How much abuse can one person take? That’s exactly the question that’s answered in Victimized, an independent film premiering at the Clearwater Cinema Cafe on Saturday, Sept. 27.
Michael Kenneth Fahr began work on the film in 2002 as a college student. The original version was very short, but the Connecticut native says he knew he always wanted to extend it into a full-length feature.
Victimized tells the story of Matt Miller, a gay teen who feels all his problems and insecurities stem from his brother and his constant bullying. One night Matt snaps and decides that instead of killing himself out of depression, he is going to get rid of his brother and, in effect, erase his problems.
“It feels really great to finally be able to share it with everyone, but I’m slightly terrified,” says Fahr, who celebrates his birthday the same night as the debut.
Fahr not only wrote and directed the film—he also stars as Matt. Fahr, who is also gay, says his character isn’t mentally stable because of the constant bullying and persecution from everyone, especially his own brother about his sexuality, among many other things. Matt feels victimized—hence, the film’s title—and takes matters into his own hands.
“When I recently let a friend watch the film, they made a good point that I never thought about,” Fahr says. “He said it was the first time in a gay film where he remembered the main character really doing something about the situation they were in, instead of just taking it and beating themselves up over it.”
Fahr also said that he thinks his this film is different than other with gay characters because it’s theme is a mix of horror, thriller and drama, which you don’t see involving gay characters often.
“The film isn’t ‘about him being gay’ or ‘coming out;’ the story is just about him and his feelings and his family and what happens to all of them that night he decides to take matters into his own hands,” Fahr says. “I hope audiences like it; it is a film for everyone, but I especially hope the gay community really likes it and sees that I was trying to do something different than the stereotypical gay film.”
He also said that having a gay male lead in his movie shows the change in view of the LGBT community.
“I think having a real strong gay male lead that isn’t a stereotypical ‘leading man’ in a film is a very important step for gay cinema and storytelling,” Fahr says. “My hope is people will just see him and his situation and not care that the lead guy is gay, but feel empathy for him and actually, secretly be rooting him on.”
Fahr says the script and characters have evolved over the years, especially Matt, who was originally a heterosexual character.
“Originally when it was written for my story development class back in 2002, there were only four characters; and Matt was actually straight,” Fahr recalls. “But to reference Walt Disney, to me, Matt is my Mickey and I feel that I know him inside and out and maybe in some weird way he is an altered, twisted version of myself. So, Matt evolved with me and years later when I went back into the script to turn it into a feature, characters were added, plot twists were changed and Matt, now like myself, ended up being gay.”
He was inspired to turn the short flick into a movie after meeting a fellow filmmaker, Dustin Hubbard, who is the executive producer of Victimized, while working at Blockbuster Video while in college.
“We got along instantly because of our love of movies and he was into independent horror-type of films,” Fahr says. “At the time I didn’t really know a whole lot about low budget films. He showed me a lot.”
Fahr began looking for actors to play the 10 characters in his script and began filming. He planned on filming in Connecticut, his home state, but had to cast the actors from Florida. Casting turned out to be a bit difficult, especially with the lead character and script having a gay-focus.
“I had auditioned a handful of people that were all on board until they read the script,” Fahr says. “I guess they were offended by the story, language and Matt, which was never my intention in writing it. I was told that my story was homophobic, which to me is hilarious because if my lead character is gay and myself as the writer is gay, how can my story be homophobic?”
Cuyle Carvin plays Matt’s older brother, Josh. He was cast without meeting Fahr but said being a part of this movie was great and the cast, especially Fahr, worked really hard.
“I play the older brother to Michael’s character,” Carvin says. “I’m a jerk, I’m a bully—I say and do some pretty rotten things to him. Eventually I push him over the edge of his sanity and he takes revenge in a pretty awesome way that filming horror movies can allow.
“Michael is an awesome guy and I think he really made a great project to showcase himself. He was great on set and I think his performance will be awesome. It’s a lot of work to write, star, and produce the same film, no matter the magnitude of the budget.
Fahr says he hopes his film will bring to light some of the ridicule the LGBT community deals with.
“Some of the rude things some of the characters in the movie say to Matt or about Matt were once said to me,” Fahr says. “Over the past few years, there have been a lot of cases of bullying that have gotten a lot of publicity. That’s no different from what Matt went through. He was bullied to the point of snapping but, in his case, the bully was his own brother.”
Fahr said that he thinks that a person can only take so much before reaching their breaking point like how Matt reached his.
“It bares the question who is the real victim?” Fahr asks “Who is the one really being victimized?”
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 27
WHERE: Clearwater Cinema Cafe, 24095 US 19 North, Clearwater