Synopsis: Bobby is a freshman in college. He misses his highschool popularity and he’ll do anything to make new friends. A satirical comparison of the health films of the 40’s and contemporary conservative values, “Popularity” is social education for today.
UPDATE: I wrote that description 20 years ago. I can’t believe how well it has held up. Which is very disappointing.
Making Popularity: I once saw a 1940 health film called “Are you popular?” on Night Flight (the predecessor of USA Up All Night.) It’s about two girls, one who parks with boys to be popular, and one who doesn’t. Naturally, the chaste girl is the one boys really like. “Are you popular?” started a fascinated with America as seen through the social education films from the 1930’s and 40’s. My fascination led to “Popularity.
“Popularity” was produced as a period piece, using 1940’s film technology and locations that include a 40’s diner and a 1941 Dodge convertible.
Festival Scene: Popularity made the rounds of quite a few festivals. The thing that surprised me most, though, was that “straight” festivals, the most notable being Sundance, frequently rejected the piece because the found it homophobic. I still have the letter, not a form letter, from Sundance telling me they didn’t support hateful content like mine. Meanwhile, the gay festivals loved it, and quite a few reached out to me to get it programmed into their events. Go figure. Here’s a partial list of where it played:
Honorable Mention 1996 Rosebud Festival
Honorable Mention 20th Annual Atlanta Film and Video Festival
Narrative Prize Winner 1996 Athens International Film Festival
Featured Work Adam Barren Honolulu Gay And Lesbian Film Festival
Featured Work San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Film Festival FRAMELINE
Featured Work Out on Screen Outfest 1996 Los Angeles
Featured Work Austin Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
Featured Work Great Lakes Film and Video Festival
Featured Work Reel Affirmations Washington, DC Oct. 10 – 20
Featured Work British Film Institute 1997
Featured Work Isis Festival 1997
Featured Work Image Union, Chicago 1997
Featured Work Melbourne Australia Film Festival 1997
Featured Work TURKU Festival, Finland 1997