Getting romantic with gay film auteur JC Calciano
Filmmaker JC Calciano is an old-fashioned romantic, a sharp businessman, and a film visionary who makes fun romantic comedies on a low budget for gay audiences. In just two years, JC has shown his two hits, IS IT JUST ME? (2010) and eCUPID (2011), at over 100 LGBT film festivals, and he’s the director, producer, and writer of the popular web series, “Steam Room Stories.” JC stopped by Film Fresh this week to talk about his films.
IS IT JUST ME? (2010) is a sweet love story inspired by Hollywood romantic comedies. "I wanted to write a Jennifer Aniston movie but for guys," JC told NBC Los Angeles. "I like gay films, and I love romantic comedies," he explained, "I wanted to make a film that reflected my community in a positive way. My goal was to make a film we can show our family and friends and say, 'Look, this is how we are, this is how we live, and this is how we love'."
With the tremendous success of that first film -- it won the Rainbow Award at the Honolulu Film Festival and Best Picture at the Detroit Film Festival -- JC was quick to come out with his second feature, eCUPID, another love story about a gay couple with the seven-year-itch that is fueled by an app called “eCupid.”
eCUPID is “inspired by the classic Frank Capra film IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946),” JC told us, in which a ghost named Clarence comes into a young man’s life (Jimmie Stewart) and helps him realize how much he has to gain from love. In Calciano’s film, the instigator is an internet app called “eCupid” who helps a bored boyfriend (Houston Rhines) leave his significant other behind and hook up with dream dates, only to realize through the experience -- and the wisdom of his waitress (Morgan Fairchild) -- what is truly important to him.
JC built his own free “eCupid” app to help promote the film, a kind of fantasy version of a dating app. In his version, Morgan Fairchild tells you if you've found true love.
With this second film, JC wanted to direct with a “studio sensibility,” bringing higher production values to the sentiment that made his first film so popular. IS IT JUST ME? was made for just $40,000, shot in only 12 days in JC’s West Hollywood apartment and neighborhood, where he also makes his highly popular “Steam Room Stories,” which have had over 7.5 million views. Indie filmmakers can learn a lot from JC’s understanding of his audience, the festival circuit, and the Internet. “LGBT film festivals are the most important places that our community finds new films -- we don’t rely on mainstream rating services or media for film discovery.” Calciano’s goal is to keep providing new work for the festivals and Internet-based audiences.
JC is especially interested in what an independently operated site like Film Fresh offers to the LGBT community. He told us: “Film Fresh has a nice variety of GLBT films … some wonderful favorites of mine as well as some ‘must see’ films that are on my cue. Here's a list of films I really enjoy and/or am planning on seeing.”
- STRAPPED (2010) – A young hustler meets a tender client then gets lost in his maze-like apartment complex, meeting a range of characters and facing his own emotions in this drama.
- REDWOODS (2009) – When gay partners have stayed together only for the sake of their son, it’s a welcome change to discover new love when a stranger comes to the Guerneville countryside.
- HOLLYWOOD JE T’AIME (2009) – a heartbroken gay Parisian comes to Los Angeles on vacation to forget the past and look forward to the future, with the help of a sex worker, a drag queen, and pot supplier.
- LATTER DAYS (2003) – A Mormon missionary going door-to-door in Los Angeles meets a West Hollywood party boy going from man-to-man in this romantic comedy. Mitt Romney would rather raise taxes than see this film!
- MAKE THE YULETIDE GAY (2009) – Christmas is when gay college students go home to the closet, that is, unless it’s a comedy film in which a boyfriend follows his guy to the Midwest. This film is funny even when it’s not Christmas.
- THE TRIP (2002) – This classic romantic comedy begins in 1973 when a gay activist meets a closeted Republican and they’re on-again off-again throughout the gay civil rights 1980s when a road trip brings them back together.
JC started in the industry after graduating from NYU film school and becoming an Associate Producer on MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, and Head of Production for Tom Cruise’s Cruise/Wagner Productions at Paramount Pictures, then moved on to produce indie films and reality TV series, here in the U.S. and in Dubai, before creating his two feature films and web series.