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Two Naked Gay Guys

Fri 15 Apr 2016 In: Entertainment View at Wayback View at NDHA

Two Naked Gay Guys is a new LGBTI comedy web-series, following two gay guys who meet up for a one-off no strings attacked hook-up, only to find that one time isn’t enough. Lucas, a charmer who likes to keep things casual, begins to question his views on intimacy while the more shy Dean finds himself trying to work out what he wants. We chat to the brains behind the series, filmmaker Conan McKegg.   Web series were Conan's gateway into filmmaking, however it was a desire to undertake a more polished project that lead him to create Two Naked Gay Guys. “I looked at shows that were being made and there were two series that initially inspired me,” says Conan. “Steam Room Stories and Liquid Lunch.” “These both had very simple set ups - one is topless guys in a steam room talking and the other is two blokes in a pub talking. So my initial idea was two guys lying in bed talking after they had just had sex. From that germ of an idea I realised I wanted to tell a much bigger and more complex story…" First and foremost a writer, Conan used to write freelance for Canadian role playing game companies. “Not computer games either but classic pen and paper like Dungeons and Dragons,” he says. Finding inspiration in Wellington, Conan says he always had a passion for television and film but never really attempted to make anything as writing dialogue was a completely different ballgame to writing prose. “After directing a friend's 48 hour film for some fun, I realised I wanted to do more film work. So I wrote a script - The Winding City - which a group of friends really liked, and we shot four episodes. It was a great way to learn the technical aspects of film making. After my second series - Urban Numina - I applied for a writing workshop with the Emerging Artists Trust that was being run by Steve Barr. It was there that I discovered the contrary to my fears, writing fun and realistic dialogue was one of my biggest strengths.” Since then he has moved on to co-produce a feature film with Chaz Harris - one of the authors of the Promised Land children's book and creator of End of Term - which the pair have just submitted to the NZ International Film Festival for consideration. Dedicated to his craft, Conan also helps facilitate a writer and actor workshop called Sandpit where a group of writers present scripts for actors to perform and then they provide each other with notes. With the first episode of Two Naked Gay Guys shot, Conan says it was probably the best that he’s ever worked on. “We had a great camaraderie on set, with everyone keen to produce a fun, cheeky, but also emotionally honest series.”   He describes the series as like a ripple in a pond. “Each episode it gets a little bigger, showing us how when we start relationships we're not just bringing one new person into our lives, but making two worlds effectively cross over into each other. “Viewers will see each episode gradually increase their view of the world that Lucas and Dean exist in. As we go on we'll follow how Lucas and Dean's story impacts the stories of the other characters. Future episodes include Two Naked Lesbians, Two Naked Straight Girls (Which is my homage to Steamroom Stories) and Two Semi-Naked Straight Blokes. “My hope is that by the time we reach the final episode we'll be able to show this rich tapestry of people and relationships to show how the idea we are isolated from each other is more of an illusion than our connections.” Finding Lucas and Dean was a long process reveals Conan. “It was vital that we had two actors with great chemistry that would make you want to keep watching them,” he says. “Originally we had two straight actors we were considering but they couldn't bring the level of intimacy I wanted from the leads. So we hoped to find two gay actors as we felt that they would be more comfortable playing out the intimate scenes in the series. As it turned out we ended up with two straight actors anyway, but they had amazing chemistry. “I knew Riley from EAT's workshops, and he's an incredibly talented actor and a lovely guy. He was suggested to us by his agent and I genuinely thought it wouldn't be his thing. But he was excited by the script and the challenge. Matt we picked out from an agent's site and asked if he wanted to audition. It wasn't until later that I realised he was a personal trainer at my gym and had been the guy my PT had been suggesting I audition. Then to complete the string of coincidence, it turned out Matt had trained in acting with Riley's dad, Jed Brophy, and that both Riley and Matt had gone to school together. The Wellington effect strikes again. (An inside joke with a friend of mine about how closely connected everyone in Wellington is.) “It is this existing friendship and comfort with each other that I think helps Matt and Riley deliver such convincing performances. They are both total professionals and great guys to work with.” So with a title like ‘Two Naked Gay Guys’ can we expect some NSFW content in this new web series? Conan reveals the first episode “has a very racy opening shot and later we have Lucas' standing bare bottomed in the middle of the scene.” “So it will be NSFW in so far as we will have nudity in the show. Although no full frontal nudity, as I feel that may distract from the feel of the show. As far as sex goes, the closest we'll get is the opening scene of episode one and a particular shot in episode four. "We want the show to be sexy, but not soft-core. It's a comedy first and foremost. With a little drama to spice things up." Making the series, Conan says he has learned a lot about how different people perceive love and relationships. “Also about how fluid and complex sexuality really is," he says. “As the series progresses I have asexual and transgender characters who are introduced to explore how love, sex, and relationships can have different definitions for different people. But also how we all face similar challenges and that no matter how many partners are in the relationship, or if the relationship is romantic but not sexual, we tend to face those challenges with similar strategies.” “I think most queer relationships are similar to heterosexual ones in the challenges they face. But not all queer relationships. I think one area that all queer relationships are different is in how they can be expressed in public. While we are a more open society now, many queer people still feel like they are always on display. That every eye is watching them and judging them. Even when this is not really the case. It's a hold over from an earlier time, and often you see it more in older relationships. “One of the things I hope our series will do is help make people feel more comfortable with just being open about their relationships. One of my rules while writing has been to be sex positive and non-judgemental. We have a poly relationship in the series, and another character who sleeps with a lot of different partners. At no point do we treat these characters as a spectacle or shame them for not being like "normal" relationships. Because what is normal? I bet most "normal" relationships have something unusual about them. I want to show that what's important is that people look after themselves and each other. “That’s probably the biggest thing I think queer relationships teach us. That love, sex, and romance have many different facets.” Conan is currently crowdfunding to help with the costs involved with making the series. "We are asking for $8500 to complete the episodes we have already shot. But to really make the show we want to, we'll need about $40,000 - $50,000 to complete the first season," he says. " I felt asking for $8500 up front and making the rest a series of stretch goals made for a less intimidating request. $50,000 allows us to shoot eleven episodes, including two set in Dunedin. "While the series does keep returning to Lucas and Dean, we have an ensemble approach to the greater season narrative that I hope to include all manner of queer leads." To support the project, check out their Kickstarter campaign. Sarah Murphy - 15th April 2016    

Credit: Sarah Murphy

First published: Friday, 15th April 2016 - 4:13pm

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