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Permission – a film by Brian Crano

Written by gaytourism

In Permission, filmmaker Brian Crano gives us a sexy and romantic comedy with plenty of thought-provoking “what would I do?” moments.

The story focuses on two couples — one gay, and one straight.

The cast includes:

  • Rebecca Hall
  • Dan Stevens
  • David Joseph Craig
  • Morgan Spector

In real life, Morgan Spector and Rebecca Hall are married, while David Joseph Craig is married to Brian Crano.

Ahead of the film’s opening, I spoke with filmmaker Brian Crano for a behind-the-scenes look at Permission.

What was the inspiration for this story?

When I was about to turn thirty, I realized there was a conversation I was having more and more with my friends. At the time we were all in relationships with people we loved, but we’re also a bunch of godless children of divorce, who understand statistics. Statistically most relationships end. So the impulse came from that contradiction. Knowing you like something and questioning if it’s going to end.

Any personal connections to the choices that these characters are making?

I relate very much to all of the characters. I don’t think the choices any of them are making throughout the film are aberrant. I think they’re reactions to being put into different situations. I love in drama when people make bad decisions. Probably because it makes me feel a little better about my own. But specifically, I probably most related to wanting a child and being terrified about being a parent. It’s an awesome responsibility.

What was the production process like?

Any production is challenging. You’re basically forming a company with 150 employees that exists for a few months and then dissolves when you wrap. Also, there is never enough time. We were lucky to have an amazing crew that broke their backs to give the movie the style, polish and production value it has. The writing process really extends from the completion of the first draft through to the final cut, you’re always working on the script.

There’s some great locations used in the film, were they difficult to find?

Yes, very. It was an all-hands-on-deck situation because my standards are very high for locations. We wanted the film to have a heightened visual aesthetic, so every location had to be perfect. Lydia’s apartment was the most challenging, as it had to be so over the top wealthy — and typically people in possession of those kinds of properties don’t want a film crew stomping through their homes.

At what stage did Rebecca Hall and Morgan Spector become involved in the project?

Rebecca became involved very early. She’s one of my oldest friends and often reads my work and gives notes. When she read Permission, she was really excited by it and wanted to get involved which was tremendous as she is — apart from being an amazing person — a totally mind-blowing actress.

Morgan, who is married to Rebecca, is also a true talent. He has this way of really challenging people, really listening and asking tough questions. I thought that was exactly what the character of Reece required. So it was a very organic choice really.

What was that dynamic like — having two couples so intrinsically involved in the creation of the film?

It was really pleasant. The joy of this job is being able to work with people you love and admire. So working all together was a pleasure. You get the opportunity to really push each other and communicate more quickly because you have a short hand, which is great. Plus we live about ten minutes from each other so often we would walk to work together.

Was it always intended that David would play Hale?

Yes. David is a wonderful actor. We love working together so I wrote the role for him. Obviously being married, I’m hyperaware of his skill set and a huge fan. I thought viewers would relate to him very easily and relate to his character’s desire to expand his family.

What was the casting process for the other roles?

It’s always great when there’s such a strong response from actors to a script. That lets you know you’re moving in the right direction. Dan Stevens is such a talent and is so beloved, I thought it would be amazing to put him in a role that we haven’t seen him play before. He’s also so much fun to watch under pressure. Francois Arnaud was a great choice as a foil to Dan, as I think he provides a very credible romantic rival for Rebecca’s character. Finally Gina Gershon is living legend and it was a thrill to get to work with her.

Were you tempted to somehow give the four central characters a more conventional happy ending?

Initially, during the writing process I was. However, it didn’t feel honest. I’m focused on what gives the viewer of the film the most impactful experience. So when I found the ending that provided that, we went in that direction.

What does the film say about the relationships of gay men in places like New York City?

I hope what the film does is dramatize our ordinary desire and conflict. So much film featuring gay characters is centered around shame or the coming out experience — which is totally valid. But I wanted to look at a different part of gay life — family building, communicating with your partner, changing as you grow.

What do you hope that people feel when watching Permission?

Honestly, I hope after viewing that they have a conversation with their partner and relate the film to their own life experience.

What’s next for Brian Crano?

I want to write some television and have a baby.

Permission opens on 9 February 2018

Read more from Gareth Johnson