happy with me as long as the equipment showed up and the crew was paid!

The screening went beautifully. The fun thing about the Ford is everyone can bring their WINE IN!! So the picnic continued under the stars as our little film screened on that HUGE screen whilst all the 'mo's and friends of 'mo's settled in to watch the film that I and a bunch of really hard working, talented artists and film makers poured our HEARTS into for the past 8 months.

So for those of you that don't know what SHELTER is about, the story revolves around a lovable pound dog from South Central (brought to life with incredible vulnerability and depth by Charlie Disalvatore) and some gay surfers. (Charlie is pictured here with Brad Rowe, another star of the film)

And then, you know, there are some gay surf boys that fall in love and stuff like that.

Everyone gasped when a shot of this guy came on, so here's a photo for you boys to download (care of our set photographer, Evans Ward)

Yes, we got our extras at the Janice Dickenson agency!

I guess this is where I have to reveal my feelings on the whole night since I'm the producer and all and blah blah blah. I will tell you, it was an absolutely overwhelming experience to know that Academy Award winning Producers Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks were there. Along with the producer of DREAMGIRLS, Laurence Marc. And my other industry heroes, like Ms Judith Light. These are people I really look up to not only for their talent, but their altruistic endevours.

I cut a tribute video together for Judith LIght a few years back for one of the many awards she received for her tireless contributions to AIDS awareness. So when we saw each other, I said, "Hey, I'm glad you're going to see another one of my movies!"

So, for me the real treat of the night was when Bruce came up to me after the end of the film, hugged me and said, "This is a really important film and it needs wide distribution! I cried, JD. I mean, wept. Tears streaming down my face!"

Jaw drop. Blush. Then... wait, is it the right arm or the left arm I have to worry about in heart attacks!

More importantly, the lesbians loved the film too! Here are some film makers giving us the thumbs up as the film ended.

Jonah could be found after our screening at the lower level of the Ford eating cake.

So then we all drove down the hill and went to the after party at the Cabana Club, which was hosted by FLAUNT magazine.

Brad hung out with Outfest's Jeff Mack and another director he's worked with, Tommy O Haver (BILLY'S HOLLYWOOD SCREEN KISS)

Two more of my favorite here! fellas, Dan Gelfand and Ross von Metzke

Our tireless Associate Producer Chris Panizzon with his mom and aunt.

Trevor with Jonah.

The following photos are courtesy of Tony DiMaio. To see more of his shots, go to

Speaking of our set and publicity photographer, here is Evans Ward with Darryl Stephens and Wilson Cruz, two wonderful out actors.

The whole night I didn't run into what has to be my FAVORITE here! studio exec, and my partner in crime on set, Matt Freeman. So I'll include a photo here of us on set.

I know it looks like we're having fun, but we're actually working. Matt was absolutely key in helping this film get made, and was so important to me as a producer - and not just because he pulled my head out of the oven and threw away the suicide note (I mean, people, we shot this in 16 days, with twenty locations, a kid, surfing and two dogs!!!) but for his talents and creative contributions.

He also found for us the extremely talented songwriter Shane Mack, and "yes" to all you that asked... the music will be available via here! tunes.

Here I am working with another here! exec.

I stand firm in saying that the rumours that I am difficult to work with are completely unfounded.

Okay, kids, I have so many more photos and so much more to dish about, but I have to dash for now because I volunteered to do a PETA video today. Yes, I know, such a dyke. I'm exhausted but it's a naked super model, so I'm sure I'll stay awake.

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