Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Daisy 3 Pictures
For last year's closing night, FilmOut San Diego presented the world premiere of James Vasquez' homegrown film "Ready? Okay!" This San Diego-based charmer concerns a young boy named Josh who wants to join his school's cheer squad. The premise for the film came from Vasquez' own failed attempt to participate in his Catholic School's pep rally when he was in second grade. In the film, a nun tells young Josh that he will "never" be on the cheer squad. Josh replies that "never is a strong word," and breaks into a cheer. There's no keeping this boy down.
San Diego native Vasquez says he already owes a debt of gratitude to FilmOut. In 2007 Vasquez came to FilmOut audiences to ask for help in securing shooting locations and accommodations for out of town talent.
"We got an overwhelming amount of response from the community," says Vasquez, "We shot the movie on a shoe-string budget, so the donations of housing, locations, food, and props really helped make the movie possible." Vasquez also credits the San Diego Film Commission's Kathy McCurdy for lining up film permits, helping with locations, and offering advice.
Vasquez describes his film as "an important, quiet and poignant little film told from a perspective we haven't seen much of. At one point Josh says, ‘I'm not trying to break the rules, I'm trying to change them.' There's something really wonderful about the belief this little boy has in himself and the world."
The film's success rests heavily on the young actor playing the buoyant Josh. Vasquez says they auditioned about fifty boys before selecting Lurie Poston, who impressed them with his cheering abilities. "Whoever we cast as Josh had to be able to cheer and have no hesitation about it," says Vasquez, "Lurie blew us away with his read of the scenes. But his cheer sealed the deal. Lurie Poston is perfect as Josh. The role was not written for him, but he certainly makes you feel like it was."
But Vasquez did write roles for two other actors in the film, Carrie Preston and her brother John Preston who play Josh's mother and uncle respectively.
"James wrote the roles for the two of us," says Carrie Preston, "so it was really wonderful being with John on screen. We have a built in history so it was incredibly easy and satisfying to play those scenes."
Preston, who went to Julliard with Vasquez and serves as one of the film's producers, also got to work with her husband Michael Emerson (of Lost) who plays Josh's sympathetic gay neighbor. The genuine sense of family on the set spills over onto the screen, creating a warm and intimate film.
"We set out to make a true, subtle, funny film about how a mother struggles with the possibility that her son may grow up to be gay," says Carrie Preston, "And I feel like we accomplished that."
"Ready? Okay!" was one of three San Diego films screening at the 2008 FilmOut. Festival programmer Michael McQuiggan said, "We are very excited to have LGBT San Diegan filmmakers represented every year at FilmOut San Diego." Now a wider audience will have a chance to catch this charmer on DVD.