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An urban gay love story

Written by gaytourism

Sebastian – a film by James Fanizza. Image courtesy of Wolfe Video

In his latest film, James Fanizza gives us the story of Sebastian (Alex House). Sebastian arrives in Toronto on a one-week visit and meets his cousin’s boyfriend, Alex (James Fanizza). Instant attraction leads Alex to question his rocky relationship with his boyfriend. As he and Sebastian decide to explore their mutual attraction, they connect emotionally, forcing Alex to confront his conflicted desires.

I spoke with writer/director James Fanizza for a behind-the-scenes look at the film.

What was your inspiration for this story? 

I wanted to create a modern love story that answers the questions — How do we make a connection with someone in a world of quick conveniences, where everything is right at our fingertips, but yet we’re increasingly isolated from each other? How do we make a choice when there’s so much to choose from? How do we know when we’ve met the right person, if we can meet thousands of people right from our phones?

Was it always your intention to make Sebastian into a feature film?

When I first made Sebastian as a short film, I had no idea it would resonate and connect with so many people around the world. It wasn’t my intention to make it into a feature but, when I had such a positive reaction to it, I knew that there was a much larger story that needed to be told.

What was the production process like? 

Sebastian took about eight months to write and produce, and we filmed the movie in exactly 13 days. It was hectic and stressful, but it was also sort of magical.

It was a hustle to organise the shoot, but the stars aligned and everything came together at the last minute, exactly as planned.

Was it difficult to raise funding? 

Very difficult. In fact, the film was entirely self-funded. After trying for a long time to get feature film funding, I thought to myself — If I don’t put my money, literally, where my mouth is and believe in myself, how can I expect anyone else to do the same?.

So, I saved every penny I had, and hustled to put the film together with a limited budget.

How did Brian McCook become involved in the production? 

When I was ready to cast the role of Xenia — our main character’s drag queen best friend — I had always dreamed of working with Brian’s drag persona Katya. I didn’t know him personally, or anyone in his circle, so I found out who his agent was and just called them.

After pitching the idea, his agent agreed to read the script. He sent it to Brian, who ultimately agreed to sign-on to the project.

What are some of the challenges in directing and acting? 

It’s definitely a challenge to direct and act in a feature film. As a director, right up until the moment that ‘action!’ is called, there are tweaks and decisions to be made and you’re being pulled in a million different directions. So, I had to set up the shot and make sure everything was how I wanted, then take a deep breath and step into my ‘actor’ brain in order to be in the moment for the scene. It was definitely a challenge.

Was it important that the character of Sebastian was Latino? 

It was always very important for me that Sebastian was ethnically diverse. I speak Spanish fluently, and I wanted the character Sebastian to represent a completely different culture and language from Alex’s character.

I truly believe that there isn’t enough diversity on screen, and I wanted to create a film that showcases diversity but doesn’t stereotype anyone.

What do you hope that people feel when watching Sebastian? 

I hope that it connects with their innate sense of hope. I want them to see that we’re all damaged in some way, and we can either let that define us and stop us from ever moving forward, or we can overcome it and just say yes.

Sebastian will be released worldwide 6 February 2018 via Wolfe on DVD and VOD, and across all digital platforms including iTunes, Vimeo On Demand and

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