Via Beijing Today, which swings by now and then to introduce art and culture around the city.
The bar Alfa was hopping last Friday as actors / patrons gathered for a casting call / fundraiser for indie director Moxie Peng’s newest project, My 17 Gay Friends.
Eighty percent of the night’s collected cover went to support the production.
Attendees had the choice of being a judge or trying out for a role in the film. Judges were given masks to protect their identities and limited to choosing only two candidates.
More than 300 people showed up and raised 13,000 yuan, bringing Peng a step closer to his goal of 76,000 yuan.
“Every backer’s name will be shown at the end of the film,” said Peng, whose 2012 documentary Micro Search was featured on iQiyi.com and viewed a million times. “We also opened our casting to the crowd. Keeping our backers involved in this project is an important part of making this film.”
As on Kickstarter, the most popular crowdfunding platform in the US, projects that fail to reach their goal within the allocated time will not receive any money.
“The platform can help you get started, but you still have to work hard to achieve your funding goal,” Peng said.
Peng grew up in rural Hunan province and loved telling stories as a child. He spun yarns to entertain his neighbors while they played mahjong.
His latest story is an avant-garde short that digs into Beijing’s gay scene.
“Most gay films are gloomy, dark and depressed,” Peng said. “I want to show the optimistic, light-hearted side of gay life.”
The planned 20-minute film will offer glimpses into the lives of 17 of Peng’s friends, showing their personalities, living situations, and love lives.
The film takes lighthearted jabs at many of the stereotypes and labels that cut across gay society, such as concepts of femininity and masculinity.
It opens with one gay relationship that is breaking down in its fourth year. After years of compromising, the couple has to come to terms with the fact neither wants to be the “man” in the relationship.
The dispute comes to a head on Halloween night, when they fight over which of them will dress as Snow White and which as Prince Charming. In the end, one dresses up as Snow White and the other as Snow White’s evil stepmother.
With their relationship in shambles, the two talk to sister Zhixin, who knows everyone in the gay community and offers comfort and advice.
The film’s Dreamore campaign began in October and closes later this month. Shooting is scheduled to begin in January at 10 locations across the city.
“It’s hard [for indie films] to play at the cinemas, but I guess more people will get to see it when we put it online,” Peng said.
Those interested in supporting the project have until December 31 to donate on Dreamore.
This post originally appeared on Beijing Today.