Street Hassle Synopsis

A tape recorder begins to roll. A nervous, young reporter from a local free newspaper, attempting to find a “human interest” story, begins to question a man hidden in shadows. The man chain-smokes like a chimney. They sit on opposite ends of a junk strewn table, in the middle of a collapsing, rotted out warehouse. This is the home of Martin, Male Hustler. The reporter has come to question him about his life and experiences. Attempting to sidetrack the reporter from digging too deeply into his personal life, he narrates to her lurid tales of his first experiences, run-ins with homophobic cops and attempts to get out of the life by going to college to become a teacher and to improve his writing. But the reporter has also interviewed, an old friend of Martin’s; Crista, a punk rocker. On his end, Martin is openly bitter about Crista, as he blames her as the source of his current woes. In the course of the parallel interviews, we learn why Martin feels this way about Crista, and how for a time Crista was once Martin’s personal savior and greatest supporter through college and getting cleaned up. Until one day, Crista sets up a meeting with Martin to meet an old writing friend, Jacob Mailer, who she believes will help him out with his current manuscript, an autobiographical tale about a male prostitute. However, there’s one thing Crista doesn’t know about Jacob. He was once Martin’s screenwriting teacher and is a seducer of his students, male and female. Martin always detested him for his arrogance and smarm, and now is shocked to find himself having dinner with his worst enemy. Things grow more intense, as Jacob makes it painfully clear he cares nothing about Martin’s writing, and using his foreknowledge about Martin’s life as a prostitute, he attempts to buy him for sexual favors. This triggers a particularly violent memory from his past, involving the revelation of him being raped by his father, that intensifies his hatred and self-loathing at this moment. He ends up agreeing to Jacob’s proposal, but in the midst of their sexual encounter he turns the table on Jacob, in a scene that merges his past memories with his father with this moment with Jacob. These painful memories and demons that haunt Martin force him, in a shattering conclusion, to come clean with the interviewer with his emotions, about why he lead the life of a hustler, and why it’s more difficult than he ever could imagine to leave his life of hustling and dealing.

Street Hassle is a 20-minute short film, which is currently a work-in-progress seeking completion funds. I am the Writer-Director-Producer of the film and expect to complete it by January 2009. The majority of the film has already been shot, in a combination of 16mm Black & White and Color Negative film stock.

From a aesthetics and style standpoint, it is meant to pay homage to the Docudrama aspects of Bob Fosse’s Lenny and Star 80, in it’s use of faked “interviews” and the flashback structure with interview narration playing occasionally on top. The Color Footage will be desaturated in post, as the film is meant to be shown as a purely B & W film. This is done for two reasons: 1) The actual B & W stock is used on the “interview” sections of the film, to give those scenes a grainier documentary feel, in contrast to the crisper-naturalistic color stock for the narrative moments. 2) The lighting for color stock gives me more flexibility in lighting set-ups for dramatic purposes, than B & W stock, which has lower E.I. settings for simpler lighting set-ups. From a narrative perspective, I am attempting to tackle something that I feel isn’t talked about very often. How gay prostitution as a profession is an area of society not usually explored in any great detail in the cinematic world, or when it is explored in cinema, the characters aren't treated with much empathy or explored on deeper levels of what led them down this path. I feel that the emotional, psychological and physical impact of this life, whether you agree or disagree with the choices in life hustlers and prostitutes make or not, isn't explored very often or with much depth. I suppose that I started, like the interviewer in the story, trying to explore this subject from a sociological level, but realized I couldn't do it from too detached a perspective. My goal is provide emotional and intimate attachment to characters one wouldn’t be inclined at first to feel such closeness towards. I want to make the audience think and feel at the same time, so that you didn't come away from it thinking "well that was a pleasant timekiller", and then forget about it 10 minutes later. I want you to remember. To know that it had an impact on your life in the same way it did on mine.

I have based this on hours of interviews and research with various former pimps, drug dealers and hustlers, as well as on pre-existing studies on the causes and effects of Prostitution on a personal and sociological level. I did this in the attempt to make the characters live and breath as three-dimensional, flawed individuals, who deserve to be treated better than they are usually portrayed in the media.

I want to promote this primarily among GLBT Cinema festivals, which are fast becoming a large percentage of the film festival circuit in the United States. My ultimate goal with this film is to give voice to those who have none, to push issues that involve GLBT themes and to be used as an example for other artists to be as direct and upfront about their artistic goals as possible, and to find emotional beauty in even the grimmest of circumstances. I have strived to do this in my previous experimental and student works, and wish to continue in my personal and professional lives as well.

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