House parties and teenagers usually spells trouble, but in this case it spells “DOWNING”. Screenwriter, Peter Forbes, tells us about his short film directed by Ben Peters and produced by Russell Webber.
Synopsis: A Scottish “Cruel Intentions”, Downing is set against the darkly vibrant backdrop of a teenage house party, that navigates the complicated minefield of teenage sexuality as John, 17 year old isolated gay boy, finds an opportunity to exact revenge on the handsome and intoxicating Daniel.
What drew you to make a film about teenagers?
I think the teenage years are always interesting to write about because it is the time when so much of the personality can be formed as well as being a time when a lot of mistakes can be made and survived without too much damage being done to a person’s life.
Obviously there are vast differences between the states of the USA in terms of homophobia but I would imagine the largest difference is the level of top down homophobia that there seems to be in the U.S. As an outsider looking in, it seems to be perfectly acceptable for public officials at the top level of society to pronounce homosexuality as wrong and it even seems to be a vote winner for certain parties. I would imagine for anyone young in the LGBT community, that this could be an incredibly demoralising feeling. Like you are simply unwanted in your own country. In the UK while it may not be perfect that level of publicly endorsed homophobia is getting incredibly rare.
In all honestly not really. I was very fortunate when Russell came on board as producer which meant I had someone to develop the script with and I think we were both interested in making the same type of film. What emerged was very close to how it was scripted thanks to a remarkably talented cast and crew that Russell put together.
What has been the audience reaction in the festivals where it has been shown?
The audience response has been very positive. Many people seemed to respond to the fact that the gay protagonist is not apologetic and not stereotypical. Downing was also written to exist in the grey area morally rather than black and white so there is always debate about whether or not the way the story plays out is justified.
Any thoughts about a feature version of this, or is a short the best format?
We have looked at a feature transfer and the treatment exists. I think Downing works great as a short so the challenge is always to develop the correct elements more to justify it as a feature. Often shorts to features don’t work because not enough additional material is added in terms of story to make it worthy of feature length.