‘Hold Your Peace’ Dallas premiere tonight at Angelika

Free movie? Yes, please

When Southern Methodist University alum Wade McDonald set out to make his debut feature film, the one thing he didn’t want to do was make a “typical” gay film: No naked boys as the selling point, no ridiculous gay-angst drama, no coming-out story. McDonald loves romantic comedies and wanted to make his own — just with men.

His plan worked. The result, Hold Your Peace, seems to have resonated with audiences.

Read the entire article here.

DEETS: Angelika Film Center, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane. Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. Free (passes at Buli or Skivvies). HoldYourPeaceMovie.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Far from Brokeback

With ‘Hold Your Peace,’ SMU grad Wade McDonald adds his name to a budding local community of queer filmmakers

SO HAPPY TOGETHER | Soon-to-be-marrieds Max (Tyler Brockington, above left) and Forrest (Blair Dickens) trigger mixed feelings from Max’s ex in the new film from local filmmaker Wade McDonald, on set right, opposite page.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

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HOLD YOUR PEACE
Angelika Film Center, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane. Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. Free (passes at Buli or Skivvies). HoldYourPeaceMovie.com.

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When Southern Methodist University alum Wade McDonald set out to make his debut feature film, the one thing he didn’t want to do was make a “typical” gay film: No naked boys as the selling point, no ridiculous gay-angst drama, no coming-out story. McDonald loves romantic comedies and wanted to make his own — just with men.

His plan worked. The result, Hold Your Peace, seems to have resonated with audiences.

“We finished in April 2011 and started applying to film festivals right away,” McDonald says. “We premiered in Philadelphia and it snowballed form there to San Diego and even a non-gay film fest in Rhode Island. We got a distributor before the film even premiered! It was crazy.”

Dallas audiences get their first chance to screen Hold Your Peace at the Angelika Film Center Mockingbird Station on Tuesday — just in time for Pride.

“It hadn’t shown here yet, but a friend of our audio editor, Terry Thompkins, was kind enough to pay for a screening,” he says. “I’m so excited it’ll show at the Angelika because I love it there.”

McDonald describes Peace as a meditation on relationships where shenanigans ensue after Aiden is asked to be the best man at his ex Max’s commitment ceremony. Only Aiden isn’t too keen on going alone, much less going at all.

What McDonald strived for was not a “gay movie” per se, but a film where characters happen to be gay. Anyone gay or straight can identify with the situation of unexpressed love and torch-bearing. At the same time, it was important to create a fun and easy watch that fairly portrayed queer men.

“It’s a very human and very honest film. This is a portrayal of normalcy,” he says. “I’ve had straight people tell me they didn’t think they would like this film. It plays a bit safer and I think more people can relate to it.”

McDonald funded Peace mostly on his own, making it on a $200,000 budget. By Hollywood standards, that’s nothing, but it’s high for indies. But he knew he had to make the production high quality. As a cinematographer by day, he had both the know-how and the equipment to shoot a film that looked polished. But he holds the entire cast and crew responsible for putting out a quality product. Don’t call him the film’s auteur — this was completely a team effort.

McDonald is intent on making his mark in queer cinema. Hollywood can take care of itself, he says, but he feels at home in Dallas. A burgeoning community of local gay filmmakers has left him with the sense there’s something special going on around here. He joins Israel Luna, Shawn Ewert, Robert Camina, Yen Tan and Mehul Shah as current or recent Dallasites forming a budding cinema community, turning Dallas into a Mecca of queer film. Hey, it could happen.

“I think it’s something that’s unique to Dallas,” he says. “We are starting something here and if we begin producing enough content here then we can create an industry. Something that can let people quit their day jobs to work on something they love.”

McDonald has no intention of moving to Los Angeles or New York for his movie career. He grew up here, went to SMU for school and he now lives with his partner in Plano. McDonald is the local boy done good, but who hasn’t moved away. He prefers to keep it that way.

“I’m proof positive you can do it in Dallas,” he says. “I could move to L.A., but my personality doesn’t mesh there and that’s fine. It’s inexpensive to shoot here, we have a great support system and I’d love to continue making films right here.”

For now, McDonald is gearing up for his initial Dallas screening. He showed it to cast and crew already, but now the general public gets to see his finished product. For any filmmaker, putting his work out there is nerve-racking, but McDonald and team already see the film taking on a life of its own.

“It’s your baby in a way and you don’t wanna be told you have an ugly baby,” he says. “I’m very proud of what we accomplished with Hold Your Peace and everyone worked their butt off. We’re not setting out to make great literature, just a film that’s fun to watch. You’re just supposed to enjoy it.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Cut to the Chase

ON AIR  |  Chase Brooks’ ‘Reckless After Dark’ is the only show on Fish Bowl Network that brings a gay voice to the Internet air waves.

