Writer/Director Russell P. Marleau gives the John Hughes-styled high school comedy a queer twist in this touching coming-of-age tale. It's the 1980's, when new wave angst and gender-bending fashion were all the rage. The new kid at school Chance Marquis (Tad Hilgenbrinck of American Pie Presents: Band Camp), however is out, his being gay, somewhat awkward teenager makes him the target of the school bully. To deal with this dilemma, Chance turns to the opposite end of the high school spectrum for help. On one end is the flamboyant drag queen and at the other, the varsity jock, Levi Sparks (Brett Chukerman of Eating Out 2) on whom Chance has a bit of a crush. Chockfull of the comic conventions of the high school genre - the idiot faculty, the good-hearted but delusional parents, the fairy tale reversal of popularity - The Curiosity of Chance is a frothy bit of nostalgic filmmaking. But like with the best of John Hughes, knowing the genre doesn't mean its story won't also touch your heart.

As a script alone, The Curiosity of Chance started as an experiment to accomplish several things: create a teen-comedy unique in it's voice, but still familiar in themes; to pay my own respect to some of the great teen films I grew up loving and which influenced me; and lastly to put a young gay character front and center, without the issue of sexuality being what everything hangs on.  (Yet still keep it integral to the story.)  The Curiosity of Chance could on one hand be defined as a coming-out story, but not in the expected turmoil-and-angst-filled way one might expect.  In that regard, Chance (the character) is already 'out' -- the issue of his sexuality a foregone conclusion from the start of the film -- which makes his 'coming-out' odyssey more about finding himself, and his true voice.  Chance's struggle -- like so many teenagers' -- is one of finding acceptance at a time when you're figuring out who you really are; even if that person is wildly different than anyone else around you.  For Chance, he has the added burden of being an 'out' gay teenager in a world that isn't all that accepting, while discovering and trying to find footing in a world that is.  

The opportunity to take this project from script to screen was a chance to try -- in a single film -- some of the things I've always loved about cinema.  Creating and writing teen characters has always been fun for me and let's face it, high school is a microcosm of life.  Being able to re-create a high-school experience with a wisdom and perspective that didn't exist when I was living it, is akin to writing an autobiography that I wish I'd lived.  And we'd all love to re-write parts of our own histories once in a while.  Adding in a musical element -- both in soundtrack songs and on-screen performances -- was another challenge I'd always wanted to tackle.  Setting the film in the 80s, and at an international high school were the most autobiographical parts of the story -- maybe something to personalize it a bit more for myself and to create a more pointed love-letter to the classic teen-comedies of that decade (thank you John Hughes).  But beyond that, the story and characters are creations from my imagination, all combining in an attempt to capture an emotion, a moment, and ultimately a truth about navigating the turbulent teen years.

Having worked in the entertainment world for a while now, I fully expected a long haul before ever cobbling the money together to make this film -- a script I felt strongly about directing myself.  But a funny thing happened on the way to Making-An-Indie-Film-Frustrationville (yes, that's a real place): the greenlight and money came together at an alarming speed that took me by surprise.  And in this case I don't think it was due to any perceived 'genius' in the writing or my 'take' on how I would direct it, but moreso like everything in Hollywood, I happened to be at the right place, at the right time, with the right project.  (And know the right people.)

So thanks to the willingness of executive producers Michael Gleissner and Kacy Andrews to take a chance on this story (and me as a director), I teamed up with my friend, and fearless producer, Lisa Schahet -- to make the film a reality with a scant 6 weeks for pre-production.  That would include practically round-the-clock casting sessions in LA to find our two leads (which included a 'Chance' who could actually sing), plus more casting (for just about every other role) in Belgium, only 4 weeks before we had to start shooting.  But what at many times was the most stress-inducing part of the production , turned out to be the most satisfying.  I love the cast that came together to make this film -- and loved every day of being on set and working with them.  From the greenest-of-the-green to our most seasoned vet, everyone put forward an amazing amount of effort and talent, and took this little story to another level I could barely have imagined only a month before we started filming.  I could write a story on every single one of them, each with a unique history and personal style.  But as I look at the finished film today, the greatest compliment I can extend to any of them is that I can't possibly imagine any other actor playing their particular part.  They found a way to own it; taking what was on the page (and in my head), and making it better, sharper, funnier and more emotional.  

The look of what I wanted the film to be was equally as important as the cast and I quickly realized the script I had written was ambitious for the budget we had.  But I decided to be stubborn about trying to achieve it (instead of scaling back), and thankfully never once did our collaborators back away from the challenge.  Instead, they not only rose to it but surpassed it.   And so all in thanks to our dept. heads: D.P. Jack Messitt, Production Designer Kurt Rigolle, Costume Designer Lorette Meus, Hair & Make-up Stylist Frank Wolleghem, editor Mark Rees, (and their respective 'crews') and our music wizards (Cathy Duncan, Christopher Henry, Joey Peters and Willie Aron), what they ultimately accomplished in creating the 'look and feel' of this film -- on the budget we had -- was nothing short of astonishing.

Despite its period nostalgia, I endeavored for the final film to resonate in a way that feels timeless.  So that whether you're a teenager living through high-school hell right now, just stepped out of it, or you're a 10, 20 or even 30-year reunion removed from your graduation, you'll find things in this story and these characters that are relatable.  It was never my intent to shy away from Chance's sexuality, far from it.  But I did ask myself: was there a way to make a teen-comedy that could appeal to an audience -- gay and straight, male and female, young and older -- and be enjoyed by all on a level that transcends sexuality?  My hope is that no matter your age, ethnicity, sexual orientation -- whatever -- that this is a story and characters that entertain you.  If everyone seeing The Curiosity of Chance exits the theater with no more than a comment along the lines of: "That was a fun and entertaining way to spend 90 minutes", I'll feel as if I've done my job as a filmmaker.  If they take away more from it than that, then all the better.

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