Win an autographed Shadowlands paperback by following two easy steps at the bottom of this post!
Introducing an experimental film from first time feature director Charlie David – SHADOWLANDS. Shadowlands will premiere as one of the Centerpiece films at qFLIX Film Festival in Philadelphia on Wednesday, March 21st at 7:15pm. If you’re in the Philadelphia area, come out and meet some of the cast and crew including Charlie David, Nico Stagias, David Robert Moore, Nicolas James Wilson, Vasilios Filippakis, Sean C. Dwyer and Natasha Balakrishnan. You can get tickets here.
The film which is made up of three unique stories was inspired by the short story anthology of the same title. All the stories have a homoerotic nature as well as diving into elements that are supernatural, suspenseful and eerie. We’ve shared one of the short stories from the Shadowlands paperback previously in this post with the story titled October 13th.
Shadowlands explores love in three stories – a narcissist grasping to comprehend it, a couple renegotiating a relationship, and star-crossed lovers mourning its loss.
The film begins in 1928 with Alex, a plastic surgeon hell-bent on perfection, hosting a house party with an assortment of colorful guests. Amid romantic misfires it becomes apparent that the only person Alex is interested in is himself.
Fast forward to 1951 and a gay military couple exploring the idea of opening their relationship while on a remote camping trip when they encounter a mysterious stranger.
The stories conclude in 2018 with a painter who in mourning the loss of his lover, becomes obsessed with creating a realistic painting of him. The resulting piece is so beautiful and life like that he is drawn under its spell.
You can learn more about the painter’s story in this post about the film of Pygmalion Revisited.
Enter a draw to win an autographed Shadowlands paperback by writing a review for one of Charlie David’s books Boy Midflight , ShadowlandsMulligans on Amazon or an online bookseller of your choice. Take a screen shot of your review and email then with your name and mailing address by Friday, April 20th to [email protected]
My Buddy is featured on the soundtrack for the Mating Season episode of the TV series SHADOWLANDS. The song features vocalists Marc Devigne and Michael Daniel Murphy in the first male duet recording of the classic song that was popular during WWII.
Producer Charlie David, music director Michael Daniel Murphy and singer Marc Devigne share their thoughts below during the recording session for the classic 1922 song ‘My Buddy’ which was recorded at Trouble Maker Studios in Montreal in December 2017.
CHARLIE DAVID: The Mating Season episode of Shadowlands takes place right after the second World War, so I was looking for music that really evoked that era. So we have some early Rockabilly, but when I came across this song called “My Buddy,” I was really excited. “My Buddy” was originally written in 1922, and it’s been covered by many, many famous artists, from Frank Sinatra, his daughter, Nancy Sinatra, Doris Day, Chet Baker, Bobby Darin, et cetera.
It’s a very unique song because it’s a love song and yet the term of endearment is “my buddy,” which is kind of a unique term to use from a man to a woman or a woman to a man, so to me there was an immediate gay undertone to it.
MARC DEVIGNE: It’s actually pretty special. This song is quite special due to the history that it has. I think it kind of had a resurgence in the ’50s but actually was written quite some time before that.
And now to be bringing it back today, it’s kind of interesting, and that’s why we wanted to take this song and, yes, kind of pay homage to the time period when it was first written and when it was relevant, but bring it back, still paying homage to that, but with a bit of a twist and our own maybe current take on it.
CHARLIE DAVID: Michael Daniel Murphy is the music director for the song, and so he’s really pulled together this team of artists and musicians and the engineer to create the song today. To me, it’s so exciting to come into the studio and record music live.
Generally, for music in film and television, we often license tracks from musicians because that’s just a more inexpensive way to do it, but there’s something that’s very magical about bring artists together and creating something live.
MICHAEL DANIEL MURPHY: When we arrived in the studio, I knew we were going to do the piano and the bass together at the same time because they play well together and we thought it would save time, and especially if there’s no metronome or a drum, it’s just nicer to have that kind of feel as a rhythm session of piano and base together, but to have the vocals at the same time today, and together, was a really nice surprise.
I thought it would be more complicated to organize, but actually, our sound engineer Fred, said it would be really straight forward. But I’m glad to have done it because I think it’s going to be hard to go back now and record in other ways because it’s so real. I miss that aspect, actually. That’s what I love about old recordings. There’s life to them, you know.
I listened to a lot of versions, first of all, and the approach to arranging song is Charlie also sent us an idea of what the scene was about, so that was really important to me, and yeah, I just thought simplicity in terms of even our scheduling, our time. So we were like, “Okay, let’s simplify.” I play the piano. So let’s do piano. We’ll figure out the arrangement with the voices.
