entertainment

Interview: Tanner Cohen, star of new gay film 'Getting Go'

2014-07-03
Getting Go TEMPNew gay film Getting Go: The Doc Go Project is about a pair of chalk 'n' cheese characters - but it's anything but clichéd. Made on a minuscule budget, it follows Tanner Cohen's Doc, a grad student set in the ways of heteronormativity, and his obsession with a go go dancer known only as Go, played by Matthew Camp, who's a free-thinking sexual libertarian. Made on a minuscule budget, this 'mockumentary'-style film makes for emotional viewing, as Doc and Go's relationship turns from one of lust to something deeper after they share a night of passion. I caught up with the handsome Tanner to chat about the film, his recent role in Looking and, well, straight women who watch gay porn. Hello Tanner. How are you? "I'm well, thanks." You've got a new film out called Getting Go. How did you get involved with the project? "I had worked with the director and producer before on another movie called Were the World Mine. They actually asked me if I knew anybody who would be good for the part - when they first started casting that character, they wanted him to be an actual film student. I didn't know anybody, but I asked if I could come and audition. I went and met with Matt [Camp] a couple of times, and we just went from there. I got lucky." Both films, Were the World Mine and Getting Go, are quite unconventional. What is it about those sorts of projects that you're drawn to? "I guess the challenge. I think I'm turned on by working with people that want to try something new, maybe? I'm that type of person. I like to work with those types of people. Both projects sounded like things I'd never seen before, so that was exciting to me." A lot of the film was shot on an iPhone - did that make it quite difficult? "On the one hand there was a certain comfort and ease about shooting because it was so small - it really was just Matthew and I a lot of the time, plus the director and the producer. That made it easy because we had a lot of freedom. On the other hand, it was really difficult. A lot of it wasn't scripted; we had to be spontaneous and react to the world around us because very little of it was rehearsed - it just all had to happen. So I guess there were challenges in that." Those intimate moments in the film, especially the bit where you make love for the first time, must have been difficult to get right. "I guess it helped that we didn't have any idea of what 'right' was. We would do it a few times, and if it needed to be a little different then we would try that. But everything was kind of like, 'Let's see how this works'. That made it a little bit easier to share authentic moments with each other. And honestly, that stuff - the sex stuff, the kissing and the really intimate pillow talky stuff - was probably some of the easier stuff we shot. It was more the intellectual or emotional shots that were harder to get through." Matthew Camp (Go) & Tanner Cohen (Doc) Some of the issues in the film are pretty emotional - but the characters are kept quite anonymous. Did you find it difficult to identify with the character of Doc because of that, or did that actually make it easier for you as an actor? "You mean having free reign on what his story was? I guess that makes it easier. I think it depends on the part. In this situation it was nice, and felt appropriate, to bring a lot of myself into the character. I don't really have the same outlook that he does, but we have a lot of similarities, or maybe it's that I used to be more like him. So I enjoyed having some space to bring my personal story and life, and my friend's stories and lives, into the character." There are a lot of scenes of you guys in bars with go-go dancers. I've only ever been to one place where that happens and it was in New York, and I found the whole thing a bit of a culture shock. How did you find going to those places? "I had to reserve a lot of judgement so that I could feel comfortable enough to do my job. I, naturally, feel uncomfortable in those places. I'm not sure what it is about them... maybe it's the size - those places with go-go boys are normally really big and that overwhelms me. It was weird at first but I got used to it, and then it kind of helped. We were in real clubs, with real customers and real dancers. We were talking with real drag queens and it helped me to feel that I was out and that someone was just happening to be filming me." I suppose Matthew Camp was quite used to it as he used to dance. "Yeah, Matthew used to dance and he still did when we shot it. He was dancing way less than he used to, and now I don't think he dances at all. He keeps super busy; he's a really talented, creative guy who does a lot of things." You're obviously drawn to LGBT-themed projects. What is it that makes you want to be involved? "I think just a desire for there to be more of these projects - and to be a part of it. I want there to be more, and better, LGBT stories, so I'm just drawn to them as an audience member, as well as a performer. You were also in Looking. How was that? "It was so cool because all the people involved were really chilled and there was a sense of community. Even when we were shooting the pilot, the sense of community was immediate. Since it was kind of a small project at a big network, I think everyone just bound together so that they could do their best work and get it on air. It was exciting, fun, and sexy. It was a really sexy scene... for me to do! I'm not saying that 'I'm so sexy'." When you're filming something like that, obviously it's different from when you watch it, but I always watch those scenes and think it must be awkward to shoot them "I honestly feel like I would say the same thing. That's generally how I feel before it. But normally, having had experience in doing that, you're not really phased by the fact that it's fake." Matthew Camp (Go) & Tanner Cohen (Doc) 4 There is a trend, especially with US TV and movies, towards assimilation between gay characters and their straight counterparts. You've got shows like GleeGrey's Anatomy and The New Normal, where gay characters are following a heteronormative narrative. Why do you think this is? "I think that's how culture is moving. Culture has moved that way first and then TV follows as there's now an audience for that. I honestly don't have a strong opinion about it. I definitely don't share the theories that my character Doc has in Getting Go. But I'm not completely aligned with the opposite either." Obviously you're not going to see fisting on network television. "No!" I remember when Queer as Folk USA was on, it was interesting to hear that a lot of the audience was straight women. "Oh really? I didn't know that." Yeah. Straight women were a huge demographic for that show. "Well, a lot of straight women watch gay porn. Not that I'm saying that show was porn, but there was a lot of sex for them in it! I know a lot of my friends went back and watched all of Queer as Folk when Looking was on. It made them want to watch it." You're obviously a good-looking guy, so I wanted to ask you if you get weird requests or whatever on social media? "Very rarely. I can't think of anything. Mostly, when people contact me on social media, it's about Were the World Mine, so it's kind of sweet. People say really nice things because that movie has very little raunch. Maybe I'll see more after people see Getting Go." I think that might happen. I also wanted to ask about Were the World Mine, actually. It was quite a long time ago, but can you remember what it was like making that movie? "It was a long time ago, or at least the years between then and now are packed. I remember it being really exciting, really scary and pretty much amazing. I had just come out of the closet a year before, so I threw myself into it. That was fun, but also a little intimidating. Also, I had never had a big part in anything. The experience was amazing, but, you know, all so new to me back then..." Getting Go: The Go Doc Project is available on DVD now via Peccadillo Pictures. Check out some exclusive preview clips below. Exclusive: Watch a clip from new gay film ‘Getting Go’ Exclusive: Watch another clip from new gay film ‘Getting Go’ Exclusive: Watch final preview of new gay film ‘Getting Go’