By Dan Avery
Originally published on Advocate.com January 30 2009 12:00 AM ET
The accent might
betray his Swedish origins, but queer filmmaker Casper
Andreas is New York City through and through: With a body a
Chelsea boy would envy, a do-it-yourself work ethic
right out of Brooklyn, and a teensy-but-adorable
railroad apartment you could only find in the East
Village, the 36-year-old director has spent more than a
decade in the city, making movies that explore what
it’s like to fall in (and out of) love in the
Big Apple. His first releases, 2004’s Slutty
Summer and 2007’s A Four Letter Word,
found ample humor in the kind of romantic
misadventures gay Manhattanites often fall prey to --
though admittedly, most of us don’t end up dating
pathological liars who hustle on the down low, as
Jesse Archer’s Luke did in AFour Letter Word.
latest cinematic effort, Between Love and
Goodbye, strikes a darker chord: After falling hard for
each other, young lovers Marcel and Kyle move in
together -- and that’s when the problems start.
First Marcel, who is French, must marry their lesbian
neighbor Sarah to stay in the country. Then Kyle’s
troubled transsexual sister April moves in, demanding
constant attention and poisoning him against Marcel.
As jealousy and anger threaten their bond, it’s hard
to tell if the couple will pull back from the brink or
if it’s time to say goodbye.
Even though the
film deals with heartbreak, making Between Love and
Goodbye was a labor of love for Andreas: He not
only wrote, directed, and produced the film, he is
distributing it himself through his company, Embrem
Entertainment. Shortly before the movie’s
January 30 premiere in New York (a Los
Angeles release is set for March 6), Andreas spoke with
Advocate.com about the film’s evolution,
whether he’s a believer in true love, and how
far some New Yorkers will go to keep a decent apartment.
Advocate.com:Between Love and Goodbyeis much more serious than your previous work. Is
this an attempt to branch out into new territory?Casper Andreas: It’s actually the first
script I worked on -- I wrote it almost 10 years ago. It was
inspired by my first big love affair, which ended with
a bad breakup. A lot of the story is made up
obviously, but all my films are inspired by my life
being a gay man living in New York, especially this one.
When I wrote it I thought I would play the Marcel
character. I sent it out to a few places but
didn’t get much response, so I put it aside and ended
up doing Slutty Summer first.
Is that because gay comedies are more marketable? That was certainly part of it. I thought, How
can I make an inexpensive film that will be
successful and lead to other projects?
Certainly being funny and having young hot boys made it
accessible. I wanted to make [Goodbye] my
second film, actually, but having done one romantic
sex comedy, it was so much easier to go ahead and make
another. And Jesse Archer, who costarred in Slutty
Summer, cowrote A Four Letter Word with me.
A lot of it was Jesse pushing me [laughs] -- he
really wanted to get that film made. This one is my
“European” movie -- my art film. It’s
more like the kinds of movies I watch myself.
Was it easier working on Love and Goodbye with
some distance? After 10 years you must’ve
felt less upset about the failed relationship that
inspired it.It’s hard to say. But I think
I’ve learned a lot about being a filmmaker in
the past 10 years and I was able to do things with
this movie I wouldn’t have been able to back then.
I’m happy I waited.
The characters are really unique: You’ve got
Marcel, a foreigner who is reserved but passionately
devoted to love, and Kyle, who is a beautiful free
spirit and sings in a rock band. Was it hard
casting for the film? It was the hardest film to cast because the
characters were so specific. We didn’t cast
Kyle, Simon Miller, until the very end. We saw a lot of
people for that role over the summer of 2007. Finally Simon
came in and he seemed so perfect. We took a bit of a
chance because we were up against the wire, but he was
right for the character. And he does his own singing
in the film, which wasn’t a requirement but really
The music is incredible. I was singing the theme
song in the shower today. The songs were definitely intended to help tell
the story. I had some friends who were in a band years
ago and they let me have access to some of their
music. A few other tracks were actually big pop hits in
Sweden in the '80s, like “What’s the
Colour of Love,” which was originally done by
these sisters, Lili & Susie. Adam Joseph, who produced
and did all the studio recordings with the band, was
Is Justin Tensen, who plays Marcel, French? The
accent is really believable. Well, that’s an interesting story. As an
actor I’d been discriminated against for being
a foreigner. So I really wanted to not cast an American
as Marcel. I guess originally I thought he’d be a
Swede, since I was planning on playing the role. We
read a lot of actors for Marcel and Justin did an
amazing job. He was the first person we cast. But
he’s not French -- he’s Canadian.
