BY GARY M. KRAMER | Brent Gorski stars as the title character in "Holding Trevor," a fine romantic comedy-drama he penned about a trio of gay and gay-friendly 20-somethings searching for love and the meaning of life.
On the phone from Los Angeles, the actor/writer Gorski insists that the film - in which Trevor deals with his addicted ex, Darrell (Christopher Wyllie), and falls for Ephram (Eli Kranski), while his friends Jake (Jay Brannan of "Shortbus" fame) and Andie (Melissa Searing) sort out their own love lives - is not autobiographical. But he does admit to writing the lead role with the intent of playing the part. In addition, he penned Trevor's BFF Jake for Brannan, his BFF from college.
"While it's not my story, there are parts of me that are in the film and pepper the story. The character and I have a lot in common, but he and I definitely relate to people and approach situations differently," Gorski said.
Directed by Rosser Goodman
Opens Jul. 4
He explained that while he is "definitely neurotic and organized and obsessive about things," unlike Trevor he does not curse much.
"I'm aware of my surroundings, and know when [cursing] is appropriate," he said. "Trevor just lets loose."
Some of the film's amusement - and drama - come from watching Trevor mouth off in anger.
Gorski is very dry-witted, like his character and his script. He likes irony, and his characters' talk is sprinkled with sarcasm but also realism. The charm of this indie film is that the characters and their friendships are believable. When Trevor and Jake talk in a friendly, shorthand fashion, audiences understand their rapport, and get into the rhythm of their lives.
The writer uses humor deliberately to diffuse some of the film's angst-y character-driven drama. When Ephram tries to get serious with Trevor about a juncture in their relationship, Trevor mocks him, albeit lovingly. Gorski explained that while he used humor to "lighten a situation or deflect one and be more comfortable," he did not have a strategy on where or how to place the emotional beats of the story. The script came together because he juxtaposed the comedy and the drama.
"We can't take ourselves too seriously," he said. "You need humor to break up the tension or keep things moving in the right direction. Using [comedy] allowed me to never get too heavy-handed or clichÃ©d."
Conversely, a cute bedroom moment in which Ephram tickles Trevor had to play straight. In real life, Gorski is quite ticklish, so it was a challenge for him to play someone who claimed not to be. When they had to film the scene, Gorski suddenly realized they would have to film it in such a way that he would not laugh on camera.
The critical thing in telling this love story was, he said, "trying to get something different out there. What is important about these characters is where they are at in their lives and how they are dealing with their relationships and what they are learning about themselves."
Gorski chose to tackle the topic of drug addiction because he saw how people close to him have faced such demons. But he also made a conscious decision to address the issue of AIDS.
"Since there are gay characters in the movie, I wanted to shed a different light on an aspect of the HIV story, and something that is a reality to a number of people," he said. "I didn't want to fall into a stereotype. I wanted to go against the grain."
"Holding Trevor" is all about communication and how people - even sarcastic, self-absorbed, even cynical and unsympathetic people - find ways to reach out to their friends and loved ones. When Darrell crashes a party, it is an uncomfortable moment for Trevor, never mind his guests. Likewise, when Trevor and Ephram talk honestly about their relationship, or Andie drops a bomb on Trevor, the impact of these moments has aftershocks on the characters -- and the audience.
Gorski is thoughtful in explaining why these themes resonate.
"We can play things out in our heads, but until we say them out loud, and get feedback, you can't read the situation," he said of the back and forth in relationships just beginning. "I think that in terms of timing, it is not about being selfish, it's finding when we can approach them so it will lead somewhere and they will be receptive."
Hopefully audiences will be receptive to "Holding Trevor," which was made as a labor of love. Gorski acknowledged that the microbudget project was too much for him to direct, and he was lucky and happy to find Rosser Goodman, who had film production experience, to turn his script into a film.
"She became so invested in the story that she [signed] on immediately," he said.
That said, the writer and actor does not rule out getting behind the camera himself.
"I think in the future, I could envision writing and directing a piece," he said.
But for now, he can rest on "Holding Trevor"'s laurels.