The first time I actually heard this song was Chet Baker playing the trumpet, and I just felt like I wanted something like that … Especially with the war theme, and the romance between these men, or this whole duet aspect, I thought it would be nice to bring a trumpet into it, because I think it really creates kind of a classic vintage feel, but also specific to that era, and it’s a beautiful instrument.
So we used the flugelhorn, piano, and upright bass. Without having a full percussion ensemble or little drum kit, we’d have a bass to give it some life there, because I think there’s a slow dance that happens at this moment, so we wanted the rhythm to be right for this kind of romantic scene.
CHARLIE DAVID: In terms of the lyrics of the song, they are unique in that this was written in 1922, and we have lines like, “Nights are long since you went away, I think about you all through the day, my buddy.”
To me, hearing those words today, it’s hard to imagine them as not being some type of relationship. Certainly a very special friendship.
MARC DEVIGNE: Well, strangely enough for me, I had never heard this song, so when I first heard it when Charlie gave me the song to listen to, I thought it was quite clear … I mean possibly, because today listening to these lyrics of a man saying “my buddy,” it came off a bit strange. I remember even getting on the phone with him, and being like, “Was this clear to everyone else?”
It really does sound, again, taking it in our modern day, that it’s words of affection towards someone else. Now, there are a lot of artists that have covered it. Doris Day has covered it. And coming from a woman, it was just a different feel. So it is interesting. I don’t quite know the answer to that, whether some people sang it … Millions and millions of people have heard this song, and whatever way they interpreted it … I’m curious, actually, whether their interpretation was back then as it is now, because I played this song for quite a few people and they were like, “Well, sounds pretty clear to me what it means now.”
But again, back then where possibly being gay and stuff like that was very taboo, and not something you would hear on radio and media and stuff like that, so whether there was an undercurrent of that or whether it just went right over people’s heads and it wasn’t even the message, I’m not quite sure. But the relevance of today I think, for me, when it first hit me, it really sounded quite clear, especially when a man sang it, so, yeah.
CHARLIE DAVID: “My Buddy” was originally written in 1922, which is almost 100 years ago, so I think it’s pretty cool what we’re doing today, to be in Montreal, in a recording studio, a bunch of artists coming together to bring this story back to life, one more time. I mean, it’s been recorded over and over because it is a classic.
There’s something special about this song that rings true for people, that touches people, and so I can only imagine what the original writers would think if they knew that a century later, in Montreal, a bunch of Canadians have gotten together to record this song for a TV show. I’m excited to share the history and music with our friends and audience for Shadowlands.
Blake Mawson is a talented filmmaker creating compelling new work in horror.
His first film, PYOTR495, busts genre stereotypes and will stay with you long after the final credits.
We’ve just started working with director Blake Mawson at Border2Border Entertainment and really hope this is the first of many films for him. When I first watched PYOTR495 at the Toronto Inside Out Film Festival last year, it picked up another award – the RBC Best Emerging Canadian Artist Award.
Awards are great of course and this latest accolade was simply adding to the collection for PYOTR495, which include the Best Horror Short at Flickers’ Rhode Island Film Festival. It’s also been nominated for the Iris Prize, the world’s largest short film prize as well as the SITGES Brigadoon Paul Naschy Award.
For me the film was a nightmare (in the best possible way!) on so many levels. It really stayed with me and has had me contemplating all the privileges we enjoy in countries with LGBTQ rights and protections. Especially now, at a time when being queer in places like Russia, Chechnya, Uganda and Jamaica (to name a few) is still life-threatening.
I sat down with Blake Mawson recently to discuss his film and invite you to watch it first to get the full impact and then join our conversation.
CHARLIE DAVID: You’ve created a film that’s scary on so many levels. It excels as a horror film but it’s also a social commentary on the horrors that LGBTQ people have faced throughout history and still in countries around the world including our own. Was there any specific event that inspired you to make this film?
BLAKE MAWSON: Yes. I’d written PYOTR495 in January of 2014 after Uganda’s “Kill The Gays” bill had just been passed a month earlier, the Sochi Olympics were underway, and the media was bombarded with images of targeted abductions and attacks against LGBTQ people. I wanted to respond with a scenario that I felt could have empowered someone in these seemingly hopeless scenarios, and take that anger and frustration I was feeling and have it manifest on screen in an explosive way. Obviously, the problem didn’t stop after the foreign press left either. We’re now seeing an alarming, growing number of targeted abductions and attacks against LGBTQ people today globally.
