Cameron Thrower: LGBT-centric independent cinema and its rewards

Pretty Boy dealt with the sensitive issue of adolescent identity crisis in such a heartfelt and inspiring way that I really wanted to speak with its writer/director Cameron Thrower about its conception. Thrower continues to make waves, particularly as he was selected by Maggie Gyllenhaal herself in the Jameson First Shot contest (in partnership with Kevin Spacey’s Trigger Street Productions), which meant she’d star in his very own short, Beauty Mark. The theme of film sought after by Gyllenhaal and co. was “Fearing less and letting life in”, which is something both Pretty Boy and Beauty Mark adhere to beautifully.

How has the response been to Pretty Boy? I’m sure it touched a lot of people. Even the sentiments about family will be comforting for many too, because there are a lot of people for various reasons who don’t feel they belong in theirs.

The response has been overwhelming and humbling. I feel so tremendously fortunate! When I wrote Pretty Boy I had no idea it would affect people to this degree. After being on set and watching the performances of Nick Eversman and Rebekah Tripp I knew the finished product was going to be amazing. As soon as post-production (editing/ sound mixing/ music) was finished, I realized that we had a very special project.

After attending numerous film festivals with Pretty Boy I was blown away by the response the film received from audiences. Throughout the Q&A’s and the one-on-one time spent with the audiences post screening, many people shared how touched they were by actor performances and the story itself. It was such an incredible feeling to know that Pretty Boy had touched people in such a way and that they took the film’s message into their hearts.

Since it’s release on YouTube and Vimeo, it’s taking on a life of it’s own and I couldn’t be prouder of the film.

Why did you choose a prostitute as the person who would give him courage? It’s interesting to see a parallel between both of these stigmatized peoples.

When I was writing the script, I wanted someone who was going through their own struggles that might be able to help Sean through his struggles. Personally, I’ve had so many people help me out through my struggles of coming out as a young person; close friends & family members. Some people aren’t as lucky as I was, so I wanted to put all those people that helped me into this one character, “Katie”.

Short Film Still 'Pretty Boy'

It seems like you had a great team on board, with “Katie” (Rebekah Tripp) as producer too. How important was this aspect in completing your independent film? Were there hardships/obstacles to overcome in making it?

You couldn’t have said it better. Gathering this talented team was one of the most important things to me as we set out to make Pretty Boy. Rebekah Trip (“Katie”/ Producer) was one of the first people to read a rough draft. After reading it, she was on board as Katie and Producer. Rebekah is one of the most talented actresses I know, and also a brilliant collaborator. Her character ideas were so simple but powerful in making this story so compelling. Having her by my side as we went on the Pretty Boy journey was such an important factor in making this the best possible film. After the brilliant actors, Nick Eversman (“Sean”) & Jon Briddell (the father) signed on, I knew we had a power house of talent. I think that’s one of the most important things in making an independent film, getting such talented actors that care about who they’re playing no matter all the character flaws they might have.

As soon as we had Jesse Aragon (DP),Ryan Figueroa (AC), Jeremy Rodriguez (AD), Lillard Anthony (Composer), Anne Montavon (Production Supervisor), Justin Kornmann (UPM), Chris Dowske (Set Sound Mixer), Brooke Davis Darwin (Make-up), Gustavo Ramos (PD), Taylor Casteen(Wardrobe), Sonny Nicholas (Story Boards), Waymon Boone (Dialogue Editor/ SM), Kate Hendrikson & Chase Darwin (PA’s) I knew we had found the perfect pieces and our puzzle was complete. Through Pretty Boy we built this wonderful team and I cannot wait to work with them on the next project.

What was the most rewarding part of the film?

One, working with the talent cast & crew to bring this film to life.  Two, touring around the festival circuit with this film and sharing the message with so many audiences. Not only has it been a learning experience, but also a therapeutic one as well.

Pretty Boy Still Shot Image

How did you get started in filmmaking/commercial producing? Has it always been your goal?

Being an 80’s child, I had access to the best that technology had to offer; my dad’s VHS camcorder. I loved recording my family on vacations and capturing real moments and then showcasing them when we got home. When I was about 9 I finally asked if I could borrow his camcorder over the weekend to make a movie with some family and friends. He said yes, thank God!  I then discovered the painstaking process of editing on two VCR’s and I was hooked! Once middle school hit, I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. The rest is history!

Anything new coming up you’d like to share with Monologue Blogger readers? I loved the 80s-set Beauty Mark too, by the way. Similar theme but different sort of tone. You tackle LGBT issues really interestingly.

Well thank you! Beauty Mark was a very special project to me. Had such a blast on that film. It was a life changing experience.

I think now, more than ever, LGBT films are so important and that’s why they pop up in my movies. Current events tend to lend them self to me when I’m writing. When I hear about a situation that’s fucked up, or people treating someone differently just because it’s not the normal, it motivates me to tell these stories.

As far as other projects, I just finished directing a music video we released a couple weeks ago, called Still Worth.  Super talented band.

Also writing a feature film with my writing partner and finishing up writing 3 short films. So basically, I’m in my creative writing cocoon getting ready to go into production very soon.

Jenni D'Alton

Jenni is a recent graduate from Dublin, Ireland, where she studied English, Media and Cultural Studies and finally the years of watching movies and television from her bedroom (what became known as the 'cave' to her unsupportive friends) paid off, because she could actually put her lazy hobby down to "research".