Filmmaker Konstantinos Menelaou is hoping to uncover why gay male relationships sometimes fail. He’s currently working on the experimental film “He Loves Me”, which will be his way of investigating gay relationships, and is seeking support through an Indiegogo campaign.
How did you come up with the idea for this movie?
It is based on an experience I had in Crete and a general concern about the issue of romantic love and the fact that it is so difficult to achieve in gay relationships especially when experienced in big cities like London. After a terrible break up,, I couldn’t rest and I was looking for answers, why did love fail… and how? Working on this project is like psychotherapy.
Your goal on Indiegogo to fundraise £18,000. Why do you need this amount of money?
The original budget was much more than that. This is the emergency budget. The project is an art documentary fiction film with gay characters. It’s not easy to get it funded. The amount we are asking is just the bare minimum for flights, food, equipment, insurance, licenses and basic expenses. We will be shooting for 2 weeks and editing for God knows how long. 18K for a feature length film is science fiction small an amount.
Do you have any specific deadlines?
We need to shoot by the end of September because afterwards it will get cold on the beach. We need it to be hot and sweaty!
I was going to do castings and I started talking to some actors, but for some reason I had these guys in my head. I know them from the neighborhood and we worked together on a performance I produced with Slava Mogutin for Fringe Fest. At some point we had a meeting and we talked about the issues I wanted to raise in the film. What they had to say and how they interacted with each other in front of me blew me away. I filmed some of it. They got straight away what I am about with this project. They have been through a lot, they are very smart and they have the intelligence to bring it in front of the camera and they look good and act naturally on camera. It was all so natural and felt like we were creating something great together at those moments. We did another rehearsal meeting / improv session and I was totally convinced that they were the ones. The ideal vehicles to carry my concerns, anxieties and ideas and communicate them with an audience.
Sanuye & Hermes are a real-life boyfriends. Will they play scripted roles in your movie or you’ll simply film their real emotions and relationship?
They will be themselves but I will be a part of their filmic relationship. I will bring out elements from them that they wouldn’t be able or want to bring out themselves. I will be the catalyst for new thoughts, I will dig out emotions out of them. So in a sense it is not scripted but there is a specific plan and I have specific things in my head that I want them to explore.
You described your movie as a cinematic experiment. Reveal the mystery! Tell us what exactly will make your movie an experiment?
There is a structure but there is no detailed Hollywood style script. Through improvisation we will explore all the issues we want to talk about. I won’t dictate the story, I will arrange it and I will let it unfold based on my actors’ life stories and experiences. We know what we want to talk about but the result is something we will find out all together at the end of the editing process, just like my hero John Cassavetes used to do.
Besides John Cassavetes, can you name any other movie directors that you’re inspired by?
John Cassavetes is my favorite. Jim Jarmush is my second favorite. Their films are what cinema is all about for me… they smell cinema. They made their films with a cigarette and a glass of whiskey in their hands. They loved filming them and they loved editing them. Especially Cassavetes. He lived to make films, to make them right, at any cost. Not for the money, but because he wanted to tell a story, he needed to tell a story, otherwise he would burst. Money was not important to him. It shouldn’t be important to anybody. Money fucks things up.
Paola Revenioti, a Greek transgender artist and activist, also a protagonist of one of your movies, once said that gay people skip the romantic act of kissing a boy and prefer to have fun in bathhouses and one night stands… Do you agree with her?
I agree with her. That’s what most gay guys do, especially in big cities. There are exceptions, of course, but the general observation is that nobody has time to be romantic and almost everybody is afraid of monogamy. They think it will fail. Therefore they reject romance without even trying for it. Straight relationships are equally fucked up, but for different reasons. Big discussion…
Based on your experience, how would you describe gay relationships?
Do you believe in monogamous relationships among gay couples?
I believe that a monogamous relationship is the ideal. It does sound like believing that E.T exists. But I want to believe that it can happen. One day… with the right person, it can be amazing. I have faith in this idea.
You were born and raised in Greece, then got your MA in Fine Arts in UK. Now that you have lived and worked in England for many years, can you say that you’re still influenced by your country of origin?
I am influenced by the political and social situation in Greece, the everyday fascism in simple living, homophobia, bad taste, family love and family hate, the beauty of nature and the beauty of simplicity. Greece is such an extreme place. You can witness the ultimate beauty and the worst ugliness at the same time. There’s so much I bring from home that have shaped me into the person I am now and the work that I do.