Scab Q & A
We recently posted about an upcoming gay flick that had gotten our attention. We were intrigued by Scab and the films premise seems smart. We wanted more though, so we sat down with Scab director Thomas Jason Davis (pictured) to discuss the film, Christina Ricci and blood suckers. Not necessarily in that order.
NYCB: Hi Mr. Davis thanks for taking the time to answer our question.
TJD: Hey, Pablo! Feel free to call me Jason. Given that you’re forced to ask about scabs, at least you should be able to do it on a first-name basis. And thanks for your questions and time; I’m excited to get the word out about our little flick.
NYCB: Right! So, why the name Scab?
NYCB: Right! So, why the name Scab?
TJD: "Without revealing too much (a guy’s gotta maintain some mystery), Scab refers to the very biological transformation my vampires undergo. I didn’t approach vampirism as a “curse.” I thought it more interesting to approach vampirism as a biological change, like puberty. And, like puberty, becoming a vampire is no less traumatic. And no less morally ambiguous.
NYCB: You could also related that to coming out as well. Why did you want to make this film?
TJD: The vampires and the story came first. Then came the characters. I became fascinated with the characters. I became fascinated with their inability to relate to others, their inability to relate to themselves, and the pathological fear that drives this disconnect. This is what caused Scab to become less a slasher-flick, and more a character-study. It’s the best kind of set-up (and my favorite type of set-up): fucked-up people in fucked-up situations.
I also wanted to make Scab (as did producers Arik Ben Treston and Randall Walk) because it’s a queer movie. It’s a movie about guys who happen to be gay; it’s not a movie about being gay. As gay filmmakers, we’re looking toward a shift in focus for queer cinema. It’s already happening with sub-genres such as gay-slasher, gay-mystery, and gay-action. I’m looking forward to stories that hinge on story and character, not simply the character’s sexual orientation.
NYCB: The horror movie genre has a big fan base. Is there anything that you included in the movie that pays homage to classic horror films?
TJD: Scab falls under the large umbrella of horror films that focus on misunderstood monsters. From Frankenstein to The Fly, Scab definitely owes a debt to those films. I didn’t go out of my way to reference any particular scene from another movie, but the mood of several films certainly fed my writing. Two films, in particular, that Scab echoes is Ginger Snaps and May. Both have iconic misanthropes, both focus on the horror within the characters as much as the horror without, and both wallow in their sardonic tone and a wickedly dark sense of humor. Scab definitely does this.
NYCB: Because of the genre of film you make, casting your films with big names may be a bit difficult, who would be some of your dream actors to work with?
TJD: Are you saying big-name male actors don’t want their chance at a gratuitous shower scene in a queer horror flick? Then I’ll just have to catch ‘em on their way up (or their way down, I’m not picky).
Who are my dream actors? I’ve long had a guy-crush on Christina Ricci. She’s smart, beautiful, and frighteningly good at what she does. I’d love to put those big saucer-sized eyes to work in any number of emotionally-devastating scenes. Jake Gyllenhaal of course. He’s hot, he’s got this great affable, everyguy quality about him, and—oh, yeah—his acting’s not that bad, either. The list is endless, obviously— Peter Sarsgaard, Lauren Ambrose, Jesse Bradford, Tilda Swinton. I’d be honored to work any number of actors in the indie scene today.
We currently have a few productions in the queue: Scary Mary, a gay supernatural-thriller, and Wading in Silverlake, a gay mad-cap farce. Both are much less subversive than Scab. And both have a much better chance of piquing the interest of more established actors. I’m definitely not writing any of the dream actors off my list. And I’m also not discounting the fact that there are thousands of as-yet-undiscovered and equally-talented actors out there. The insanely talented cast of Scab proves that.
NYCB: Yes, Jake is dreamy, isn't he? (Sigh....pause..) So, then do you think that there is a market for gay horror in mainstream Hollywood ?
TJD: Definitely. As long as you rein in the male nudity and gay sex (though a slew of mainstream horror films push the homoerotic envelope), I think a mainstream audience would be fine with a gay man or lesbian in the lead of a horror film. And I think it’s about time we were. I’m tired of being the comic relief, earmarked as an early victim, or having our sexuality become a third-act plot twist. I’m ready for one of us to be the Final Girl/Guy.
NYCB: Yeah, I agree. The gay sided kick thing is tired. Given your film’s subject matter, is there a pressure to portray certain types of gay characters.
TJD: Because queer cinema still seems to be in its proving-ground, there’s a definite pressure to present positive representations of gay life. That’s not Scab, though. Scab is fucked-up people in fucked-up situations and the characters’ eventual struggles with that. Queer cinema doesn’t need to be positive; it just needs to be honest.
A tendency in all filmmaking is to fall back on established caricatures. For gays: The ditzy twink, the flaky tweaker, the bitchy queen, or self-absorbed gym-bunny. The pressure for all filmmakers is to take the caricatures and find the characters. That’s the biggest pressure. And I don’t think most filmmakers ever stop asking themselves if they’ve actually accomplished the goal.
NYCB: What about a script turns you on enough to turn it into a film?
TJD: It has to be emotionally honest. And it has to have a sense of humor. It doesn’t have to be stomach-cramping funny, but there must be a touch of the absurd or a deep abiding grotesqueness. Secrets and dysfunction interest me. I want to see what’s beneath a person’s mask, what they’re like when they think no one’s looking. I want that in my movies. I need that in a movie if I’m devoting months on end to the project.
NYCB: Is there any subject matter that would be taboo for even you?
TJD: No. Never. Bring it on. Taboos (or at least the idea of taboos) rock. A little audience discomfort never hurt anyone. It makes an audience think. It makes them gasp. And even if it makes them mad, it still makes them react. I’d take a movie that pushes my buttons over one that bores me. Boredom should be a cardinal sin.
NYCB: Boredom and acid wash jeans, I think. How has the gay internet/blog community embraced your work?
TJD: We’re just gearing up (our World Premiere is next week) and the initial reaction has been positive. We’re working to get the word out about Scab. We have an interesting movie, this queer vampire drama that is less horror and more character-study, and now we have to find our audience. They’re out there. They just don’t know it yet.
NYCB: Is Scab being released in time for Halloween? What are the release dates?
JD: Scab’s World Premiere is October 21st at the Reel Affirmations Film Festival in Washington D.C. After that, it’ll be at the Reeling Film Festival in Chicago on November 6th. Future film festivals are in the works. And stay posted, we’re in talks with several distributors and the release date will be announced soon.
NYCB: Wow, well definitely keep us posted and thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you all the best with Scab. Thanks again.
Watch the Scab Trailer here.