Discovery: Greg Luna
PORTRAIT BY COLIN DODGSON
Greg Luna is the 23-year-old writer and director of MWM, a short feature that debuted in New York’s First Run Festival. The film adapts a story originally featured in New York about married men whose ambiguous sexualities lead them into double lives. Here we introduce the young director, and ask him about where secrecy still resides:
INTERVIEW: What was the first film you made?
GREG LUNA: I was about 14 years old and I made an over-ambitious retelling of Amiri Baraka’s play, “Dutchman.” I set it in Los Angeles, at a bus stop, and I changed the main character to a young Mexican kid. I wasn’t old enough to drive, so my mother drove me around Lincoln Heights and East L.A. so I could shoot exteriors from the passenger seat of her car. I shot the whole thing in a day with two friends in a park. I used a white poster board to bounce light and there was a rubber “stunt” knife for the stabbing scene. I thought it was the edgiest movie ever made in Pasadena.
INTERVIEW: Where did you go to college? How did you peers respond to your films in critique?
LUNA: I went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. I made a lot of student films, but I was kind of a lazy technical filmmaker in the beginning. I wasn’t confident with the equipment so I tended to rely on story. Most of my student shorts were relationship dramas, usually with female protagonists. Film school is very macho. My films weren’t macho at all.
INTERVIEW: What struck you about the MWM story when you read it? Why did you think it would make an effective film?
LUNA: When you live in liberal communities, especially big cities, it’s easy to forget that your own gay experience is not an accurate reflection of every gay experience. That’s what moved me about the article. MWM is a fairly common representation of many gay realities; coming out isn’t an easy step for everyone. The “married white male” subject in the article was particularly interesting to me. His awareness and delusion are very closely linked.
STILL FROM MWM
INTERVIEW: Who do you want the story to reach?
LUNA: I’d like MWM to reach people who normally might be quick to judge men in these situations. The film allows the audience to judge the protagonist, but I think it also confronts some basic truths about love and desire. The easy reaction is disgust: the online cruising, the anonymous sex, the cheating. The more challenging reaction is to find empathy and understanding.
INTERVIEW: What’s your next project? How do you usually come by projects?
LUNA: I’m putting MWM through the festival circuit for the next year, so I’ve begun to write a feature. I get ideas everywhere. I listen to a lot of music and I try to read as much as possible. But usually I’m just a people-watcher. I come up with little stories about strangers every day. I love people.
MWM SCREENS NEXT, JUNE 3–13 AT THE NEWFEST 2010. THE FESTIVAL TAKES PLACE AT THE SVA THEATER.