|Simon Shore, director of Get Real
|by Dov Kornits
Reality bites. Especially when you're a 16 year old British high school student living a double life - in and out of the celluloid closet. In Get Real, Steven Carter (Ben Silverstone) only shares his secret with Linda (Charlotte Brittain), his neighbour and archetypal, overweight, friendly fag-hag. Steven is gay and proud; he just knows that it wouldn't be a smart move to shout it loud to his parents, and especially his homophobic classmates. Until he meets John Dixon (Brad Gorton), the hunky school jock who just doesn't know which team to bat for.
Adapted by Patrick Wilde from his first play "What's Wrong with Angry?", Get Real shares a lot with Beautiful Thing, another British play adaptation that explored a semi-autobiographical tale of coming out.
"That play was on at the same time as Patrick's play but they got the money to make their film before we did," explains Get Real's director Simon Shore.
"Initially that made it quite difficult for us. There aren't many sources for film funding in the UK, and we did get a few responses saying, "Well, we've done a gay film, why do we need another one?" But in the end Beautiful Thing really helped us because it was such a big hit and was a huge crossover hit, so people wanted more. In the end it helped us get the money but we were a couple of years behind it.
"But yeah, Patrick had a relationship with a guy who couldn't actually decide if he was gay or not. So yes, in that respect it's autobiographical. But he told me that he wasn't that funny or confident when he was sixteen. There is a lot of autobiographical stuff in there. The character of Linda, who's been attacked by some critics for being a cliched fag hag, was actually Patrick's best friend, and she was sharing a house with him when he was writing the play. And she actually played the role in the play. Sometimes cliches are cliches because they're true. She was funny and real, and she had to stay."
The 39 year old Shore makes his feature film debut with Get Real after conquering both documentary and that British staple, TV dramas.
"I liked doing documentaries, but I really wanted to do features," he says. "I'm working on another British film now. It's a very complicated film. It's a romantic comedy about identical twins, but there are some quite serious things in there as well. So it's quite similar to Get Real in that respect. I haven't cast it yet, but both the identical twins have to be played by the same person, so there'll be a lot of special effects in it."
No special effects in Get Real, just a strong storyline and solid acting (though Brad Gorton doesn't match his good looks with his acting ability) - not too dissimilar from the play that it's based on. Or is it?
"The main difference between the play and film is that the play is more specifically about the UK. There are a few more specific references to gay politics in Britain in the play. There's a law called Section 28, which doesn't allow teachers to promote homosexuality in schools. A law that Margaret Thatcher brought in in the eighties for local government. This was around the time when AIDS awareness started in school, and there was a right wing backlash. So if a student is being bullied for being gay, a teacher can't really stand up for him by saying there's nothing wrong with being gay. This is a law which Tony Blair's government is about to repeal. There was a plot about that in the play and we left it out because we wanted the film to work internationally. We also naively expected that the law would be repealed by the time the film came out."
Get Real is about to be released in Australia during the Mardi Gras festivities, and follows an American release that's still bringing the punters in. It's a successful feel-good teenage comedy/drama that's had Simon Shore fending off American teen flick scripts. He says he wants to stay in Britain for a couple more films - then he might be ready to work with the likes of Freddie Prinze Jr and Matthew Lillard.
"I want at least my next two films to be made in the UK. I think that will give me more autonomy and freedom. I enjoy making films about the society that I know about. Going to America could be a mistake if you did it for the wrong film."
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originally posted: 02/28/00 20:02:38
last updated: 02/28/00 20:17:22