I decided a few weeks ago to finally participate in a documentary that featured me speaking about my life and my sexuality. I had been offered docs before but had turned them down for one reason or another. This time I was approached by John Balson of Barcroft Media, and initially I wavered on participating but ultimately decided to go ahead and do it. What I liked about this one is that it would only require two days of filming. And I’ve been working my way up to more and more exposure, so I suppose I was just ready.
John and his cameraman, Rauridh (pronounced like Rory) Connellan, flew down last Wednesday night, and I met up with them at 1 PM on Thursday in my local McDonald’s parking lot. I liked them immediately. They were younger than I imagined they would be—in their mid-twenties—and both were originally from London and had pronounced English accents, though they’ve lived in New York City for the last couple of years. They were generous, pleasant and very down-to-earth. I was still a bit nervous that first day and I’m sure it showed, but they just had a way about them that put me at ease. I took them to a local restaurant called the Saw Meal, where we ate lunch and discussed what we were going to be doing over the next few days.
Then I led them to the local boat ramp to do some initial filming. It was about 2:30 PM at this point and the temperature had climbed to the high 90s on the Fahrenheit scale, with a heat index of 105 degrees. I began to sweat buckets immediately and had a soaked t-shirt in minutes. For some reason I had opted to wear long pants, socks and tennis shoes instead of my customary shorts and sandals for such weather. I suppose I thought it would be more stylish on camera. Needless to say, it was a choice I soon regretted, and I am relatively certain almost none of that footage will be usable in the end. Oh, well.
I then decided to go ahead and take them back to my house, even though I had initially told them I didn’t want to do any shooting at or near there. I live in an old, well-worn mobile home inherited from my grandmother, and it’s currently in the midst of being repaired and redecorated. Moreover, I’m a pretty typical bachelor as well as a creative type: not a disgusting slob (I don’t leave old food lying around or anything, and I regularly wash my dishes and clean my bathrooms), but not exactly neat and tidy either. There are books, note-stuffed folders and artist’s implements lying everywhere. Meaning that my place isn’t exactly photogenic, though Rauridh assured me the backgrounds would be blurred out anyway. I’m holding him to that. You hear my, Rauridh? You better not make me look like a slob! 😉
I changed my clothes and we shot some interior stuff. I was still sweating somewhat, even though my house was much cooler than the outdoors. It just seemed like everything was at such a hectic pace, something I’m not used to. Again, they both assured me I was doing fine. I’m still not sure if they were being sincere or just encouraging me to continue, but for the most part it worked. Eventually they departed for their hotel room to get some supper, but they returned about an hour-and-a-half later and we resumed shooting till about 8 PM, including another go at the river. This time it wasn’t as hot, but some river-dwelling dolt was running a loud, obnoxious machine right across the river the entire time we were there, disturbing the sensitive sound equipment Rauridh was using. I don’t think much of that is going to be usable unless they overlay some of the sound portion from an earlier interview session over it and just keep the video portion. After that we called it an evening.
The next day they showed up at my place about 11 AM. I was much calmer on Friday, and it was also not nearly as hot and humid, so I wasn’t as prone to sweating my behind off. We did the bulk of the heavy interviewing in my house that day, and it was quite successful, I think. They also wanted to talk to me out on the front porch, but as it was quite cluttered, we had to do some rearranging first. As the guys were in the process of moving around some pieces of plywood, I spotted a huge spider sitting on the wood and called them over.
“You guys know what that is?” I asked.
“It’s a brown recluse. You don’t want to mess with those.” I grabbed a broom and prepared to nail it, but John stopped me.
“No, don’t, it’s bad luck to kill a spider!” he stated firmly.
Raurigh was more sensible and refused to proceed until it was dead. I reassured John that I wouldn’t kill it but merely shoo it away as he went inside to visit the bathroom, and when he was out of sight, I promptly bashed the critter with the broom, much to Rauridh’s amusement. Sorry, John. I have no problem with non-venomous spiders at all, and if it had been nearly any other species I would happily have let it be, but I take no chances with brown recluses or black widows, the two major venomous varieties of spider in my region. With the spider defeated, we did some more of the interview here, until I again started to sweat. Though it took longer to get to that point, so I think most of that will come out all right in the end.
Finally, we jumped in the silver Dodge Charger the guys had rented and sped toward Nashville to shoot the final segment. It was around 6 PM when we arrived in Nashville. We left the car in a parking garage and walked down to one of the nearby bar districts, which was booming that Friday night. The guys had some really fun ideas for shooting amidst the crowd, and we managed to get most of it without too much interference from drunk and/or curious revelers on the street.
With John and Rauridh’s mission complete, we said our goodbyes and they hired an Uber driver to take me home, as they were catching a plane back to NYC from Nashville. It was around 7:30 PM at this point. My driver was an older fellow, quite chatty and personable. I liked talking with him but was more than eager to get home. This had already gone way past my comfort threshold. The things you do for art . . .
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be until sometime around midnight when we finally rolled into my driveway, as we ran into a major accident on I-40 just outside of Nashville that shut the interstate down for hours and slowed traffic to a crawl. Ironically, we were about six miles from the next exit, but it took us nearly two hours to get to it. Once we did, we took a detour that added another half hour to the trip. But boy, was I glad to be home! I thanked my poor driver profusely and tipped him $20, knowing it would be around 3 AM before he finally made it home. And that was the end of it.
The next day I just relaxed and took it all in. This was, to date, the most intimate media exposure and involvement I’ve had. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I want to repeat it again soon. Even so, I made $250 on it—not bad for two days’ work, eh?