Joseph Graham's Beautiful Something

Joseph Graham, writer-director
Filmmaker Joseph Graham is having his new film Beautiful Something play at the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco. This is Graham's second feature, but this will be his first time at the annual Bay Area event. Graham lives in San Francisco, just a few blocks away from the Castro Theatre, the restored 1920's movie palace where his movie will screen.

Graham says the Castro Theatre is the most coveted venue at Frameline because of its prestige and size. It has a huge screen and can seat 1400 people. He didn't think his movie was big enough to play at such a venue, but Frameline programmers must think differently.

For a review of the film, read the article on my blog.

Given the film was made in my hometown of Philadelphia, I was curious to talk to Graham by phone and get some insight into the movie's production. Graham wrote the first draft for it back in 2007. The situations were inspired by experiences from his own life and the characters from gay men he had actually encountered. The film is very autobiographical in that regard. Much has been fictionalized, but much has been taken from Graham's life during his 20's. He's now 46.

Graham tried to raise funds to produce the film about eight years ago. He came close twice, but each time things fell apart. He decided to move on. In 2010, he released his debut feature called Strapped, a movie that in several ways was very similar to his autobiographical script. He followed it with a short, horror film. In fact, Graham's true passion is to make horror films, as he revealed in an interview around that time.

The writer-director wanted to do a feature-length, horror film next but couldn't get it off the ground. Potential investors and producers wanted him to do something like Strapped again.

One such producer was Kelly A. Burkhardt. She's a film producer, based in Philadelphia and former managing director at TLA Entertainment, a LGBT movie distributor. Graham sent her his 2007 screenplay and she showed a lot of interest. Graham had no interest of going down that road again, but Burkhardt suggested instead of San Francisco or Los Angeles, that they shoot the film in Philadelphia, which was all that was needed to change Graham's mind.

In the above video clip, Graham expresses his love of the City of Brotherly Love.

Colman Domingo in 'Beautiful Something'
Colman Domingo stars in Beautiful Something as Drew Tiger, a dedicated artist working on a large, all-consuming sculpture. The movie focuses on how Drew's art interferes with his personal relationships.

Domingo came to fame on Broadway. He was nominated for a Tony Award in 2011 for the musical The Scottsboro Boys. Other, Broadway credits include Passing Strange and Chicago. He's a name that few Americans would recognize. Yet, he's had roles in several, award-winning or box-office hits, such as Selma, Lee Daniels' The Butler and even Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. He's about to become well-known to a lot more Americans when he'll be seen in the upcoming Fear the Walking Dead, a spin-off series from the hit AMC program The Walking Dead.

Being a horror fan, Graham was thrilled to learn this news, but prior to making this film, Graham could be counted among the few Americans who probably wouldn't have been able to recognize Domingo at first glance. In fact, Graham didn't. He saw that Domingo was a friend of a friend on Facebook and invited him to perform at a table reading of his script at Philadelphia's Qfest in July 2013.

As a result, this is perhaps Domingo's sexiest role. Graham said Domingo responded immediately to the script. He was most-likely attracted to the character, the opportunity, or in equal measure Graham's writing. Whatever the reason, it led to Graham and Domingo wanting to work together again. The two plan to come back in Graham's next project tentatively titled Revelations. Graham describes it as "Rosemary's Baby meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers in The Cabin in the Woods while Hansel & Gretel are watching." That mash-up of four, highly-rated, horror films should intrigue any one.

Graham says he's also writing a werewolf picture, even though he doesn't like the term "werewolf." He also has a musical in mind about a performer who only feels happiness when he's performing whereas the rest of his life is miserable. He says he was inspired by watching recent documentaries on Kurt Cobain and Michael Jackson, but, unless something catastrophic happens, Graham will move forward with Domingo on Revelations.

Beautiful Something screens at in San Francisco on Monday, June 22.
For show times and tickets, go to Frameline39's web site.
It will also screen at Outfest Los Angeles on Thursday, July 16.
For show times and tickets, go to Outfest's web site.
For more information and future screenings, go to the film's Facebook page.
Also, check out Joseph Graham's first feature Strapped on iTunes, Amazon and Hulu.


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