Local filmmaker brings religion and gays together in Lakeland

By : Christina Diaz
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LAKELAND – A member of a predominantly red city is making a name for himself in the LGBTQ community.

Lakeland resident Kevin O’Brien is a writer and director of a new film called At the End of the Day.

Set in Lakeland, the film is about a LGBTQ support group that is fundraising money for a shelter. Dave, the main character, comes from a conservative Christian home and gets a wakeup call when he interacts with LGBTQ people for the first time.

This dramatic comedy will “be somewhat of a bridge for people who are like me, who have been questioning what we’ve been taught,” said O’Brien.

Numerous ideas presented in the film stem from O’Brien’s life. O’Brien is a straight male that grew up in a conservative Christian home in Lakeland and had very little interaction with the gay community.

“Many of the characters are inspired by my friends or people I’ve met over the past couple of years,” said O’Brien.

After watching the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So, O’Brien said, “something about the tension between the church and the LGBT community, for whatever reason, my heart went there, and that’s what I wanted to be my first movie.”

O’Brien became friends with a lesbian couple at his church. “They started breaking the mold of what we’ve been taught about any other orientation,” he said.

“I think the best way to break the ice with people is with comedy and awkward situations and putting themselves in the main character’s shoes,” said O’Brien.

In the past, O’Brien has made a living off short films. At the End of the Day will be his first feature film.

“I’m constantly between completely overwhelmed and out-of-my-mind excited,” said O’Brien.

Being a first time director, it was hard for O’Brien to find money. But the film must go on and O’Brien was able to fund the film’s production through fundraisers and donations. O’Brien says a crowdfunding site has been set up to raise funds for post-production costs.

“I’ve had a few friends who have not been supportive of it. We’re still friends, but they think we’re making a terrible mistake. I mean, they think we’re barely Christians anymore anyway,” said O’Brien.

Shooting began on Jan. 28 with a $55,000 budget.

Most of the actors are from nearby including Plant City, Clearwater, Tampa and Sarasota. The film contains about 18 cast members, with 15 main characters and five crewmembers.

Once the movie is complete, O’Brien plans to show At the End of the Day at film festivals across the U.S.

Jeremy Williams contributed to this story.

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