Getting Bad With Todd Verow
BY GARY M. KRAMER | Todd Verow’s terrific intimate drama “Bad Boy Street” opens with Claude (Yann de Monterno) literally picking up a stranger named Brad (Kévin Miranda), who is passed out on the streets in Paris. The next day, the two men get to know each other and develop a strong romantic attachment. Brad, however, has a secret — one best left for audiences to discover — that may jeopardize their relationship.
Verow, working at the height of his powers, has created a highly enjoyable film — funny, sexy, and romantic. He spoke about “Bad Boy Street” in a recent phone interview.
Indie filmmaker goes intimate and romantic
GARY M. KRAMER: So I’m curious, have you ever literally been picked up off the street, like Brad is — completely wasted and with no ID?
TODD VEROW: Hasn’t everyone been picked up off the street like that? It’s happened to me several times in my youth, which is part of my inspiration for the film. The worst time was when I was in London for a semester, and I literally woke up the next day in someone’s apartment while they were fucking me!
GMK: Wow! Wasn’t expecting that answer! How much of you is reflected in this film? What would you do in Claude or Brad’s situation — finding a handsome stranger, falling in love, and then facing an obstacle?
TV: When I was in Brad’s situation, it was always “Get the hell out and never come back!” I never thought it would become a relationship. But if I put myself in Claude’s position, I could see something developing. It’s an interesting way to meet someone. Whenever you meet someone and have a physical, emotional, chemical reaction, there’s always a possibility it could become something more.
GMK: Do you consider yourself a romantic, or is love impractical? In other words, are you on Team Claude or Team Brad?
TV: I think I am a romantic, and I do believe that love is something you can’t go looking for or try to find, you have to let it happen. In the same way, you have to realize there are obstacles and either overcome them or have them stop you from finding love. I am an old softy romantic. Jadedness comes from being disappointed and seeing people’s flaws. As a romantic, you expected everyone to be perfect, and no one is so you become jaded.
GMK: Let’s move from love to sex. The leads here are both irresistibly attractive, and the sex in “Bad Boy Street” is sweet, tender, and sensual, not raw or explicit like in many of your films. How or why did you tone things down?
TV: I consciously wanted to — it was a challenge for me to step back from the usual graphic sex and do something more romantic and sexy. But sex is the nature of their relationship. Initially Brad is incapacitated — Claude takes care of him. And Brad returns the favor by servicing him in the morning. I wasn’t holding back — the sex is more what the characters would have. Brad’s probably been in this situation before and it’s always a sexual situation; it’s how he overcomes his closetedness — getting wasted, fucked up, and having sex. He takes advantage of this situation and sucks off this hot guy.
GMK: Not to give too much away, but Brad is closeted for work. As such, “Bad Boy Street” may be the closest thing to your coming out film. Can you discuss this point?
TV: His closetedness isn’t his own; it’s imposed on him, but not a decision that he makes himself. His struggle is “Do I do this for my career?” or “Am I true to myself and out about sexuality to the detriment of my career and position?”
GMK: There is a moral issue raised with Brad’s situation, but it’s mostly left for the audience to determine how they would react — if they would do what Claude does. Despite the film’s specificity, the particulars have broader implications, which is why viewers pull for the couple to be together. How did you approach this topic?
TV: Their situation is unique, but a lot of gay people face this issue on different levels — being closeted at work or to your family. Gay men have so many things to overcome in relationships, where do you draw the line and say enough is enough and I’m not going to continue with it? Everybody has secrets and things they don’t want other people to know or are ashamed of, and that’s a big part of relationships — accepting other people’s flaws and problems.
GMK: You have a very amusing cameo in the film. Usually, you star in your films. Did you not want to or were you not able to play either of the leads?
TV: From the beginning, this was conceived for Yann to play the lead. It took us a long time to find Kévin. I knew I’d be the evil American influence. That was a lot of fun to play.
GMK: Claude is older than your usual protagonists. Are you moving into a more mature direction with your work?
TV: Maybe. I’m getting older myself and more mature, so I can relate to Claude. After making a series of dark films, I wanted to do something a little happier, more grounded.
GMK: How long did it take to shoot “Bad Boy Street”?
TV: Nine days. I pretty much got to Paris, spent a day talking with the actors, and started shooting the next day. No breaks. It worked in our favor, though. It could have easily fallen apart, with a lost location or a mix up. But Yann and I planned it all out.
GMK: Would you ever want to make a film like this with name actors? Why do you choose to work in microbudget cinema?
TV: Gee… the great thing about making this was it was three actors and me. It was intimate and special. I think I would have no problem with working on bigger projects, but on my terms. I’d want a small crew and really work with the actors on a personal level. That’s why I choose to do the things I do, because that’s how I like to work. The problem with going bigger is that there are so many people involved. That stuff bores me so much. I had lots of meetings after “Frisk,” and I’ve known so many filmmakers who have gone on to bigger projects but miss their small projects.
GMK: Paris practically plays a character in your film. What did you want to show with all of these urban moments?
TV: I wanted it to be a combination of a tourist perspective, but also what it’s like to actually live there — the day-to-day grind of being a Parisian. From going there and being in relationship with Parisians, and Yann and Florence [d’Azemar, who plays his best friend] do as Parisians. It’s sort of like living in New York. When you live there, the day-to-day is work and oppressive; then you see a building and it’s that beautiful!
GMK: Last question. Are you like Claude in that you hate birthdays?
TV: I love birthdays! It’s an excuse to be on your worst behavior. You can get away with anything — be in a bad mood, have sex with anyone you want. And I love cake!
GMK: You are a bad boy!
BAD BOY STREET | Directed by Todd Verow | TLA Releasing | DVD on sale Jan. 22 | tlareleasing.com