A gay web series set in Philadelphia about life after coming out has won an award in a worldwide avant-garde short-film competition.
“Interested In” won the Best in Merit Award in the Best Shorts Competition’s LGBT short-film category June 19. The Best Shorts Competition recognizes established and up-and-coming film and media makers who submit films or web series that are 57 minutes or less.
“Interested In” chronicles the journey of a college student discovering more about his sexual identity after he comes out. Set in the Gayborhood, the story follows the protagonist, Parker, as he stumbles through various hookup encounters. Parker goes into each encounter unsure of what to expect and leaves with a new understanding of his identity and sexual freedom.
The series was adapted from a play of the same name by its creator, New York-based director, writer and actor Michael Witkes.
“It’s called ‘Interested In’ because of how nervous I was to change my status to ‘interested in men’ when I came out,” Witkes said. “It was so nerve-wracking and a monumental moment. Those simple words meant so much.”
Witkes, who grew up in the Philadelphia area, wrote “Interested In” as a play in his junior year of college. In 2015, brought the play to the Dixon Place’s HOT! Festival in New York and Quince Production’s GayFest! in Philadelphia. Witkes transformed the play into a web series last year, because, he said, the 12-scene play felt more episodic and would work better as a series. Through the help of an Indiegogo crowd-fundraising campaign, Witkes was able to raise more than $5,000 to create the web series.
The series chronicles Witkes’ own journey to understanding what it meant to identify as a gay man while learning the other labels associated with being gay.
“When I came out, I didn’t know how to navigate that confusing and eye-opening time, so I wanted to create something that addressed what happens after someone comes out,” he said. “After coming out, I learned about so many other different labels such as ‘twink,’ ‘bear,’ ‘cubs’ and ‘otters.’ The series unpacks how some people don’t easily fit into a category or don’t identify with the label that everyone else puts on them.”
The five episodes of the series are four-six minutes each, a format the creator said was intentional.
“The episodes are purposely short. Gay-dating culture is a lot of short-term glimpses into people’s lives that oftentimes, in my experience, don’t last beyond a night of hooking up,” Witkes said.