What’s Up, ’Go Doc?’ :: Cory Krueckeberg on His Sexy New ’Project’
A sweet, sexy tale about a country boy and a city guy who form an unlikely couple in New York, Cory Krueckeberg's new film might call to mind other offbeat romantic gay movies you've seen lately, like "Weekend" or "Private Romeo." Indeed, the lively spirit of "The Go Doc Project" might even spark a memory of the 2008 romantic comedy "Were the World Mine," which Krueckerg wrote, and Tom Gustafson directed. (The two also worked together to make last year's "Mariachi Gringo.")
In "Were the World Mine," Timothy (Tanner Cohen), a student enduring the jeers and taunts that come with being the only openly gay student at an all-boys school, decodes the recipe for a love potion from the text of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." What follows is a magical, if hormonal, rendition of the play and makes for a fun and lively musical film (Krueckeberg also wrote the song lyrics).
Now Krueckeberg steps behind the camera and shows that he can tell a story in images as well as words. In "The Go Doc Project," Tanner Cohen is back to play an unnamed college student who’s mere weeks from graduating and returning to his rural roots. His time in New York City has been memorable if for no other reason than the go-go dancer he’s seen at a club and with whom he’s become smitten.
One drunken night, after posting his latest complaints on a video blog, our country mouse hatches a scheme to get to know the dancer: He sends an email introducing himself as a budding documentary filmmaker, and asks the dancer if he’d like to serve as the anchor for a new film about New York’s night life.
The dancer, played by real-life clothing designer Matthew Camp, allows the faux filmmaker access to his home, his thoughts, and eventually his feelings. As their lives begin to entwine and their feelings deepen, a film really does start to emerge from their collaboration. But there’s more happening here: The two -- who call each other by the nicknames "Go" and "Doc" -- explore parts of themselves, and each other, they might have hesitated to open up to before. Go ventures into emotional intimacy; Doc enjoys sexual experiences that take him beyond his first fumbling efforts. Together, the two seem to complete one another. But they are both young, and life’s pulling them in different directions, so how long can the bliss and excitement last?
"The Go Doc Project" charts the progress of this made-for-comedy relationship, but deftly sidesteps cliché and farce. While the laughs are there, so are deeper, more tender moments that will tug at viewers with a bittersweet undertow. Krueckeberg chatted with EDGE about the film, the actors, and more.
EDGE: "The Go Doc Project" is entirely composed of footage captured by laptop camera, cell phone camera, and video camera. In terms of scripting and figuring out the film’s visual schema, isn’t this a considerably more complicated approach than the traditional way of shooting a film? What led to the decision to film this way?
Cory Krueckeberg: You get really bored with the waiting that comes with getting a larger film off the ground and I wanted to do something productive with that frustration -- so the entire project was fueled by the desire to make something with big ideas and style very quickly and inexpensively.
My outline was fairly simple -- it did specify what types of cameras were used in each situation but that was all based on the logic of what Doc would need to use at the time. So the various cameras were integral to the reality of capturing the "scenes" on my outline -- as well as to making this film for almost no money.
The finished visual style was determined in large part by the logistics of Doc shooting and editing a film himself.
EDGE: "Go" and "Doc" are the only names we get for these characters. In a way, that choice serves to make them more universal as characters.
Cory Krueckeberg: This film is as much about the two actual subjects (Tanner and Matthew) as it is about what I brought to the film as a creator, so leaving them with nicknames based on their position in the film (Documentarian / Go-Go Dancer) is more pure than pretending they’re someone else by assigning arbitrary character names.
EDGE: You’ve worked with Tanner Cohen before, on "Were the World Mine." How did you come to cast clothing designer and model Matthew Camp?
Cory Krueckeberg: The film is a little bit meta in that I was having the basic flickers of the idea about the same time that I noticed Matthew on an NYC nightlife blog. His image fused with the idea in my mind and so, as I was outlining the basics, I was also emailing him and meeting up with him to talk about it.
EDGE: The film unfolds in a naturalistic way and the performances are a large part of that. How much did you allow the actors to improvise? How much did you let them bring their own interests into the story? Camp’s character, Go, for example, makes his own clothing.
Cory Krueckeberg: This truly is a doc about Matthew made by Tanner and I. It’s more real than reality TV, I’d say. There was a loose script / outline to keep us on track to make something interesting, but much of it was a result of prodding rather than screenwriting.
EDGE: The characters talk philosophy and politics, but this isn’t a message movie. What’s your general philosophy about movies? As works of art, do films have a primary obligation to "say" something, or is it enough to make us laugh and cry?
Cory Krueckeberg: Every film -- in fact, I think, every creative endeavor -- has a point of view and within that point of view there’s an innate voice that’s "saying" something. It’s inescapable. I don’t personally think it possible to create something without both informing and entertaining, because simply seeing something from someone else’s point of view is an education in one way or another.
EDGE: Speaking of gay cinema and this new film’s place in it, it seems to me that gay movies are really maturing and growing out of the adolescent phase they were stuck in for so long -- the fascination with seedy themes and self loathing that clung to "The Boys in the Band" and "Cruising," to name two early examples. Then there was a rash of comedies that seemed like they were really just trying to sugar coat the whole gay thing to reach a broader audience. Finally, it feels like we’re seeing movies about gay people who aren’t Gay with a capital G, but People with a capital P -- people who just happen to be gay. Was this your objective here?
Cory Krueckeberg: I love that... capital "P" for people...
I think that’s always my goal with anything. Our last film ("Mariachi Gringo" -- which is now On Demand and on DVD) is about a young man’s journey from Kansas to Mexico to follow a dream of being a mariachi, and in that script I wrote a trio of strong Mexican female characters. After seeing the film many Mexicans have asked, "How do you know how to write Mexican women so perfectly?"
It really comes down to thinking about characters as people with a capital "P," and not "M" for Mexican, "W" for Women, or "G" for Gay. We all have our baggage -- some of it comes from our heritage, some from our sexuality, some from our gender and so on. But deep down, we’re all the same.
EDGE: I was fascinated by how "The Go Doc Project" pays homage to Andy Warhol with several sequences that celebrate his movies "Eat," "Sleep," and "Kiss." (Not to give anything away, but the riff on "Kiss" was both beautiful to watch and an ingenious visual remark on how many relationships change over time.) At one point, the characters even reference Warhol’s work in a discussion about assimilation versus being "out and proud." Why Warhol?
Cory Krueckeberg: Warhol was a major influence in this film. When I start imagining anything, I look for something specific in culture to help root the piece in the real world and even though this film required more of an outline than a screenplay (which is already Warhol-ian), I was inspired by everything that Warhol did with film -- especially his almost documentary/pre-reality TV, reality-based movies.
The idea of turning on a camera and capturing a real response to his very basic direction (such him simply telling his subjects to "kiss" in his "Kiss" films) was intriguing to me.
The Go Doc Project screens on Saturday, May 11, 2013 at the Brattle Theatre, Cambridge as part of the Boston LGBT Film Festival. For more information, the Boston LGBT Film Festival. To know of upcoming screenings,