Ten years ago, Nick Corporon moved from a Missouri farming town of 4,000 to pursue his filmmaking dream in Southern California.
Corporon poured his childhood experience into short films, focusing on stories about young gay people struggling with the same feelings of isolation he felt.
But he doesn’t want that to define his films — he wants to tell stories that resonate beyond the LGBTQ community.
“I’m very happy that my films have played at a zillion LGBT film festivals, but I’m also happy when they play in other festivals as well, because it gives an audience that’s not just an LGBT audience a chance to see characters who happen to be gay going through life’s experiences and the human condition,” he said.
The film follows businessman Jonathan (Tuc Watkins) as he hires a prostitute (Devon Graye) to accompany him on a trip to the Grand Canyon with one requirement: that the prostitute role-play as and answer to “Brandon.” The two embark on a road trip of manipulation and suspense, haunted by a memory.
Corporon grew up in Lexington, Mo., and started his film career with short films. After finding some success, Corporon and his creative team decided it was time to create a feature film — cheaply. Rather than spend four years “chasing money” for a more substantial film, he decided to raise money for a small feature film instead.
After pitching to investors starting in 2013, Corporon raised more than $80,000 through Kickstarter. After festival organizers heard of the idea of the film, they allowed Corporon to pitch the film at the 2014 Kansas City LGBT Film Festival through a backer’s audition — where he presented a sizzle reel to potential investors. Corporon also showed his short film “Barbie Boy” at that festival.
From there, Corporon set about making the film. He wanted to tell a story of isolation, love and loss, inspired by his own experience growing up in a farming community.
“I love love stories, but I also love stories where things don’t work out,” he said. “It’s about two characters looking for a connection.”
Corporon’s star, Tuc Watkins, grew up in Mission and Prairie Village. Watkins, who had previously worked on soap operas, said he enjoyed the opportunity to develop a character over just 90 minutes.
Because there are only two actors at the center of “Retake,” “It actually felt like shooting a piece of theater just because it was so character-driven,” Watkins said. “It’s the most honest, stripped-down, authentic performance I’ve given.”
Before its appearance at the KC festival, “Retake” will have its world premiere Tuesday, June 21, in at the Frameline Festival in San Francisco. That festival is another LGBTQ showcase, but Corporon wants his film to affect more than just one community — to show the audience “we’re all cut from the same cloth.”
“Retake” will screen at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 23, at the Tivoli Cinemas in Westport. Corporon and Watkins will attend the screening. Because of their roots, this seemed like the perfect place to bring their new film, Watkins said.
“Kansas City has become such a progressive, interesting, artistic place to be that, 25 years ago, I didn’t think it would be,” he said. “When I was growing up in KC, the world outside Kansas City seemed too big and it seemed scary. There’s so much happening here and originating here; it’s (Kansas City) bringing the entertainment world here; you don’t necessarily (have to) move 1,000 miles away to have an artistic career.”
“Out Here Now,” the Kansas City LGBT Film Festival, runs June 23-30 at Tivoli Cinemas in Westport, 4050 Pennsylvania Ave. Passes and individual movie tickets are available at the festival’s website, OutHereNow.com. A schedule of the week’s 21 screenings can be found on the festival’s site.