When local artist and film buff Kelly Burkhardt was working at TLA as the vice president of operations, a lot of movie scripts would come and go across her desk without much thought. There was one that slipped by, though, that continued to haunt her. It was called Beautiful Something, a fast-paced story written by Joseph Graham, who had worked with TLA previously on the movie Strapped. It followed four gay men on one wild night on the town, and she remembers thinking it would be great set in Philly. But its aggressive tone and a tiny lack of character development kept it from being a great fit for TLA.
This year, after resigning from the company, she decided to reach out to the Graham to see if he’d be interested in not only working with her to get it produced, but shooting it right here in Philly.
"I made him watch a lot of films made in Philly, and he really got deep into it," she says. "He fell in love with the vibe and grittiness of the city, and thought it worked for all the characters." It was a done deal.
Suddenly Kelly, now an independent producer, found herself at the helm of her very first feature film. In early October she began the audition process to find actors to portray the four main characters: four gay men of different ages and backgrounds who, she explains, "Are all trying to find connection through sex, love, art and desire." Without revealing any names, she hints that 80 percent of the complete cast will be from Philly, and she's interested in three actors from New York, including one with a Tony Award nomination under his belt. "We're very conscious about finding the right people," she says, especially since all the characters are based off people Joe [Graham] has met in his life.
Then there's the fifth, and perhaps most important character: Philadelphia. In the opening scene, Burkhardt says, Philly will be front and center, showcased by a cacophony of familiar sights and sounds. Most bar scenes will be filmed in the RUBA Club (as you see in the video below), but they do plan to take their cameras into the Gayborhood to capture its cobbled alleyways and some general nightlife scenes. Philly will also play a big part on the movie's soundtrack, with a collection of tunes all provided by local musicians. "We want to capture the soulful sound that came out of Philly, and mix that with rock music."
Now all they need is a shoot date, and, oh yea, money. To get it off the ground, Burkhardt has reached out to trusted funders and started an Indiegogo account to give the crowd-sourcing community a chance to take part. For now they're aiming for November, which she says couldn't come soon enough. She's anxious to see Joseph, a filmmaker she says she's adored for a long time, in action. "I love his shots," she says. "You can tell he puts his heart and soul into everything he makes. That's how I operate, too. The film has a lot of heart. I know that we're gonna make something special."
The project's Indiegogo account expires TOMORROW (Fri., Oct. 18), and at publish time its only reached $8,763 of its $25K goal. To give it a boost before the deadline, go here. Would be great to see a project like this happening in gay Philly.