Filmmaker takes on human cost of DOMA

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When director Glenn Gaylord was first approached to do the green card marriage drama “I Do,” bowing Monday at Out On Film with Gaylord in attendance, he was a bit apprehensive. But as he read the script, he realized the project was not what he envisioned.

In the new film, Jack (David Ross) is a gay British man living in New York, raising his young niece. To stay in the country, he convinces his lesbian best friend Ali (“The Sopranos” actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler) to marry him and pretend to be a couple. She does, but when Jack later meets sexy Spanish architect Mano (Maurice Compte) and falls for him, things get complicated, especially as Jack drifts away from Ali.

When Gaylord – who directed “Eating Out 3” and wrote last year’s “Leave It On the Floor” – heard about the movie, he wasn’t sure what to expect.

“I thought it would be a lame romantic comedy,” Gaylord admits. “I am allergic to a certain kind of film.”

Written by lead actor Ross, “I Do” was indeed a comedy initially, but as the screenwriter continued to work on it, he realized that the issues he was dealing with – immigration, the rights of LGBT people to get married and the lack of federal protections to keep binational couples together – weren’t a laughing matter.

As a result, Ross curbed the humor to focus on the situations faced by the characters, “yet it doesn’t read as an ‘issue movie’ at all,” Gaylord assures.

When Gaylord officially came aboard and sent out a casting call, he was pleasantly surprised that Sigler was receptive to the role of Ali. Their first meeting was via Skype and was supposed to last 15 minutes. It lasted 90. The actress makes it a point never to agree to a project on a first meeting, but she agreed to “I Do” after that one conversation.

Ross, who’s a member of the chart-topping British boy band Bad Boys and star of the gay-themed “Quinceañera,” wrote the film for himself. He had a bad break-up with someone who was not able to get all the paperwork needed to stay in the U.S., which inspired working on the movie.

For Gaylord, the issue hits home as well.

“One of the reasons I responded so well to the material is that I have a stepsister who is a lesbian who is dealing with these kind of things with her partner,” the director admits. “It has not been easy for the family.”

“I Do” screens Monday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. at Midtown Art Cinema as part of Out On Film. Gaylord will answer questions from the audience following the screening. View Monday’s full movie lineup beginning on page 33 of the complete Out On Film guide.

Columnist Jim Farmer is festival director for Out On Film


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