"Call Me Adam" grinded with filmmaker Zachary Halley about his new short film musical Grind which takes a sexy and artistic look at the ways we connect in today’s multi-screened hook-up culture and asks, "Do you really know who you’re talking to?"
Grind will be available to view online at grindshortfilm.com beginning October 1. The soundtrack is available via Amazon.
1. I just saw your short film Grind this past weekend was very moved by it. From the story to the music, the film really hit home for me. What made you want to tell this story? Is it more an inspired film or written from more personal experience? Is this a trick question…? Here’s what I can admit to: I definitely use Grindr. Who doesn’t? In this story, what's more personal to me is the feeling of "is this app the best there is?" And how it can leave you feeling so…disconnected.
I was raised Mormon, in a home, where nothing outside of waspy norms of conversation ever came up. And I certainly didn’t have any friends I could talk to about being gay. The way the Mormon church talks about being gay (or at least did then) made it all seem like a disorder or malfunction that could be corrected if you just believed and prayed hard enough. When all my praying and belief didn’t make me love Celiné Dion any less, I felt like I must have been some kind of a freak. Like I had some kind of "monster" inside me making me want unnatural and dangerous things that would hurt me and others. It fucks with your head. So while I can’t imagine what it’s like to deal with psychopathy per se, I’ve definitely felt like I had secret desires that would lead to destruction. (Anyone who’s tried and enjoyed Raspberry Fudge Dipped Oreos could also relate).
2. I know what I got from watching this short. What do you want viewers to come away with after seeing the film? We should turn this into a reverse interview because I always love to hear what people get from it!
I want people to be entertained. I like stories that piss me off or make me think…but if you can’t laugh at a joke or tap your toe to the music, it all feels pedantic. It’s not meant to be a morality play. I tried to create an honest portrayal of both online/app dating in NYC with an atypical character and a very typical one. I hope it rings true to people. And if not, hey…catchy tunes!
3. How did you decide that you wanted Derek Gregor and Selda Sahin to write the music and lyrics for Grind? (by the way, you made an excellent choice as the songs really helped reinforce the story). We were all roommates at the time. Selda and I were writing something else that just wasn’t clicking for us. In the downtime of working on that other project, she would grind on my profile. (I shouldn’t admit this, but I actually met a number of boys she set things up with). We did a few writing retreats working with the short story and we had a great time working together. They’re both artists in the best sense of the word. And everything did click so we decided we had "something there."
4. You also assembled some of today's most talented actors/singers to help bring this film to life. What was the best part about working with this cast and making this film? What were some challenges you faced? How did you get through them? Our cast was awesome, right? I couldn’t be more proud of the work they did considering it was a "run-and-gun" working situation. Everyone was down to "play" so that helps. We were definitely signing loud with playback on 42nd Street at midnight on a Monday outside a police station…They all took it in stride. I hope it’s a testament to the piece but I’m also pretty good at begging.
5. Has making this film altered the way you connect with people through the various "dating/hook-up" apps out there? As I was writing this, the simple act of having to "get into the other character’s head” on the other side of the conversations, it absolutely made me consider the way I interacted with people digitally. I think my G-manners are better. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with these apps. I just feel they magnify tendencies people already have because of the anonymity of it all. At least in a gay bar you have to look someone in the face when you reject them. And there’s no "block" button.
6. On September 1, you are presenting a special concert of the movie's soundtrack at 54 Below. What are looking forward to most about this concert? Any opportunity for people to hear this music is a happy one. I’m so proud of the songs. I think they’re also doing some of the songs that we had to cut so that’s pretty awesome too. Plus I’m gonna sing a little bit at the end so that’s nerve wracking and fun.
7. What makes 54 Below the perfect venue for this concert? Well it’s super fancy. And the food is delicious. Also, I think they have Bulleit Burbon so their manhattans are great!
8. Who or what inspired you to become a filmmaker? Attention Deficit Disorder and the treatment of same….? My grandfather was a speechwriter for the top brass in the air force and he was an amazing storyteller. From a pretty early age, I knew I liked to both tell and be told stories. My parents also have pretty great taste in movies. They were more likely to restrict what we could watch because it was badly written than for language or violence. (Always for sex though. Sex makes baby Jesus cry).
9. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? How many pages do you have? I love Aaron Sorkin so I want to direct something he wrote someday. Dream big or go home, right?
I’m also late to her particular party, but I’m totally grooving on Ingrid Michaelson right now. Love those boys in A Great Big World. Pink is pretty great. I love songwriters. I’d really like to do more musical movies in one form or another with a bunch of pop writers.
10. What's the best advice you've ever received? Talk to strangers.
11. What have you learned about yourself from being a filmmaker? I can totally survive on Coke Zero and Quest bars for like…11 days.
12. Favorite way to stay in shape? A 5:2 diet and fear.
14. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Stopping time at will. I’d try not to steal things, but it would definitely lead to a life of crime, let’s be honest.
15. If you could be any original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? Cherry!
16. How do you want to be remembered? As a great party guest.