CHARLIE DAVID: I’ve watched it a few times and I still get chills. The main character Pyrotr is on a dating app and there’s this revelation when he shows up for his date that he’s been lured here. Pyotr is asked if his friends know where he is and he responds no. I think there must be so many of us who have been in similar situations on a date or hook up. It gives you pause right?
BLAKE MAWSON: I think there’s always a risk that you take when you go to meet someone online. Sex is very private for many people, particularly if you are still in the closet and nobody would really know where you’d gone missing to if it was through a random online encounter. Discretion definitely aids Pyotr’s assailants in this particular scenario, as it has in many of the actual attacks which have taken place.
CHARLIE DAVID: Why was it important for you to create this layered exploration of some of the monsters in society?
BLAKE MAWSON: I suppose with the way things are going in today’s society, nothing’s really more frightening to me than the human race itself. The classic Hollywood boogie-men of film can no longer hold a flame to some of the monsters we have coming into power around the world today. In North America, we’re now faced with having the civil liberties of many of our friends, peers and loved ones revoked. The impending dread of what comes as result of the recent election feels more visceral and present than any horror film I’ve ever seen – the horror of a fractured system for so many has become a reality around the world.
CHARLIE DAVID: As you began sharing the film PYOTR495 at film festivals around the world what kind of reactions were you getting from audiences? Were they aware of the gay propaganda law in Russia?
BLAKE MAWSON: When we made the film, I think we had been naive to assume that many people would already be aware of the attitude towards LGBTQ people in Russia and the violent anti-gay abductions and attacks which the film had been based upon. Surprisingly, that was not the case at all. Many people did not know, but it allowed me to travel to festivals around the globe and talk about LGBTQ rights with an audience who normally may not be presented with, or consider that type of subject matter at genre festival. It allowed us to create discussion and raise awareness in the process of showing the film.
CHARLIE DAVID: Why was it important for the film to not become tragic?
BLAKE MAWSON: I think the LGBTQ community is incredibly resilient and has overcome so much throughout history and is unstoppable in so many ways. I wanted this film to reflect that spirit in an extreme way, an absolute refusal to sit down and just take whatever is thrown at us, and instead stand up and say ‘Actually, if you come for us, then you better watch out. You’re in for a big surprise.’ I believe that if you try to bury or oppress something for long enough, it’s eventually going to surface in ways you never imagined…
CHARLIE DAVID: How do you think the experience of LGBT dating is different for a person in Russia versus a country with LGBT rights?
BLAKE MAWSON: Dating in most cosmopolitan cities in North America for an LGBTQ person is a pretty privileged situation. In most cases, we don’t even need to think twice about how we present ourselves publicly or who knows about our sexuality, but there are still so many places in the world where it’s heavily frowned upon and/or dangerous to live openly or express affection in any kind of public way, and that includes conservative pockets of North America too. That type of fear exists for people outside of the Western bubble, and there’ll always be work to towards acceptance on a global scale.
CHARLIE DAVID: The film has been so well received at festivals around the world and picked up several awards along the way. Why is it important for the film to be seen and talked about now?
BLAKE MAWSON: With what we’ve seen is happening in Chechnya with the anti-gay purge and concentration camps for gay men, these human rights abuses by Chechen authorities where journalists covering the story are receiving death threats and being forced to flee the country – this is obviously a very clear sign that things are not getting any better and are in fact worsening in many parts of the globe. While I’m not claiming that our short film is solving any of world problems, I do think it is important that we use our voice as artists and as people in any way possible to draw attention to these injustices and continue to raise awareness.
I think if I can use genre-type film to put an audience in the shoes of the people who are experiencing this type of terror and hatred, make them uncomfortable and have them realize that this is actually not so make-believe in the end, that this type of horror is real – then we can begin to open people’s eyes and reach an audience in unexpected ways.
CHARLIE DAVID: It’s easy to become complacent in Canada or the USA or England or Australia when it comes to LGBTQ equality. How would you encourage others to look beyond our own borders to help in the struggle for freedom still being fought in so many places around the world?
BLAKE MAWSON: I would say to use your voice in whatever way you can. Continue to put pressure on your lawmakers and representatives to address these human rights issues directly with the leaders of countries who do not have human rights protections for LGBTQ people, email your Russian Embassy and let them know that you won’t sit quietly while this type of injustice is going on. Join in on local demonstrations and donate to organizations like the Russian LGBT Network and their emergency support program where they are helping to evacuate and provide support for vulnerable, at-risk LGBTQ people from Chechnya currently.
Get in touch with Blake Mawson through his social below.