A Gay Rugby Feature Film
‘It’s time for a new kind of gay cinema, beyond sexuality angst’
There will undoubtedly come a time in the very near future where acceptance over sexuality will become normality and homophobia will mostly be a thing of the past. As a gay filmmaker, I’ve always believed that we need more forward thinking cinema to reflect this rapidly approaching change and perhaps even help bring it about faster.
Gay cinema is often guilty of reducing its gay characters’ central conflicts to simply the struggles over their sexuality. Whilst these stories are important and should be told, we also need stories that go beyond ‘coming out angst’ and model our place in this rapidly approaching post-acceptance world, becoming our own modern-day myths and stories to illuminate the complexities of our modern desires and lives. I felt that any film project I undertook that explores gay subject matter should attempt to adhere to this philosophy. In searching for a great story that might do this, ironically, I found it in the world of Rugby.
For last 5 years, I’ve been a member of the Kings Cross Steelers, a gay and inclusive Rugby club in London. In the time since joining, I’ve met a wonderfully diverse set of people, played in several international tournaments, built great friendships with other gay Rugby players from across the globe and had many amazing life experiences that I’ll never forget. The rugby world is incredibly progressive and often reminds you how much the world has changed. But more importantly, it introduced me to an amazingly unique and rich culture that lends itself perfectly to being explored on the big screen. In a Rugby club, you spend a large amount of time with the same group of people, sometimes with very different personalities and this is a treasure trove of interesting drama to mine for storytelling.
Kings Cross Steelers – Rugby Club
The challenge, however, was to make a story that would appeal to anyone, not just people who were familiar with the sporting world. Therefore, I approached Adam Silver, a long-standing film buyer working in film distribution who acquired my first feature film many years ago and who had become a close friend in the time since. After pitching him the idea, he immediately wanted to be involved as both Producer and co-writer. Importantly, Adam knew NOTHING about Rugby, which I felt was ideal. If Adam found a story element interesting any audience member would, working with him was a perfect litmus test when developing the screenplay.
Very early on we agreed on a rule, homophobia would not feature in this story and all the characters would already be comfortable with their sexualities. Not only did this free us up creatively, but also allowed us to explore new ground without being constrained and burdened by the often easy and default central conflict option of sexuality angst. It forced us to come up with fully 3-dimensional characters with nuanced and complex flaws, desires and objectives.
The essential narrative core became an adulterous love affair between two members of our fictional club, both of which were in existing relationships, exploring both the pitfalls and necessities of monogamy and how different relationships can form and affect a wider social group of close-knit men. I also had somewhat of a personal connection to this concept too. I myself had once been involved in a similar romantic situation with a fellow club member. The experience and what transpired, heavily informed and inspired the writing process. Adam and I took this idea and reworked it into a cinematic fiction, drawing from many of the other stories I’ve heard from other gay rugby clubs over the years, layering them with drama and conflict to flesh out an archetypal story of forbidden love that could be universally relatable.
After many iterations and refinements of the script, we began to get consistently positive responses and feedback and were ready to proceed with pre-production. Given my background as a film-maker, I’m lucky to possess most of the production equipment and post production skills needed to carry out a high-quality production on a modestly small budget, all we needed was a little funding and we would be ready to go. After receiving some initial investment, we decided to run a Kickstarter campaign to fill the funding gap that would allow us to carry out the project to the standard that would do it justice.