SXSW FILM 2012
By Don Simpson | March 16, 2012
Director: Jonathan Lisecki
Writer: Jonathan Lisecki
Starring: Jenn Harris, Matthew Wilkas, Charlie Barnett, Samantha Buck, Louis Cancelmi, Christian Coulson, Alycia Delmore, Dulé Hill, Anna Margaret Hollyman, Jonathan Lisecki, Joanne Tucker
How do best friends go about making a baby? No, they are not married…or even dating, for that matter. Jenn (Jenn Harris) and Matt (Matthew Wilkas) are best friends from college. They are now in their thirties and currently single. Jenn has just never met the guy for her; neither has Matt, who is still recovering from his last relationship. Years ago, they promised to make a baby together; now, Jenn’s biological clock is ticking and she is ready to follow through on that pledge. The catch? She wants to make the baby the old fashioned way, you know, au naturale…no turkey basters, artificial insemination or fertilization for them!
Concurrently, Jenn and Matt struggle to get their dating lives back in motion while also jump-starting their careers (Jenn has a low-ranking position at a yoga studio; Matt is a comic book illustrator who is a clerk at a comic book store). They each make some bad decisions along the way, but they support each other as only best friends know how to do…which sometimes means not talking to each other for a while. Luckily they have a “nellybear” — Matt’s friend Nelson (Jonathan Lisecki) — to help guide them along their way.
Jonathan Lisecki’s Gayby is a film with many admirable qualities; it intelligently discusses sexuality (including issues of gay identity), aging, friendship, loneliness, and the definition of family. Gayby is not a “gay film”; it is a film about people and relationships, whether they be L-G-B-T-Q or A…and everything in between. (I also love the way race is handled.) Sure, Lisecki includes a lot of gay-oriented humor but his goal is not to segregate his audience, instead he hopes to create a better understanding of sexuality and gender. As offensive as some audiences may find a narrative about an unmarried straight woman and gay man having intercourse to make a baby, the purpose of Gayby is not to shock or offend people. For all of you naysayers out there (I am looking at you Rick Santorum!), Gayby might actually open your mind if you just give it a chance. When it comes down to it, Gayby is a well-written (and acted) and undeniably silly romantic comedy; I would love to watch any staunch religious conservative try to watch it with a straight (mind the pun) face!
I was also quite impressed by the production quality of Gayby, specifically the eye-popping colors — Clay Liford (Cinematographer) and Cat Navarro (Production Designer) certainly deserve kudos for that! It is also worth noting that Austin-based comic-book artist Nick Derington provided the drawings for Matt’s comic book (Super Gayby) and graphic designer (and filmmaker) Yen Tan designed the film’s poster.
(Also check out our SXSW 2012 interview with Jonathan Lisecki, Jenn Harris and Matthew Wilkas.)