Getting It is now available on Vimeo in the United Kingdom and Amazon Prime.
Let’s face it, the only thing more complicated than love is the self-assembly instructions on a flat-pack piece of furniture. In fact, in both respects, we often give up or bypass the tricky bits and hope the result will work out just fine. Some breeze through many loves until they find the right person, while others find love a constant struggle as they decide they are better off alone.
For LGBTQ+ people, finding that special someone can be even more challenging as you navigate a heterosexual world, looking for that one in a million person who fits you like a glove. While at the same time, you find yourself surrounded by a community where your age is a ticking clock of destruction, especially within gay male circles. These themes find a voice in writer-director Tom Heard’s new film Getting It, with a humorous, light and yet deeply touching story of love, companionship and belonging.
Jaime (Tom Heard) is a seasoned and talented cabaret singer, who lives on his own in a small apartment complex, his life on hold as he dwells on a recent and challenging split with his partner. But Jaime is also blind to the fact that his selfishness had a clear role to play in the relationship’s eventual demise as he buries his head and attempts to move on.
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Meanwhile, next door, Ben (Donato De Luca) is a young aspiring poet whose mother has recently passed away. Here Ben’s grief is a perpetual barrier to his progress as his brother blames him for their mum’s passing. However, on a chance encounter orchestrated by a fellow resident. Ben and Jamie find themselves briefly introduced. But can a chance encounter help both men to heal? And can a new love help Jamie overcome his self-destructive behaviour in relationships?
Part road movie, and part rom-com, Getting It provides a delightful snapshot of the brief moments where love can find a route through alienation and despair. While at the same time focusing on the barriers we all erect to protect our hearts from being hurt., whether in the form of age, sex, experience or a fear of eventually being rejected. But, despite the big underlying themes, Getting It remains both light, fresh and thoroughly engaging, its narrative wrapped in a poetic conversation on love.
We caught up with writer, director and star Tom Heard to talk about all things life, love and LGBTQ+ representation.
Hi Tom, firstly, congratulations on Getting It; it’s always great to see new independent LGBTQ films reach the screen. This is your first movie sitting in the director’s chair and your first as lead writer and producer. How long did it take you to write Getting It? And what were some of the challenges you encountered in getting the project off the ground?
Hi, Neil! It’s great to talk with you! From fade in to fade out, the initial writing of, Getting It took about 7-8 months. There was a lot of fine-tuning afterwards. For an indie film at this level, the biggest challenge is raising the money. As a first time filmmaker with no work to show, it took a lot of brainstorming until I found a way to get the cameras rolling.
Making any movie on a tight budget is a real challenge. Were there any sacrifices you needed to make in bringing your original screenplay to the screen?
Well, luckily Getting It is a character-driven film with an emphasis on relationships without much call for visual effects or high-speed car chases! So there wasn’t much we weren’t able to do to tell the story.
You also play the role of Jamie in the film; was that always your intention?
Yes. My two initial goals were to make the movie I’d like to see and to write a role I’d like to play. As a filmgoer, I want to see stories about people in complicated relationships and the dynamic between them. As an actor, I want to play those characters, feel those emotions and convey them as truthfully as I can.
During my introduction, I hinted at the ageism that often surrounds gay male experience, with many men mistakenly feeling past their prime by midlife. Do you think ageism within the gay community hinders many men from finding their soul mate and increases loneliness?
I feel that all relationships, friends or lovers, regardless of sex or identity, become more complicated with age. The world kind of conspires to throw young people together with school and social activities, but as life goes on, work and responsibilities become more demanding, and there’s much less time and opportunity to meet new people. That’s one reason I am very careful with the friendships I’ve had all my life. These people are golden to me! There are all kinds of loneliness. People can be lonely in a relationship. The key to me is finding enough within yourself to sustain you.
Donato De Luca beautifully portrays the character of Ben, his performance capturing the enthusiasm of youth. While at the same time exuding wisdom and confidence beyond his physical years due to his experience. Can you tell us how you came to cast Donato in the role of Ben?
Donato answered my casting call – I was also the casting director – came in and nailed it! He just got who Ben was and brought so much of himself to the role. I knew I had found my guy!
Ben is often the balanced and mature adult in the film, while Jamie can be self-centred and aloof. Was it your intention to subvert and flip the stereotypes usually attached to younger and older men in the personalities of Ben and Jamie?
That’s a great observation! I needed Ben to be more grounded, open and generous of heart so he could hold up a mirror to Jamie. The fact that Ben has these attributes at a younger age makes Jamie look ridiculous by comparison. Ben knows what he wants and is so authentic that Jamie is not able to ignore or dismiss him as he initially tries to do.
Some of my favourite scenes occur during the camping trip, as Ben and Jamie slowly realise they have a special bond. What makes these scenes so engaging is the on-screen dynamic between yourself and Donato. How long did you spend together fleshing out the characters and their relationship before filming?
We talked a lot about where these characters are as the film begins and how their interaction changes them both. One scene, in particular, the campfire scene, is very emotional and is a catalyst in Jamie’s and Ben’s relationship, so we took extra time to explore it. When we put it on its feet we were able to find a rhythm and a way for the two men to reach out to each other. That was a fun night when we shot that scene! We were in a cow pasture where it had just rained and everyone was dodging cow patties and puddles! But the whole company looked at it as an adventure and there was great camaraderie!
Poetry and song sit at the heart of Jamie and Ben’s journey together. Do you have a favourite poem that inspires your creative writing?
I had dabbled with some attempts with poetry with very simple rhyme schemes. When I showed one to my friend Lana Dieterich, who plays Estelle in the movie, she suggested I try something more challenging like an Italian sonnet. When I did, her positive reaction and support were one of the factors that inspired me to sit down and write a film. That is the sonnet Ben reads to his sister-in-law, Alicia, in the movie!
So often in cinema, gay male relationships are wrapped in inner turmoil, fear, or disaster. How important was it for you that Getting It portrayed gay male relationships through a lens of positivity, tenderness and hope?
That was one of my main objectives for, Getting It. I wanted a love story between two men where being gay isn’t the issue – no tortured coming out or seeking approval by family or society. Those films are important and have served a great purpose over the years. But I also want to see films that portray LGBTQ people just living their lives and facing the challenges that everyone faces. Luckily we’re seeing more films like that today.
LGBTQ representation in film has come a long way in the past twenty years. Can you tell us about the LGBTQ films that have inspired you as a writer, actor and director?
There are so many LGBTQ films that I love. Parting Glances is a wonderful film thanks to the innovative and brilliant, Bill Sherwood. He is certainly an inspiration. Jonah Markowitz’s Shelter was very helpful to me in constructing a love story between two men. It is also a very enjoyable film. And of course, Call Me By Your Name blew the lid off. That is gorgeous, lyrical filmmaking. Luca Guadagnino is a genius and I admire him greatly.
Finally, what’s next for you, Tom? And could we see a continuation of Ben and Jamie’s journey together anytime soon?
Thank you for wanting to see more of Jamie and Ben! It would be interesting to catch up with them in a few years to see how they develop as a couple and as individuals and what new challenges they may be facing. I am currently writing a new film called, Comeback. It is a love story for two men in the world of show business. I’m excited about the premise and the relationship these two men will have! I’m hoping to go into production by this time next year!
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me, Tom. I look forward to seeing Comeback in the future. It’s also worth saying again that Getting It is available here in the UK on Vimeo and Amazon Prime.
Director: Tom Heard