By Hans Pedersen, January 2017 Issue.
If you’re looking to don some gay apparel this holiday, you may remember our joyful list of holiday films with LGBTQ themes, including Rent, The Family Stone and Tales of the City (well it’s a mini-series, but who doesn’t love it?).
Just as Santa is always updating his naughty-or-nice list, Echo is freshening up its own holiday movie list with the addition of Shared Rooms.
The newest seasonal film, written and directed by Rob Williams (Make the Yuletide Gay) and released by Wolfe Video released last month, features three intertwining storylines that play out during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
Echo recently caught up with Williams to find out more about his new movie and his hopes of bringing upbeat messages to LGBTQ audiences this holiday season.
Echo: Up until a decade ago, there were hardly any LGBTQ-themed Christmas movies. Are you proud to have changed that, first with Make the Yuletide Gay and now with Shared Rooms?
Williams: Absolutely. I am a big fan of Christmas movies period. I definitely felt like when I started making films about a decade ago … I don’t think there were any Christmas gay-themed films. So that’s what we set out specifically to do … We got such a wonderful response [with Make the Yuletide Gay] … people love bringing it out and watching it for the holidays. So it was natural to think, “Hey, let’s try that again.” [We] did it with Shared Rooms and we’re hoping people love it just as much. I’m hoping people have double features at their homes.
Echo: One of the movie’s opening lines, which I liked, was the line “December 24th is when friends become family.” Could you talk about that a little bit?
Williams: That was really the main theme … how these storylines intertwine and how they’re related. I realized it was all about family – whether it’s finding true love, your husband or boyfriend, finding your biological family or finding your friends. I think it is true for so many people in the LGBT[Q] community that their friends are their family… you embrace your friends, I think, in a way that is very unique to our community during the holidays.
And that is what we wanted it to be about, that search for family, and this coming together of this group of men to create a family. I feel that’s so important … I think now more than ever we need to rely on each other for this family, because we’re not going to get it a lot of other places.
Echo: Your film does have a reference to Trump, so it’s topical. Any advice to LGBTQ community for surviving or thriving in President Trump’s world?
Williams: I think we all have to band together and realize we have to stand steady. We have to be stronger together. We have to realize a lot of people in this last election did not really see the big picture. I think they’re realizing the big picture now, as already people are talking about taking away the rights of our community. So I think that is going to bring us all together. We’ll have to fight more than ever and really stand up and be counted, and say, “No, you cannot do this to us, you cannot take away our marriage rights,” and really fight for it …
We started making films 10 years ago because there was so much negativity in the world, but also negativity in gay films. I think it’s so important to put out positive messages through the media, and to say, like in Shared Rooms, it is possible to find true love. It is possible to find family that loves you and supports you, and it is possible to have a happy ending in your life.
I’m not saying our films are important in that sense, but I do think that art is important in showing people what is possible. And I think now, more than ever, it is going to be important for us to show positive images, and put out positive messages about the community and to the community about what we can do and what we can accomplish. Even if it’s just telling someone, if your parents kick you out of your home for being gay, there is a community that will love and support you … I know movies can do that, because people tell me our films have done that for them.
Echo: Your movie certainly does have a lot of positive messages and it’s entertaining, especially the storyline between the guy with a secret crush on his roommate. Was there anything that inspired the storyline between the two roommates?
Williams: Only that my husband and I have rented out a place and it’s always been fascinating, the people you meet … I wasn’t sure where I was going at first, you know, is the renter the storyline? Because we’ve met a lot of wonderful people that way … It’s kind of the ultimate wish fulfillment for so many people who’ve had crushes on roommates in college, so everyone can relate to that.
Echo: Then there’s the wonderful storyline with Cal and Laslo – not expecting to be parents and then they’re thrust into a parenting situation, which is well done.
Williams: Thank you. Yes, Alec Wilson and Christopher Pearson, the two actors who play Cal and Laslo were amazing and they didn’t even meet until we had a read-through and they just clicked immediately. They were so in sync that I thought they had been together for a decade or more because they just had such amazing chemistry…. It was so much fun to shoot. I think you can put positive messages out there that are saying something, but in an entertaining way.