Director JC Calciano knows a thing or two about gay romantic comedies. Last year’s “Is It Just Me?” was a festival fave, and this year’s “eCupid,” something of a gay “The Seven Year Itch,” screens Friday at Out On Film.
The comedy stars newcomer Houston Rhines as Marshall (top photo, right), an ad executive about to turn – ahem - 30. He hates his job, and he wonders if his seven-year relationship with Gabe (Noah Schuffman, left) is still exciting. One night while he is by himself in the living room, Marshall starts to play around on his laptop and downloads a relationship app – eCupid.
Said app, however, has something of a mind of its own. Before long, Marshall has a horny frat boy at his door and all sorts of romantic requests (middle photo).
“I think at some point many of us ask the question of ‘Are we in the right relationship?’” the director says, noting that he relates to moments when he and his own partner are on the sofa with their IPAds and IPhones, distant from each other.
In his era, Calciano says, there weren’t that many options for finding love.
“We were limited to parties and bars and friends of friends,” he says. “We were also limited within a 10-mile radius. You also had to be in the same bar at the same time. These days, there are unlimited resources to match people up to unlimited guys. You can get on the Internet and find everything you wanted to know about someone – all their information.”
Newcomer Rhines came in to audition for “Is It Just Me?” and didn’t get the role he was after, but a year and half later, Calciano envisioned him for this film. Calciano says the chemistry (bottom photo) between Rhines and co-star Schuffman (who appears at Friday’s Out on Film screening) was palpable.
Morgan Fairchild has an extended cameo in the film as a waitress who proves instrumental in helping Marshall with his woes. Calciano says she brings a lot of earthiness to the role, something he really needed.
“I wanted to cast an iconic actress who would be a Venus-esque character,” he says. “We put an offer out to Morgan and hoped she was available, and she was. She is a big supporter of the community. She thought this was a good message, a positive one, so she accepted.”
Fairchild was not only generous with her time but with the actors, and her stories delighted the cast and crew, Calciano says.
“Being around her and hearing her stories is amazing,” he says. “If you are ever lucky enough to have a beer with her, it will be a great night.
The film is not meant to be a message movie, but Calciano hopes audiences can take something away.
“It does deal with servicing your relationship,” he says. “Being present and giving to your partner first and receiving second – that is so important.”
Five films screen at Out On Film on Friday at Midtown Art Cinema, including “eCupid” at 7:30 p.m. Noah Schuffman from the film conducts a Q&A after the screening. View Friday’s full schedule that also includes “Cho Dependent,” as well as the daily festival schedule through Oct. 7.
Jim Farmer is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and public relations professional specializing in film promotions. He has been a theater and pop-culture critic for more than a dozen years and is the director of Atlanta’s annual Out On Film gay and lesbian film festival.