Western alumni debuts first short film

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Imagine having to find two straight men that would be willing to kiss each other on camera and actually look like they like it? This was the task of Missouri Western graduate Joseph Franklin, who debuted his first short film in Kansas City this past week entitled “A Guy For Me.”

Alex J. Michaels and Kevin Britton deliver a passionate kiss in Western alumni Joseph Franklin's first film "A Guy For Me."
Alex J. Michaels and Kevin Britton deliver a passionate kiss in Western alumni Joseph Franklin’s first film “A Guy For Me.”

“They didn’t even rehearse the kiss,” Franklin said. “They just did it. It had to be [in one shot].”

Franklin, a 2010 graduate, wrote the original play three years ago yet added some bits and pieces along the way to truly make some heads spin. The most head turning part in the film involves a passionate kiss by the two men, which was something that was not the easiest to portray.

“I feel it put a big spin to it because it left the audience questioning,” Franklin said. “They wanted to know what happened between them two and where does it go from there. That wasn’t expected, where in other love films you know what’s going to happen.”

On top of the hard task of casting two men for such a steamy scene, Franklin also had a lot on his plate such as writing the script, shooting, directing, producing and editing, as well as promoting the film and finding a venue to host his release. Franklin took on a tremendous amount of tasks and duties as today’s directors usually have an entire crew to help do all of this work.

“It’s time schedules, it’s rehearsals, its booking venues, it’s very hard,” Franklin said. “You got to have a passion for it and love doing it.”

Franklin was very happy and a bit surprised at his big audience turnout. The movie was released at “The View,” a big community center in Grandview, Mo. At the film’s start, every seat was taken and some people were even standing in the back.

“I’m glad this many people came,” Franklin said. “It was a full house and I believe I sold out.”

The 50-minute film revolves around Sheri, an average young black woman who’s no different from the rest of the single girls in the world, just looking for a special someone to love her. In the first scene, Sheri, played by Kansas City native and aspiring actress Nahmel Simmons, appears to be on a really cute date. She then runs to the bathroom and suddenly bumps into William – a tall, dark and handsome man whose broad shoulders and cute smile seem to make Sheri quickly forget about the lonely date who’s still waiting on her. However, Sheri keeps it casual and classy and though she seems interested in William, who is played by Kevin Britton, she doesn’t give him her number. That is until they bump into each other again and again.

As the movie continues, the audience discovers that Sheri was not really on a romantic date but was out with a close friend, Ricky, played by Alex J. Michaels, who later reveals that he wants her as more than a friend and has wanted her for years. Sheri soon finds herself in a crazy love triangle between her close friend and William, who quickly becomes Sheri’s love interest. The movie soon heats up even more when Ricky questions his feelings and sexuality and kisses William very unexpectedly. From there, the movie becomes a nail-biting whirlwind of high emotions, intensity and pain as all three characters put their true feelings out there but seem to quickly have their hearts broken.

“I liked the plot of it and the storyline. I didn’t suspect that twist that [Ricky] was gay,” audience member Yolanda Jackson said. “My favorite part was when [Sheri] said ‘I’ve know him all my life. I never suspected that.’ I thought that was kind of funny. I knew the first scene,” Jackson said jokingly about knowing Ricky’s sexuality.

Through the high emotion, there was also a lot of comedy that really kept the audience laughing and cheering.

“I liked the funny parts. It was surprising when he went in for that kiss,” audience member Torin Hamlett said. “[My favorite part] was when Ricky was making moves.”

Chemistry was another task that had to be developed between all three of the characters so the audience would really believe that the emotions were real. Simmons, who was also Franklin’s assistant director in addition to having the leading role, explained that the chemistry between the cast was very natural which made her character come to life a lot easier.

“Somehow it all just kind of works out,” Simmons said. “[Franklin] is a great casting director as well because it just fit. Everything just flowed. It was like a family.”

Simmons included that playing Sheri was pretty natural for her because she went through a personal situation very similar to the one Sheri was in.

“Some of the scenes Sheri kind of reminded me of myself at one point in my life,” Simmons said. “I was kind of myself at one point. [The hardest part] was kissing the guys. We’re like fiancés and girlfriends and that was kind of weird. It’s a lot of hard work but when you enjoy what you do, it’s not such a challenge. It’s more fun then anything.”

As his first film jitters are now out of the way, Franklin is already working and holding auditions in late April for his next film, “King’s Daughter,” a story of a young girl who’s crying out for attention from her father. Franklin is hoping for more community support and another full house in the audience. He hopes the crowd will be as surprised as they were for this film.

(Left to Right) Joseph Franklin poses with actors Alex J. Michaels, Kevin Britton and Nahmel Simmons at his movie release.
(Left to Right) Joseph Franklin poses with actors Alex J. Michaels, Kevin Britton and Nahmel Simmons at his movie release.

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