g The Film Panel Notetaker: One-on-One Q&A, Jacqui Morris, Director - "Mr. Right" - NewFest Opening Night Film

Monday, June 08, 2009

One-on-One Q&A, Jacqui Morris, Director - "Mr. Right" - NewFest Opening Night Film

One-on-One Q&A
Jacqui Morris, Director – Mr. Right
NewFest Opening Night Film

The 2009 rendition of NewFest, the New York LGBT Film Festival, kicked off Thursday night at the SVA Theatre with Jacqui Morris’s British rom-com Mr. Right.

NewFest Acting Director Leslie Klainberg took a moment before the film began to thank the people and sponsors who’ve contributed and supported the festival. One such person thanked was SVA Theater head Gene Stavis, who told her last fall in his office before the theater underwent renovations, “I really wanted to build this theater for NewFest.” She thought he meant for small festivals like NewFest, but Stavis clarified, “No, I wanted NewFest to have a home in Chelsea.” Klainberg also took a moment to thank outgoing NewFest Artistic Director Basil Tsiokis, who had been with the festival for 10 years.

Morris, who had just arrived three hours earlier to New York for her first ever visit, was asked to introduce herself to the audience. It was brief, and she charmed us all with her lovely British accent. She had the audience laughing when she closed with “Hope to see you in the bar afterwards.” After viewing her film Mr. Right with an enthusiastic audience she answered a few audience questions. To summarize, the film had an excellent production value on a low budget. This was achieved through her work as a casting director, and using friends very nicely decorated homes. She completed shooting in 23 days. Many audience members had questions about the soundtrack which consisted of covers of famous songs that were markedly different from the original versions. Morris said, “Universal music was great about the music. George Michael loves the film.” The Gossip covered (Wham!’s 1984 hit) Careless Whisper and singer Beth Ditto of The Gossip is also behind the film. Morris noted “Music does date film. People like to hear familiar music, so we used music everybody knows but with a twist.” Morris spoke with The Film Panel Notetaker’s Kelly Deegan after the screening for a One-on-One Q&A.

Mr. Right Director Jacqui Morris enjoys her opening night party at NewFest. Photo by Kelly Deegan.

Deegan: What was it like to be part of NewFest?

Morris: To us, NewFest was going to be "the" festival. I was absolutely thrilled when we got accepted by NewFest, let alone the opening night film.

Deegan: I don’t even feel this is a film that just needs to be in gay festivals. This needs to get a wider audience. How are you marketing the film?

Morris: What we really want are people like you to say that. Logo is going to put it out on their channel, which is fantastic. But this should be in the mainstream. We’re on the cusp of it at the moment. Women particularly like this film, because a lot of the issues are very relevant. Women like gay men…A friend of mine said ‘gay is the new black in America.’ You’ve got this liberal America now that’s just desperate to jump on the bandwagon of any minority group, because they really want to understand it. That’s what we’re trying to do with it. To normalize it.

Deegan: Who wrote the story?

Morris: My brother (David Morris) wrote it.

Deegan: The title sequence in your film was so unique and interesting. The various retro patterned background and moving silhouettes were fantastic. Who designed them?

Morris: Thank you. I chose the patterns, but someone else animated them.

Deegan: I’m a Britophile myself. I love things all British. For this movie to be British, I was very excited. And the fact that George Michael loved this movie, that’s very amazing! It seems like you have a lot of important supporters that should help you build a network.

Morris: What we’ve also got is in the UK is an ad man named Trevor Beatty, very cutting edge work. We took the film to him and said we want an advertising campaign that ties a straight audience in, particularly men, because we knew that women would love it. That was a given. We sort of knew that gays would like it, but let’s try to get in with the most blue-blooded straight fellow. [Beatty] has come up with the most brilliant campaign, which is “Mr. Right, he’ll make you query yourself.” Are you man enough to go see a gay film? We turned it into a dare-go-see film. We’ve got this online...spoof documentary that’s going to be released over the net in installments. It’s about this quaint old village in the UK where all the men turn gay because they’ve watched Mr. Right. It’s really funny, and that’s going to get it into the mainstream. There’s also an important message and the way to bring it out is through humor.

Deegan: It’s great to see a movie with a lot of quick-witted Britsh humor that we don’t get to see a lot of here.

Morris: We do get a lot of your good TV programs…but you also get a lot of our good comedies. [Mr. Right] isn’t a big, silly belly laugh Richard Curtis like comedy. It is quite a sophisticated film.

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