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Frameline Features Lewis’ Longhorns
by Roger Rose with Steven Trullo
In David Lewis' 'Longhorns,' Jacob Newton (lft) and Derek Villanueva, finally get it on, with fireworks results. photo: D. Lewis
David Lewis is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and book editor, as well as the San Francisco Chronicle's Projects Editor. His film career began in 2002 when he wrote and edited "Under One Roof." Since then, he has written and directed three features: "Rock Haven," "Redwoods" (winner of the prestigious Iris Prize in Wales), and his latest, "Longhorns," which just showed at the recent Frameline, San Francisco's lauded festival highlighting the LGBT community.
Lewis also wrote and produced the short "Can’t Buy Me Love," which won audience awards at multiple film festivals. His films have been distributed through TLA Releasing and have played at film festivals all over the world.
Cinesource had a chance to talk to David Lewis about his latest feature, "Longhorns," a film about a straight frat-boy who enjoys bonding with his fellow schoolmates. Longhorns screened at Frameline35 LGBT Film Festival on Saturday, June 25th at the Castro Theater.
How long did it take to film "Longhorns?" Were there any complications that took place during the making of the film?
"Longhorns" was shot in 11 days, and the biggest complication was time, or lack thereof. We (or should I say my wonderful art department) had to make the dorm sets from scratch, but it was worth it. They looked amazing. Then we had to move the entire production from the Bay Area to the Sierra foothills. All this in 11 days.
It seems that parts of "Longhorns" were filmed in Oakland? Which scenes were filmed there and why Oakland?
Yes, we filmed all the dorm scenes at an artists' studio in Fruitvale. We converted this empty basement studio into a dorm room and a dorm study room, making the walls, the ceiling, the whole nine yards. Everyone in Fruitvale was very nice to us. It was a wonderful experience.
Derek Villanueva is hot. How did you get him to be part of the film?
Derek is not only hot, but he is a wonderful, talented person and passionate about what he does. He loves the whole process of filmmaking and has boundless enthusiasm. He brightened up the set every day. We met at Frameline in 2010, where he was promoting his film "Little Love," and I was looking for a Cesar. Producer Lewis Tice and a few others on the festival circuit had recommended that I meet with him. In talking to him and watching him read, I knew instantly that he was the right person for the role, even if he wasn't sporting his '80s hairdo at the time. (laughter)
Derek Villanueva, who plays the lead Cesar, takes up art in 'Longhorns.' photo: D. Lewis
There's a lot of cock shots in "Longhorns." When casting for "Longhorns" did you want guys with hot cocks to act the film? Or did you just get lucky with the actors chosen for the film? Also, were any of the actors acting gay, straight (like, in real life)?
I just got lucky. These guys were cast because they were great actors who could inhabit these characters and make us care about these young men, even as they do all these crazy things. This story has a lot of heart, in addition to its humor, and much of that credit has to go to my fine cast. As for their sexuality in real life, it runs the gamut from gay to straight (and everything in-between).
You're a journalist for San Francisco Chronicle. How much did your journalistic practice inform the way you told the story, imagined a film?
My journalism training has taught me to get the point quickly and to keep things moving: Keep the viewer engaged. It has also helped me manage big projects -- and doing a film is a big project!
All kinds of Bay Area people helped make this film. How did you get them together?
Lots of liquor, of course! Seriously, though, this film got off the ground because I was lucky enough to get some of the best Bay Area talent available. In my wildest dreams, I would not have believed that all of them would become attached to this project. When you have geniuses like composer/editor/producer H.P. Mendoza, ace cinematographer (and Oakland resident) Frazer Bradshaw, and amazing producer Lewis Tice, it is hard to go wrong. I gave this trio a lot of latitude, and they have rewarded me (and the film goers) with unbelievable work.
Quick question: Favorite director(s)? And why?
So many. The first names that come to mind are Ang Lee, Woody Allen, Christopher Nolan, Steven Speilberg....I could go on and on.
What's your next film project?
It will be either another sex comedy (just as wild as "Longhorns," though a much different story) or a much more serious drama. The scripts are ready: It just depends on what can be funded first. Any investors out there? (laughter)
If you had to do 'Longhorns' again would you do anything differently?
I should have served Texas barbecue every night, but we had a lot of vegetarians (including me).
What do you think of the Bay Area film scene? Does the Bay Area even have one?
The Bay Area film scene, in my opinion, is loaded with talented filmmakers and crew members. It has a film festival scene that is second to none, and a documentary community that is second to none. As a narrative filmmaker, I have had a tougher time casting here, particularly for male roles. Women are easy to cast here. All the male actors seem to go to Los Angeles, where most of the work is. Am I missing something or not looking in the right places? [laughter]
But San Francisco is my home, and it has many beautiful places in which to film, and this is where I feel I belong, where I believe my voice is.
Posted on Jun 28, 2011 - 01:56 PM