Although it’s certainly not hard-core,
there’s a fair amount of nudity and sex in
the movie. Both Simon and Justin are certainly
easy on the eyes, but is it awkward filming scenes like that? Putting the sex scenes in is admittedly
something I did to make the film a little more
inviting. We asked the actors about their comfort with
nudity when they read for the parts. And also, sex is a part
of a relationship -- I didn’t want to shy away
from that. Both Simon and Justin were good about it,
and I had experience with sex scenes from the other
films I’ve done. When you get down to doing the
blocking and who’s positioned where, it kind of
kills a lot of the tension or awkwardness.
You said you thought you’d play Marcel. Does that
mean you saw yourself in the Marcel role in your own relationship? When I wrote it, yes -- I was the one who had
trouble letting go. But I’ve learned and grown
since then, and I’ve been in relationships where
I’ve been on the other side too -- where I wanted to
leave. But I think I’ve handled it better than
April, Kyle’s sister, isn’t portrayed very
sympathetically. Let’s face it, she’s
basically a bitch. Were you worried about coming
off as transphobic? It is a controversial role, but she’s not
meant to represent all transsexuals. She’s
just…a little messed up. Again, very hard to cast
because you don’t want a drag queen or someone who
just looks like a man in a dress. I’ve known
Rob Harmon for years. He’s not really an actor,
but I had seen him in drag and thought he might be good for
it. I think he surprised us with how convincing he
was. It’s a fun, kind of nasty role. He just
won Best Actor for the role in a film festival in Tenerife.
Was it April’s interference that killed Kyle and
Marcel’s relationship? I think she’s the catalyst, but
it’s really the two guys not being able to
handle their emotions. Marcel is too possessive and he
can’t handle Kyle being such a free spirit. And
I think Kyle eventually realizes he’s signed up
for a lot more than he planned to.
Marcel has to marry a woman to stay in the United
States. Was the issue of same-sex marriage on your
mind when you were making the film? It wasn’t such a big topic when I wrote
it, but of course it’s great that it’s
getting so much attention now. And it means I can talk about
it during interviews. But I really wanted to address
immigration -- it’s totally screwed up that we
gays don’t have equal rights as far as
immigration. I know so many people who have had to go
through this, marrying someone, to stay in the U.S. --
and they have to face the kind of interrogations
Marcel and Sarah do in the picture.
What marriage rights do gays have in Sweden? About 10 years ago, I think, they started
partnership registration. It gives you all the same
legal rights, but it’s just not called marriage. I
kind of wish that was how they went after it here --
let’s just get the rights first. Because in
Sweden now, it’s been around long enough that
everyone calls it marriage. But a lot of gay people I know
here get angry when I express this opinion.
“No, it has to be the same thing!” I see
their point, but it’s not the easiest way to go about
Aside from their access to marriage rights,
what’s the difference between American and
European gay guys? Well, I don’t know how much of an expert
I am, even though I’ve dated my share of both.
But I think people in Europe are much more willing to
commit to relationships. Americans seem a lot more cautious.
Maybe it feels like that because my experience is
specific to New York and L.A., which are like the
capitals of non-commitment! [Laughs]
One thing I loved about the film is how, when the
relationship has totally unraveled, who gets to keep the
apartment becomes a major point of contention.
That’s a very New York perspective. Oh, definitely! I have neighbors next door who
used to be a couple -- they broke up, but they still
live together in their railroad apartment. Then one
had his boyfriend move in, and now all three share one
apartment. So one of the guys has to walk through the
other’s bedroom to get to his own room.
They’ve been doing it for years now. It’s a
very New York thing.
What’s next for you? I just codirected a film called The Big Gay
Musical, which is a romantic comedy about two gay actors
in an off-Broadway production. It’s the first
time I did a project that I’m not also writing
and producing. It’s on hold right now while the
producers secure more funding.
Was it hard being a hired gun after working on your
own projects for so long? Oh God, no, it was a huge relief! As a producer,
you’re so conscious about how much everything
is costing. We had a truck crash while we were filming
Big Gay Musical. The truck was totaled, but
the equipment we needed inside was fine, so I didn’t
even care about the accident. Had it been my own film,
I would’ve been pulling my hair out. I’m
definitely looking to be a hired gun again.