Untitled Tenderness Project

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Interview by Zach Shinske


I saw a lot of growth in these characters throughout the piece. Both started off timid and unsure, but towards the end they grew more confident in themselves and in the work that they were creating. How did you decide to use the action of a rehearsal process for these characters to explore the way they feel?

One reason I was drawn to the rehearsal process for this film was that rehearsing with someone requires building a lot of trust, so it became a great way to develop an intense relationship between two characters who spend most of their time talking about something other than how they feel. Also, any creative endeavor requires a lot of thought - a lot of thinking and rethinking and working through how you feel and what you want, so a creative process seemed like a natural way to lead the characters to their eventual revelations about representation.
 

Being a young actor, the prospect of a stage kiss can be exciting and terrifying all at the same time. I think this piece really captures the level of intimacy required to rehearse for a play or a scene. How do you think this process is elevated for two college students who are also just starting to understand and explore their own sexuality?

I was really excited to get to incorporate the kiss rehearsal process into this film, because it's something I've helped actors work through for almost everything I've made, and something I've always wished I could get on film. I love these moments of hesitant intimacy, of beginning to cross some invisible boundary, and in this case that effect of the physical closeness of the kiss was very much heightened in that it echoed the boys' growing emotional closeness.
 

In one very poignant moment in the short, one of the characters says he can’t help but feel “doomed” in response to the notion that queer characters often end up dead or in heartbreak. The entertainment industry, but especially theatre and film, is finally starting to tell a wider variety of stories from different perspectives. How do you hope to contribute to this new wave of cinema? What kind of stories do you hope to see in the next 5 years?

It's a big question, but I would love to keep contributing - in my small way - more ordinary stories about queer people. Soft, awkward, sometimes painfully realistic stories about queer people just trying to find their way, or fall in love, or make something worth making. As much as I would love to see more queer fantasy epics and adventure stories, I'd like to hope that there will still be room for this quieter kind of storytelling, because it makes a happy queer future a bit more possible to imagine.
Kirk Gostkowski