With a whopping eleven Audience Award wins under his belt - including one from this year's Tribeca Film Festival - Any Day Now's director and co-writer Travis Fine is more than willing to admit that he's created a "crowd-pleaser." But more importantly, it's a direly-needed exploration of a gay couple's fight against institutionalized prejudice in order to maintain legal custody of a mentally-handicapped teenager.
We chatted about the current climate of LGBT rights, how Fine managed to avoid Hollywood clichés, and finally, what its really like working with "whip-smart" actor Alan Cumming:
What inspired you to make Any Day Now?
I read the original screenplay from the late 70s by George Arthur Bloom and was immediately moved by the relationship between Rudy and the young boy. But I knew that if I was going to direct the picture, there were additional elements that I wanted to include, that made the story more personal to me. Thankfully, George was willing to give me free rein to rewrite the script as I saw fit.
What was the most challenging aspect of authentically portraying a gay couple on screen?
There is no more challenge to authentically portraying a gay couple than there is to portraying a straight couple. In both instances, I try to create relationships and moments that are real, connected, and human. Thankfully, the actors I was working with were not only immensely talented, but fearless.
Was it hard to avoid Hollywood cliches and conventional stereotypes?
Given the fact that we were making a truly independent film with private equity financing, I was pretty much free to tell my story without having to worry about that.
What were you trying to achieve with the film: a political statement about gay rights?
I was trying to explore a love story between three people that, on the surface, are very unlikely to fall in love. I knew that if we were successful in creating characters and a storyline that the audience could connect with, the political aspect of the film would be an inherent part of the viewing experience...and would hopefully change audience members's minds about LGBT equality, or further solidify their support.
Have you been surprised by audience feedback?
Yes, very much so. The story of two gay men trying to adopt a special needs child is not exactly something I would've expected to be a "crowd pleaser". So when we won The Audience Award for Best Picture at the Tribeca Film Festival, I was quite surprised. With each successive win, I realized that we had succeeded in creating a picture that moved people, that made them laugh and think. That's been one of the most satisfying aspects of the entire experience for me.
Despite being set in the 70s, do you think Any Day Now's story is still politically relevant today, in terms of the LGBT rights struggle?
Yes. There are still many places in the world (including the US) where gay adoption is difficult or impossible, where a person's sexual orientation can get them killed. Until there is equality for all, regardless of their orientation, skin color, religion, and gender - until every person is judged, as Dr. King put it, according to "the content of their character" - this story is relevant.
What was it like working with Alan Cumming?
Alan is whip-smart, exceptionally talented, and immensely charming. He brought the main character Rudy to life in a way that was grandly powerful and deeply personal. It's quite simply a brilliant performance.
What's your next project?
A drama about three middle-aged women who get their rock band back together, to find out if it's ever "too late."
Travis Fine's Any Day Now is now playing in UK cinemas.
All photos courtesy of Peccadillo Press.