Shout Goes Behind the Scenes with Queer As Folk's
Peter Paige, Hal Sparks, Scott Lowell and John Greyson
Shout! is a half-hour television program which premiered in September on PrideVision TV, a digital specialty channel offered by Rogers Cable in Canada. It is the first national network of its kind for coverage of gay and lesbian issues.
Reporters for the program 'Shout!' went on location to the set ofQueer As Folk in Toronto to interview some of the cast members and get a sneak peek at the second episode of the new season. Scott Lowell, Peter Paige, Hal Sparks and director John Greyson were on hand to provide insight to the plotlines and the characters, as well as share some of their personal stories. The interviews were conducted by roving reporter 'Guy' on the set of the Liberty Diner, and that of Brian's Loft.
Episode 202, Scene 4, Take 2 . . . ACTION!
The boys hang out at Babylon
In what I can only assume was an unintentional homage to Scott's tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, he was seated in front of the mural of the naked man in Brian's Loft for the duration of his interview. Hal (who was not mic'd) held court on one of the stools in the diner, while Peter preferred to lounge comfortably in one of the booths for his chat with Guy. The cast members were already in wardrobe and Scott was actually being 'touched-up' as the interview began.
Throughout the interviews, we were shown clips of the first season, and watched the cast and crew in between takes while filming scenes for the new season, at Babylon and another set I didn't recognize (a bar or restaurant, I think).
Taking a break
Hal Sparks and Gale Harold share a laugh between takes
Guy, on location with Queer As Folk for Season Two
GUY: "If you're a fan of the North American version of Queer As Folk, you'd recognize this diner. The boys are back in Toronto, which doubles as Pittsburgh, for season two of Queer As Folk. Shout got on set and hung around with the boys for a little while for a late night shoot."
Ted and Emmett on the stairs at Babylon
"It takes a grueling ten hours to put on the prosthetics to become Ted Schmidt," Scott Lowell joked as he received his touch-ups from makeup and hair. Peter Paige came running across the set, just behind Scott's chair, with his hands high up in the air, yelling, "The gay people are coming!! The gay people are coming!!"
GUY: "So how does it feel to come back to the second season with one successful season under your belt?"
SCOTT: "It's really great. It's nice to know that everything we did last year came out so well and mattered so much to people. It kind of gives you a new energy to go back and try to do it even better this year, and keep people's expectations high, keep living up to it."
CUT TO: Clip of episode 2. Ted, Emmett and Brian on the stairs at Babylon, over looking the dance floor.
SCOTT: "I would have thought coming back, we could have just said [lowering his voice, pretending to hold a cigar], 'Well, you know, we got the machine working well, we're a big hit, we'll just keep doing the same thing,' but in a weird way, it's like you've got to kind of do it one better now, because the expectations are so high that you really want to keep raising the bar and continue to make it better and better. It's actually, in a weird way, harder.
TED: "You're too young for plastic surgery."
EMMETT [looking up at Brian]: "Ohhhh, this life can wear you out by the time you're thirty . . . right Bri?
JOHN: "The challenge for me as director-for-hire is very much to try and get inside their heads and figure out what story they're trying to tell, and then serve that and, you know, give that storytelling a sense of energy that's appropriate; find a visual vocabulary that's going to match what story is being told. In just about every episode there's a real balance between real high-stakes drama in all the lives."
SCOTT: "These characters are unlike any I think that have ever been seen on TV before. To follow their romantic trials and tribulations is like a drug and people are addicted to it. The fact that it's become such a community event; that this is a show that people watch at parties, that they watch in bars; it's been a long time since there's been a show like that where people want to come together and watch it, enjoy it together."
SCOTT: "I actually snuck down to a bar in West Hollywood over the summer; I put a disguise on and went down with some of the producers to watch an episode, and it was thrilling to sit there in this room filled with people just standing there watching the show, and so involved with it and completely lost . . . the episode I chose to watch was my big naked leather S&M episode, so that was odd, seeing my self naked with a room full of strangers . . . but it was really thrilling, and it gave me goose bumps the whole night because it meant a lot to me to see immediately how it was affecting people and how much they were enjoying it."
JOHN: "Making a queer soap opera is all about the specificity of it, and not to trying to explain queer life to anybody but instead just lay it out, within its own parameters . . . I mean, this is one version of what a queer soap could be and I think there's lots of things you could say, like, 'Oh, there's no such-and-such,' or ‘These characters only represent a corner of the gay world,' but I think that the whole point is, if a soap goes out there, if a drama goes out there like this, and is really strong and makes an impact, that's going to make possible the next two, the next three, the next four . . . sometimes in reaction."
