At the End of the Day is a feature-length comedy written and directed by Kevin O’Brien. Here’s my interview with Kevin:
Frank Tell me about yourself?
I’m a filmmaker in central Florida. I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for 14 years and we have three kids in the third grade (yup). I got into filmmaking a bit late, and made a full time job out of it at 31 years old. I feel strongly about not making “safe” films, and it seemed to that a lot of faith-based media was incredibly safe.
I am also an LGBT Ally, and this did not happen overnight. I grew up in a Pentecostal church and graduated from a Pentecostal college. I thought “love the sinner, hate the sin” was a loving approach. It wasn’t until my wife and I started experiencing life and honoring the stories of others that we learned how hurtful that phrase can be.
A few years ago we asked ourselves what it would look like in our family if one of our children came out. This sent us into years of research, listening, and opening our hearts. And I feel like this film is a child birthed out of those years of growth.
Tell me about your movie project?
At The End Of The Day is a dramatic comedy about a fundamentalist professor at a Christian college who experiences a profound change when he finds himself undercover in a gay support group to foil their launch of an LGBT homeless teen shelter.
I knew from the start that with such a heavy topic as LGBT/Church tensions and LGBT homeless teens, that comedy was the best way to go. Comedy has this way of breaking the ice and opening hearts. Putting a conservative Christian in the middle of a gay support group seemed to allow for all sorts of awkward and comical moments.
Dave Hopper is the main character, and he has lost everything. His wife left him. His counseling practice shut down. He is verging on bankruptcy . He returns to his hometown to live with his eccentric Aunt Patty and takes a job as a psych professor at his Alma Mater – a small Christian college.
The school has plans for expansion, but the building they need has been willed to an LGBT support group. They just have to raise the funds to cover the taxes. In an effort to discover their progress, Dave inadvertently and awkwardly becomes part of the group.
For the first time in his life, he is face-to-face with the people he has been counseling against his whole adult life, as well as the unintended victims of such counseling. Through humor and turmoil, Dave realizes that often things aren’t as black and white as he’d like them to be.
Tell me about homeless LGTBQ youth?
This is really the heart behind the film. Approximately 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. That number is way out of proportion when most estimates put LGBT demographics at around 6%.
Most of this is due to rejections by parents when teens come out as any sort of sexual or gender “other.” And this reality makes it even harder for youth in welcoming homes to come out. You can imagine the fear a teen has. They feel like they have to choose between coming out and moving out. This tension is also a major cause of depression and suicide.
Another challenge for these teens is finding a shelter. A large number of homeless shelters are religion based – which means historically they do not welcome LGBT persons. It’s really a mess.
There have been a number of LGBT specific youth shelters spring up around the country, but these are few and far between. The film centers around this support group launching such a shelter, and some of their challenges and triumphs along the way.
How are you going to avoid making this a too obvious and heavy handed “message” movie?
Hopefully I’ve been able to do that with the way the story plays out. This concern has been on my mind since the beginning, and I’ve worked hard to create unique and grounded characters who have their own issues and perspectives. There is certainly a message to this film, but it’s not that “gays are good” and “Christians are bad.” I hope the message is that things like sexual or gender orientation are more complicated than many of us like to think. And maybe it’s time we stop trying to provide answers. Maybe it’s time we ask questions and take the time to listen to the answer.
There is a fine line for me to take with this film. The conservative Christians would like me to make a film about loving LGBT people but not approving of that sexual behavior or same sex marriage. The LGBT community would like me to make a film about how close-minded Christians are. The reality is somewhere in between. It’s more complicated than that, because people and sexuality are complicated.
I came to terms with myself a while ago that this is the story I must tell, and I am going to tell the best story I can with the resources I have.
In the end, I know some may interpret this as heavy handed. If so, may the heavy-handed message they hear be one of love and grace.
How can we help get this movie made?
Please go to my Kickstarter page and respond. Watch the clip and help out. Thank you. Here’s the link Http://endofthedayfilm.com/kick
Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book —WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace