Honey Pot – how a project came to life.

Four years ago, I wrote the script of a short gay film that would show two men dancing in a public toilet. My friend Nghi, whom I’d met by chance at a screenwriters meetup, was interested in the storyline, and offered to produce it. We gathered a small team, found a location, negotiated hard for a permit, and shot the whole thing three and a half years ago. The film screened at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was later selected for the Verona and Mumbai Queer Film Festivals.

Two years ago, Nghi decided to put Honey Pot on youtube. We were not going to sell it, and had exhausted the festival circuit. A month later, our film had received over 10,000 views – and we were exhilarated! That was more viewers than fifty festivals. And then the number grew. 50,000. 100,000. Last I saw, we were over 2 million. More people have seen this film than live in South Australia, Stockholm or Dublin – and with 2000 to 3000 views a day, we’ll soon overtake Manchester, Budapest or Vienna.

This is the power of the net. What was just an idea four years ago, with very minimal budget – 3000 dollars, which we’ve since covered through youtube ads – we’ve reached out over 2 million people, generated hundreds of comments, and become part of debates and discussions about male desire, police abuse, and the perception of Asian gay men. We spent no money marketing or promoting the piece – it resonated enough with people that they sent a link or told their friends about it.

This little video, and the story of its online success, is one of my great pleasures. When I doubt about the success of my current projects – I think back on Honey Pot, and how, within four years, a few words on a page became images seen by over 2 million people over the world. It’s happened, it could happen again. It’s taken time, other things will. And if all fails, at least, I’ve made this little film, which people have enjoyed. It’s also taught me something else: many viewers were in countries I never thought of – Indonesia, Philippines, even Saudi Arabia. There’s an audience beyond the North Atlantic – and maybe we should think of them when we shoot, write, paint, or edit. At least, from now on, I do!

For those of you who haven’t seen it yet – here’s the video. If you like it – send a link to your friends!

Chinese water land

The pace of Chinese city life can quickly get exhausting – noise, pollution, and people everywhere need some antidote. My lovely friend Aaron found a perfect solution: a trip to Chaobai Xinhe, some 30 km north of Tianjin – a peaceful landscape of marshland and lakes, with long horizons, reflecting skies, and soft wind in the branches. Enjoy the view!

Hanging out at the Ming Gate

If you’ve ever wondered what happens on a sunny afternoon in a Chinese city – this video will show you. Two days ago, I went out for a walk with two friends around the ‘Gu Gong’ area – ruins of a Ming dynasty palace in the centre of Nanjing. Locals were enjoying life, dancing and playing music under 14th century stone arches, bringing memories of Rome, Aigues Mortes, Athens and other places I love along the coast of the Mediterranean.

New developments – new possibilities

I just had a nice lunch with Nghi, discussing the possibility of shooting two ‘bush horror’¬† movies later this year, or early next year. Guerilla low budget filming: two times 45 minutes, $5,000. But, well, maybe we can make it happen? I would be the director – he’s got a crime writer working on the script. And – guess what – one of the scripts has a gay character.

Honey Pot is going to Verona

Nghi had yet another random piece of news a few days ago: the director of the Verona Video Festival saw Honeypot on the self-service computers of the Clermont-Ferrand short film festivals, and decided he wanted it in his festival. So there we are, after India, we’re hitting Italy, yeah!

For someone who wants to write romantic comedies, having my first film showing in the capital of Bollywood, and the city of Romeo and Juliet bodes well for the future :-).