NSFW’s Adam Baran Talks “Catharsis” With Director Robert Aquino
“I went into this telling the cast and crew that all the sex on film wouldn’t be simulated and would be just totally, unabashedly raw.” ~Robert Aquino
“Catharsis” was the third in a series of highly anticipated releases during NakedSword Film Works (NSFW)’s February launch. Filmmaker and NSFW curator Adam Baran recently had a chance to delve deeper into the film with its director, Robert Aquino for Indie Focus Thursday at The Sword.
A young gay man struggling with a devastating breakup seeks solace in the arms of a super-sexy furry stud in director Robert Aquino’s “Catharsis”, a powerful, compelling film added to NSFW, the ongoing series for NakedSword that showcases content that blurs the line between porn and indie film. Though viewers might not see the close-up cum shots or under-the-balls-angle penetration shots like you find in most porn, that doesn’t mean the sex scenes in the film are any less hot – or authentic.
“I went into this telling the cast and crew that all the sex on film wouldn’t be simulated and would be just totally, unabashedly raw,” Aquino, who also co-stars in the film, informed Adam Baran during a chat about the film. “That’s actually [co-star Gabe Gonzalez] eating my ass after licking my entire back.” But sex isn’t the only reason to check out the short. The skilled camerawork of Aquino’s cinematographer, Denia Hasic and the story itself, a moving depiction of a search for love and meaning, make this a film anyone can relate to. Adam recently spoke with Aquino about his film and what’s next for the up-and-coming director.Adam Baran – The Sword: Hi Robert, so how did “Catharsis” come about? This is your first film, right?
Robert Aquino: Yeah, “Catharsis” is my first, my baby. The film was born out of lack of creativity and an abundance of sex. I was floundering creatively, and I was single, so I was in this weird, unproductive space because of a break-up a few months prior. At that point I decided I had to write and create, no questions asked. I wrote what I knew, and it just happened to be melancholy, sex, and Brooklyn.
The film seems pretty raw, and you’re playing the lead role. Was this inspired by your own life?
I had gone through a two-year on-and-off emotionally and physically abusive relationship that left me scarred, and I realized I had to write about it to exorcise all the toxicity. I had to put it on paper and see what happened. I took moments from the relationship and my single life and put them together to create this kind of ultimate montage of everything that lead me to that very point. I combined a bunch of men I had been with into “the trick”, as I like to call Gabe Gonzalez’s character, in order to provide an outsider’s opinion and guidance.
Did you achieve some kind of catharsis by playing yourself in the film?
At the end of the filmmaking process, I did. It helped me look at what had happened to me since I was 20 and forgive myself for allowing me to go through it. But between writing, directing, acting and editing, I re-lived everything for about a year, which was so fucking hard. I was emotionally drained by the end of it. I wanted to make this to show people that you can be broken and rebuild, but it broke me down more in the process.
Tell the truth, did you just cast the delectable Gabe Gonzalez so you could hook up with him on camera?
Well, I didn’t have to wait for the cameras to start rolling for that to happen. Gabe’s casting came about because a friend suggested him as I struggled to find someone for the part. Casting is so difficult when you have a specific vision for your characters and a small budget. I sent Gabe the script and pursued him to talk it over with me. His audition basically just turned into us reading the script, talking about the characters, and then just hooking up all night. For this film, I think that was the best way to audition and make sure we had a connection. He’s such a special guy.
Were you really eating Gabe’s ass in the movie?
I went into this telling the cast and crew that all the sex on film wouldn’t be simulated and would be just totally, unabashedly raw. From what I remember, that’s actually him eating my ass after licking my entire back. While filming the close up of the sex scene, it was just me, Gabe, and our amazing cinematographer Denia on set. We didn’t rehearse. We just hit record and went at it. No limits, no boundaries Filming that scene was finished whenever Gabe and I decided to naturally stop touching each other.
Were there other films – queer or otherwise – that you looked at as inspiration for “Catharsis”?
“Weekend” really helped me tap into that “sad gay girl” side of the film, along with its intimate, heartbreaking visuals. Our mood board consisted of stills from that film along with a lot of pictures from Butt Magazine. At every crew meeting, I would tell everyone how I wanted it to seem like this film was a Butt Magazine photo shoot come to life and I really believe we captured it perfectly with the soft neon lighting, the hairy bodies and the inherent sadness of these two guys finding their lost selves through sex.
What’s next for you? A “Catharsis”” feature? Or something else?
I’m not really sure. I’d love to do something else with “Catharsis”, where we follow the two lead characters through another period of their lives, perhaps while journeying through different American cities, however, the big issue is funding. I’m in an odd place right now where I’m not sure where I’m headed or how to get there, but I know I want to keep exploring the young, modern gay guy living in this highly connected world while still feeling alone. I just want to show people its okay to feel sad, weird and alone. There’s something really beautiful about that. Either that or an insanely bloody, balls-to-the-wall slasher movie. I love horror.
Adam Baran is a filmmaker and film programmer based out of Brooklyn, NY. Adam is currently working on a queer documentary titled “Northwest Passage.” You can contact him at Adam@TheSword.com and follow him on Twitter at @ABaran999. Check out his previous columns in the Fisting For Compliments Archive.