Op-ed: Long Night’s Journey
It’s 3 a.m. and I’m staring at the ceiling. Between the mystery noises coming from my 15-year-old dog and my boyfriend’s snoring plus the idea that I’m three weeks from shooting my first feature film, sleep is not happening.
I know my life is amazing. I’m an openly gay black man who has a career in Hollywood as a writer, actor, and now a director. I’m in a stable relationship with a man who supports and loves me, and I’m surrounded by friends. And I’m also about to direct a movie — a gay action-comedy-thriller called Hot Guys With Guns with a remarkable cast and an enviable crew — all of whom are working for basically peanuts and straw.
And I’m terrified I’m going to screw it all up.
Amber, my dog, is 15. Between bouts of arthritis, she seems to all the world like a puppy — a puppy with a bad hips, but still. I’m worried about her. Fifteen is old. I love her and I want her to stay with us forever, but come on, how much longer are we going to have this fuzzy face sneezing at us in the mornings? And I’m superstitious. Right before we started shooting Noah’s Arc, my dog Buff, who was a year younger than Amber, died. I don’t want to start another big success with a dog sacrifice.
John, my boyfriend, is the best. He rubs my back, cooks, drives a sports car, looks like a movie star, and has the coolest hair you’ve ever seen. Every day I work on staying adult, in communication, and present in this relationship, and I can be a self-centered son of a bitch, so this is work. This is the healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in. I know that because I have some really bad ones to compare it to. Ask my friends. They love John. When they first met him, two of my pals gave me the don’t-screw-this-up lecture only your besties can deliver.
And then there's the movie. I wrote Hot Guys With Guns a few years ago as a vehicle for myself. It sat in my laptop for a while, like everyone’s project in Hollywood, until the time was right, I guess. I realized last summer that I’d aged myself out of the part, and so I retooled it with a younger, and I must say, hotter actor, Marc Samuel, to play the role of Danny. He’s actually a lot better at it than I ever was. He’s playing opposite Brian McArdle, who I literally discovered working behind a bar at a restaurant. Brian and Marc have decided to come along with me on this low-paying adventure that is a tremendous time-suck and risky as hell. But, oh, my God, is it fun. And a lot of other people believe that too: the crew, the rest of the actors who are all friends of mine, everyone who is supporting this movie. Let’s face it: Gay movies are really thin on the ground these days, so making one is not for sissies. People try to talk you out of it all the time.
We crowdsourced a good portion of the funding, meaning people with no expectations other than to help us do this thing gave us money. Not invested, gave it to us — and that’s a huge amount of trust. We are going to make them a movie that they’ll never forget. And I have to keep it together, on track, running on Navy time. We roll cameras at the end of the month.
Screw it. I’ll sleep in December.
DOUG SPEARMAN is an actor, activist, writer, director, and amateur polo player. He'll try anything once. DougSpearman.com