Local 19-year-old radio jock Chase Brooks is making his play to become the gay Howard Stern

RICH LOPEZ  |  Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Never underestimate the power of youth — especially when backed by a microphone.

Chase Brooks proves that in spades. At 19, the Weatherford native is already a published author … and that’s not even his primary interest. Brooks isn’t going to wait for his moment to come, he’s creating it with his second (yes, second) radio talk show, Reckless After Dark.

“I’m the type of personality that likes controversy. I’ll play with the line but, you know, I may not cross it,” he says.

Brooks mixes the charm of youth with eagerness and expectation in his voice, but he also has an unexpected savvy. He knows the right answers to give without sounding fake, but his wide-eyed outlook quickly reminds listeners that he’s no veteran with pre-packaged ideas and sound bites. Radio has become Brooks’ passion, born out of a sort of happy accident.

“This just kinda fell into my lap,” he says. “After my last book came out, I was interviewed on the radio and I fell in love with the surroundings. That was on QNation, this all-gay online radio network and then I heard they were looking for new shows.”

Let’s back up a second.

Brooks self-published his first novel, Hello, My Love, while still a senior at Weatherford High School. Soon after his final semester, he published the sequel, Hello, My Love 2: First Love Deserves a Second Chance — that hit the streets the day of his graduation ceremony. He calls the two books “young adult romantic comedies geared toward straight readers,” but his third book, the nonfiction compendium Reckless, takes on a darker tone dealing with gay issues.

“The book is compilation of essays,” he says. “I came through a lot of drama with relationships and family and what I learned from each one. I think the book really says ‘It does get better.’”

He debuted Reckless After Dark on QNation, but last January, he jumped his show over to the Fish Bowl Network, started by local radio veteran Sammi G. There, Brooks could take advantage of the learning process because the network operated more as a radio station. Before long, he was doing it all out of his laptop and prerecording shows.

The diversity of the lineup is also intriguing. According to its web site, the network airs 67 shows; of those, Reckless is its only LGBT program.

“We say the show is straight-friendly but gay-friendlier,” Brooks laughs. “We are the wackiest show out there on the network and we’ll talk about anything from sex to stuff going on in community and we get a lot of great guests. A lot of people seem to enjoy listening to us.”

For radio shows, you almost expect to hear the term “wacky” bandied about endlessly, and Reckless After Dark is no exception. Brooks proudly recounts tales of radio bits involving monster dildos, phone sex and guys calling in only to get punk’d on the air — college humor-type stuff. But where Brooks shines the most is his ability to snag high-profile guests. For an online gay radio show hosted by a teenager, Brooks’ guests have included the likes of A List-er Reichen Lehmkuhl, Tupperware drag queen Dixie Longate, activist icon Judy Shepard and queermedian fave Margaret Cho — not too shabby for a team of youngsters who include publicist Malcolm Lewis and co-hosts Auntie J and Cat Michaels.

Brooks attributes the appeal of his show to such guests to his basic professionalism and transparency — guests know full on what they are getting into.

“I think a lot of them say yes because I give them rundown of what the show is and they love that,” he says. “They seem to like the ‘out there’ shows because in online radio you can do a lot more than on regular AM-FM stations. That’s liberating for them and me. Plus, I think it benefits their careers.”

Where Reckless is inherently silly with fun, gay banter frequent with the guests, Brooks is serious about what he’s created and has the wherewithal to envision a bigger picture — hence his move to Fish Bowl.

“Moving there was going to be a greater opportunity for the show because the network isn’t all gay,” he says. “In that environment, you don’t stand out. Fish Bowl has all types of shows but we’re the only gay one. I think that’s an honor and challenge to draw people in. They may not all agree with the lifestyle, but maybe I can educate or warm them up to the idea of being an ally.”

For Sammi G., Brooks brought the perfect opportunity to expand Fish Bowl’s already diverse roster. “He brings gay issues to the forefront here,” she says, “and he’s got all the characteristics to be great. Age wasn’t an issue, because I was 17 when I started in radio 30 years ago.”

Brooks’ dream is to rise to the Kidd Kraddick/Howard Stern level of influence, but specifically for the gay community. There isn’t that one predominantly gay radio variety show with that gay host with that major presence, especially in FM or AM (although, gays may not really listen to AM for anything). Whether that eventually happens, he’s intent on making his impression — whether to his usual local 20something gay audience or to fans across the sea.

“The listeners definitely motivate me and knowing that I made a difference or even laugh is a good feeling,” he says. “If opportunities came up in regular radio, I’d consider it, but I love how anyone from anywhere can listen to me now. I’ve heard from fans in Canada and Greece. This isn’t my job, this is my lifestyle, my passion. I would do this for free if I had to.”

Reckless After Dark streams Thursdays, 5–7 p.m. on FishBowlRadioNetwork.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 14, 2011

—  John Wright