One of the centerpiece films at QFlix this year is writer/director/star Brandon Ruckdashel’s “Grinder.” Not to be confused with the popular dating app, this low-budget film has the ambitious teen Luke (Tyler Austin) wanting to be a male model. He arrives in New York and meets Rick (the terrific Jon Fleming), a sinister agent whose main photographer, Tim (Ruckdashel), is coming to terms with his sexuality. How the men’s lives and sexualities play out make up this intriguing film.
PGN: How did you come up with the idea for “Grinder”?
BR: It comes from a lot of my background coming from the industry. I had an experience with an agent who tried to coerce me into being sexually assaulted. I’ve never had trouble exposing real moments or interactions, or have any fear in doing that as an actor or as a creative. You see it in indie films — people are scared of jumping into the conflict. Our duty is to go to the root of the conflict, no matter how dirty it is. Originally the film was more of a sexploitation film.
PGN: Is that why you wrote a role for yourself in “Grinder”?
BR: Originally I wrote it and [wanted] someone else in the role, but I had trouble finding an actor. I was working with a director but felt they couldn’t meet the quality I wanted, so I decided to take over directing. I was supposed to direct and not act, then the reverse, and then I ended up doing both.
PGN: Do you see your film as a cautionary tale to stop the kind of bad behavior on display in “Grinder”?
BR: I don’t believe it will stop because there will be someone younger, hungrier and have more drive than you, and they will be hotter than you and they will use what they have to get it themselves.