Drugs. Drama. Disease.
For far too long, gay cinema have relied on tragic premises, often focusing on the most negative aspects of our community. From Brokeback Mountain to Call Me By Your Name, queer stories seem almost incapable of rewarding their protagonists with a happily ever after.
It’s a tiresome trend. Especially for queer folk who are sick of consuming tales of tragic love.
Thankfully, Singapore’s latest gay short film steers clear of this gay trope.
Dear Straight People,
Meet 29-year old Jasper Goh, one of the producers behind ‘Summerdaze‘ – Singapore’s latest gay short film about young love.
Better known as the founder of popular menswear label The Authority, Jasper Goh is not someone you would expect to produce a short film. But unbeknownst to many, filmmaking has always been a secret ambition of his.
One of my biggest dreams is actually to become a filmmaker so I’ve always wanted to produce a film.
We want this film to show straight people that gay love is as pure as heterosexual love.
A labour of love that required The Authority to fork out a five-figure sum, this 3-minute long short film deals with one of the oldest clichés in the gay world – falling for your straight best friend.
Falling for your straight best friend may be a cliche. But for many, it’s an incredibly relatable experience.
A collaboration between The Authority, Telescope Productions and director Martin Hong, it was a narrative that the entire team could relate to.
When Martin approached us about collaborating for the film, we said yes almost immediately as we have been fans of his work. From the locations right down to the music, he was the main conductor to the entire film and we are very thankful to have him take the lead on this
Almost of us could relate to the whole falling for your straight best friend cliche. I myself was in love with my best friend for 2 years.
Anyone who has ever fallen prey to this cliche will know that it is one of the worst states of friend zone anyone can possibly find themselves in. Given the torturous nature of such a dynamic, it would have been very easy for Summerdaze to follow in the footsteps of prior gay coming-of-age films.
But the team was adamant about keeping the tone of the film light. And as my interview with Jasper progresses, it becomes increasingly apparent why he would invest so much money to produce an inspirational gay short film.
Growing up, Jasper’s masculinity became a source of contention for him both in school and at home.
I was a bit feminine. People in school used to call me sissy boy.
My dad also felt like I was wired wrongly. I was always hanging with the females at family gatherings, talking about fashion etc.
Despite his father’s disapproval of his love for fashion, Jasper went on to take up night classes in a community centre to learn how to draw clothes. One particular incident that scarred him was his father’s reaction to his first drawing.
When I drew my first dress at the age of 15, I was very proud of it so I showed it to my mother.
She was like ‘that is very nice’ so she showed it to my dad. I remembered very clearly my dad just said ‘these types of things are for girls‘ and he walked away.
That really upset me.
Given the lack of support he received at home, it became clear why Jasper would want his first short film to be a source of comfort for young queer folk.
Summerdaze’s underlying charm arises from its ability to capture the essence of innocent youthful love.
Set against the beautifully scenic Jeju Island, the film stars 27-year old Alfred Sng and 17-year old David Eung as the film’s protagonists. The film may be void of any dialogue. But it still manages to depict first love in all of it’s awkward but simple splendour.
We wanted the film to really be about feelings.
We want the person watching it to really feel that first time they had feelings for someone.
Detractors may shake their heads at the film’s unrealistic dreamlike setting. But the film’s intention in playing to every gay man’s romantic fantasy is part of its appeal. That in a sense, it gives us all the kind of happily ever after we wished we had in our youth.
The film may be sponsored by The Authority. But the product placement is barely noticeable.
Cynics may cast doubt on The Authority’s intentions. But one need only examine The Authority’s history to realise that they have always been a staunch ally of the LGBTQ community.
This is best evidenced from when The Authority was tasked with designing the 2017 Pink Dot tee, where all proceeds were donated to Pink Dot.
When I ask Jasper what his ultimate aspiration for Summerdaze is, he stares at me blankly for a moment before replying:
I’ve never really thought about where I want the film to go.
I just hope that people who watch this film will relate to it and feel that what they are feeling is not wrong.
It’s a simplistic goal. One would say it’s almost altruistic. Because it’s clear as day that there is no money to be made from producing a film built on such a niche topic. And if I didn’t meet Jasper in person, I might not have bought his answers.
But after getting to know him, I do believe him. And I sense that this loss making venture is almost like an attempt to provide struggling youths with the kind of support he never received as a child. This is made even more remarkable considering the challenges his team faced in creating the film.
One obvious big challenge was money. There is honestly not much money to be made in retail and this film is a loss making venture.
Another challenge was casting the actors for the film. A lot of aspiring actors weren’t comfortable when we told them it was LGBT content.
There were so many times where we really wanted to give up on making the film.
Yes, not everyone will relate to Summerdaze. But content isn’t just about relatability.
Sometimes, people just want to feel good after watching a film. And Summerdaze accomplishes just that.
By taking on a lighter tone as compared to its darker predecessors, Summerdaze makes for a welcome addition to the canon of local gay cinema.
We really hope that when people watch this, they will get affected by the film in a good way.
This film would not have been possible without the vision of our director Martin Hong.
WATCH THE FULL VIDEO HERE:
Once again, Dear Straight People would like to thank Jasper Goh for sharing his story with us.
You can keep up to date with The Authority’s latest happenings by following them on Facebook or Instagram (@theauthority.co). You can also follow the actors on Instagram via @sealfred and @mr.davidd_.
Written by Sean Foo – www.instagram.com/mrseanfoo
This post was brought to you by The Authority.