A quiet Monday in the Castro found director Jeff Iorillo hard at work with a cast of tom boys, drag queens, and other festival regulars filming a new series of trailers for Frameline’s June SF International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Frameline’s trailers never take a back seat to the films in the festival, and Iorillo has been a large part of their growing popularity in the past decade. His ’97 crowd-pleaser, “Two Couples,” with two ostensibly straight pairs re-grouping their lusts, not only had the theaters howling, but went ‘round the world as well. His “Queer Witch Project” kept crowds guessing with a variety of separate mystery stories…. This year, he returns to that mode with a variety pack in “Ticket Scalper,” featuring a clueless suburbanite getting a Castro-sized wakeup call. SF360 regulars Jennifer Young and Laura Irvine stopped by the set to shoot photos and find out more.
SF360: Tell us about the trailer and how you got involved?
Jeff Iorillo: This will be the fourth festival trailer that I’ve written and directed. The first one I did, back in ’97, was ‘Two Couples,’ the one in the movie theater, which went around the world and became a big deal. The year after that we did ‘Queer Witch Project.’ And the year after that was ‘Jessie Goes to Heaven.’ So every year I try to do something completely different. One year it was a silent black-and-white cinema inside a theater. The next year it was a grungy handheld video running through the woods. And the next year it was kind of a lavish production with special effects. I produced all of them with Cheryl Rosenthal, who I was introduced to by Frameline. This year I was involved with the graphic design firm that did the festival graphics so all these posters are the actual posters that will be promoting the festival — the programs, and the tickets, and the T-shirts, and everything. So I asked if they were interested in having me do the trailer again and Frameline said ‘Yes,’ and Cheryl said ‘Yes.’ Everyone said ‘Yes.’
I wrote this one a little more off the cuff. It takes place in front of the theater during the festival — so that’s why we’ve got all the signage changed out. The theme is during the festival there’s a kind of hip-hop suburban guy out front and he’s trying to sell tickets to the Frameline festival because he thought he might make a buck. But he didn’t really realize it was gay, and he didn’t really realize what it’s about, so he’s in over his head. He has this whole series of little vignettes with different characters from the neighborhood and we cover L and G and B and T and Q and they’re all just good-natured, funny, quick, little vignettes. We’ll be making this into a short film, probably 2 or 3 minutes long, that will be on the frameline website and on YouTube. Then we’ll be cutting that into a few 15 or 30 second spots that will run during the festival.
SF360: How long does a production take — post, pre, and shoot?
Iorillo: We’ve got one day to shoot and two weeks to edit and that’s it. All of this is being donated by local people and local firms and all of this is part of a local production community that Cheryl has put together. Post production is being handled by a company called Teak Motion Visuals who have created a cool little animated closer and they’re doing the editorial of the actual pieces. I wrote the piece over the last few months and had some collaboration from some of the cast as we came closer. We sort of used our auditions as rehearsals as well and made some more changes. Then our casting director Katie Cronin threw in some characters that were just friends of hers that I hadn’t thought of putting in — there’s an 82 year-old lady that I hadn’t counted on, there’s a really wonderful looking woman who goes gliding by on a skateboard that I’d never heard of before…. So a lot of people have contributed and collaborated into making this the kind of a crazy, carnival, free-for-all that’s it’s going to be.
SF360: So are you a local boy?
Iorillo: I am a local boy. I’ve lived in San Francisco for going on 25 years. I was a creative director at an ad agency for many years and I have been freelance for about seven years. The other trailers are all on my website, which is iorillo.com, and this one will be there but it will also be on Frameline, and YouTube, because now we’re in the age of viral video. You know every year I try to give the trailer a different look and feel. The first year I had anything to do with it I wanted to make it feel cinematic so the two couples were in a theater, and we shot on 35mm film…. The next year indie cinema was just getting started with all the handheld shakycam. This year it’s all about YouTube and viral video, and so we’re shooting on hi-definition video and cutting it together quickly and the long version goes online — the short version you get to see in the theater. So if you’re interested you’ve got to go on frameline.org to see the whole thing. We’re having a really great time and everybody is working really hard. The thing that’s so wonderful is that all these people, maybe about 40 people including cast and crew with extras, and people just volunteering, who just show up and help — just want to do something. It’s because people want to support Frameline and they love the festival. Cheryl and I have been hugely flattered because people love the trailers that we’ve done. You know the two couples one got a standing ovation on opening night and my mother was there! And it keeps us coming back every year. So it’s a joy. Everybody just donates their day and donates their time and just all to support film in the Bay Area, and this festival, and support the whole community. It’s a really wonderful thing.
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