SCOTT: "After I saw the pilot, the initial three episodes, I started to really sense that we had something special. But when I first started working on it I really didn't know that it would have this kind of effect and I couldn't be prouder of it, that it has; it's so nice to be a part of something that is more than just entertainment, that it is something that's doing something for people and representing people who haven't really ever been represented as whole human beings on screen before is nice, to do something like that, something that matters, rather than just some other dumb old TV show."
JOHN: "There's a sense of real people gathering for a common project, there's a lot of fun; the fact that you're surrounded, on days like this, with a hundred half-naked guys who are going to be swarming around . . .
GUY [joking]: "It's not that bad!"
JOHN [laughing in agreement]: ". . . it's not that bad! This is like OUR soap opera. I want to make it, shoot it the way I want soap operas to look. You know, sort of shameless . . . "
PETER: "Well, I'm not giving anything away, but suffice it to say Emmett's had more on-screen action in the first week than he had all of last season."
John on the set of QAF
Gale gets direction in between takes
"I think this is my best side . . . "
Going 'straight' on QAF? *g*
Guy talks to Peter Paige
GUY: "What have been some of the challenges following after the original British hit?"
PETER: "Anytime you're doing a remake of something you want it to be its own thing, you want it to live up to the ideals created in the first piece. And you're wrestling people's pre-conceived notions about something, their expectations are high . . . Canadians in particular are great Anglophiles so there was certainly a challenge in that. I think the idea was to create people who you know, and understand and can relate to. Surprisingly, in my own group of friends back in LA, I know a guy who's a lot like Ted, and I have a friend who've got some of the Brian qualities, there are several Michaels running around, so I don't think it's that unusual that a group of friends might shake down like this; there's only room for one Emmett in any group of friends. You can't have nine Nellys . . . they'd be fighting for the lipstick all the time!"
PETER: "There's a great openness in him (Emmett); this wonderful vibrance, this wonderful flamboyance and his lack of self-loathing. So many, in fact, almost all portrayals of effeminate gay men are just laden, dripping, with self-hatred; it's always a cover-up for some horrible pain, and it's always a big act, but not all effeminate gay men I know are like that. I know effeminate gay men who are happy and joyous and free, and that's what I saw in Emmett, and that's what I brought to the character and what I wanted to explore. Here's this gay guy who's as Nelly as can be, but doesn't hate himself for it. Somewhere along the way he figured that out and he doesn't hate himself for it, and if you don't like him, you don't have to."
PETER: "I also hear more substantial, more important things like, 'I came out to my mother because of the show,' or 'my parents call me up and ask me all sorts of questions about my life because they watch your show,' It just really makes me feel like we're making a difference, that we're doing something important."
Brian scopes out the dance floor at Babylon
GUY: "Do you miss the place? You've been on hiatus for a while."
HAL: "Um . . . ah . . . sure. I miss the people. You become like family after you shoot for nine months. Being cramped in the same studio for nine months, especially going through a winter here, and all the nude scenes, you're kind of like [in a small, suffocated voice], 'I can't wait to break free!' . . . but yeah, generally."
HAL: "That's the interesting thing about being involved in our project; it's kind of a runaway social instigator; it pushes things forward whether people want to go forward or not. I think the value of it, the de-mystification of this is how similar the world is. The gay club world is an anomaly, it's a very specific lifestyle, but it's still not that different from the hardcore straight clubbers, the club-scene ravers and the like; it's just got more of a sexual slant on it because that's men. But on the other hand, their relationships, and they're dealing with friends and parents, and all that stuff, it's identical, and I think the more people see that, the healthier it is. Being straight and doing this role, most guys I think are a little panicked at the idea that they might be gay, back in the corner of their head, not realizing that people are, people aren't, it's fine."
PETER: "The gift that Queer As Folk has given me is this great lack of apology. I'm so far out of the closet now, and in such a big way, there's no going back. There's no more room for silent apologies. When people start talking about their girlfriends, and I wonder, should I bring up that I've been seeing some guy or something, I don't wonder about that very much anymore, I just do it. I just am who I am, out in the world, in such a way that it's feels really great. I feel like a grown-up. And I really attribute a lot of that to Queer As Folk."