Even as we spoke in our interview, Steven Tylor O’Connor was still putting the finishing touches on his movie, Welcome to New York. I was able to view the screener’s copy and I can only say I’m looking forward to seeing it again at the Tivoli with the audience’s reaction.
O’Connor, who was born in Kansas City, is feeling much the same way. He will be in town for the Kansas City Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and will make a personal appearance to introduce the film. He said he’s anxious to see it in a live audience and see people’s reactions.
“Through comedy,” he said, “it’s really about different experiences. I hope it’s relatable and I hope people really enjoy it.”
O’Connor wrote and directed the film, and he and Sean David co-produced the project.
The film’s lead actor is Sherry Vine, a drag perfomer who is well-known for her funny YouTube song video parodies. She is also known for films, including Wigstock, Stonewall, Scream Teen Scream and A Fairy Tale, a 10-minute film festival short that she did with O’Connor. In Welcome to New York, she plays the role of Dr. Kitty Rosenblatt, a very over-the-top therapist for the movie’s five other main characters.
Set in New York, the film revolves around these five central characters and their comedic problems. We are introduced to them in each one’s therapy session with Rosenblatt.
The five characters are played by Sean Paul Lockhart, Megan Kane, Lauren Ordair, Alex Ringler, Matt Watson and Kansas City native Ashleigh Murray Some may know Lockhart as Brent Corrigan, a former star of gay adult movies. Ordair is actually a New York drag queen, and she plays herself in this highly funny, caustic role. And O’Connor himself has a brief cameo as the roommate of one of the characters.
O’Connor said that after his success with his 10-minute short, A Fairy Tale, he was approached by film festivals asking him what he was doing next.
“I had an idea for a feature, but I was like, well, that’s a little bit too big of a step for me right now. I thought, ‘I want to do another short.’ My co-producer and I were just sort of brainstorming ideas, and he came up with the idea of unique first experiences in New York City.”
O’Connor said they tossed around the idea of Vine being a bartender or building manager interacting with characters.
“And then I was fleshing things out and thought, ‘Oh, she should be a therapist and that these people go to a therapist to cope with these unique experiences. These were also based off of stories that either I myself have experienced, or my co-producer had experienced, or my close circle of friends had experienced.”
He deliberately didn’t portray Vine’s character as a drag queen. “I want it to be like one of those ‘wink-winks’ that the audience knows she’s a drag queen but everyone treats her like a woman.”
O’Connor’s day job is in the casting department at NBC Universal in New York. He moved to New York from Arizona when he was 18 to pursue a two-year acting internship with CBS. He has lived there now for six years and said he’s already been living a bi-coastal life, working out of both the New York and Los Angeles offices.
“This is by far my biggest project,” O’Connor said. “I did A Fairy Tale in under $2,000. With this, we did it around $15,000. We shot six days over three weekends in the city. We’re actually in the process right now of still raising money for post production. I’ve invested roughly $5,000 of my own credit-card debt.”
The movie’s website, www.welcometonewyorkthemovie.com, has a link where people can donate to help raise the funds needed to complete the film.
Welcome to New York will be shown at the Tivoli at 6 p.m. Monday, June 25, as part of the “Local Heroes” evening. O’Connor will introduce this film, and Lexington, Mo., native Nick Corporon will show his films Empire and a hometown preview of Barbie Boy. For more information, visit www.kcgayfilmfest.com.