July 5, 2008
Yuri from Russia writes:
In Russia, my home country, QAF has never been and never will be aired on television or made available on licensed DVD due to the pandemic traditional homophobia indefatigably nurtured and nourished by the fascist government and equally fascist Russian Orthodox Church.
The most advanced groups of our society, however, have had a chance to see the show on pirated DVDs with the most dreadful translation I have ever heard in my life done by some guy who dubbed every role in the show in a monotonous nasal emotion-free voice. I am luckier than most of those who have seen it here because I speak decent English and I have had a chance to buy the original DVD box sets on Amazon.com. By now I have seen all five seasons. The show is very good quality - it was well written, well acted, and well budgeted (for the most part). I was rather amazed, in fact, that a small cable TV company had been able to accomplish such a daring and large-scale project.
Below are my questions for you. I realize they may sound grossly belated, if not entirely ancient history to you, and I do apologize if they happen to irritate you, but we in Russia are only catching up with the show now and I hope you will find the time to answer them.
1) The word on the Internet is that at the outset of QAF the main cast was poorly paid but as the show progressed over the years your wages grew to become rather handsome - hence the fewer episodes in each subsequent season. In fact, after QAF wrapped up, Randy Harrison bought a house in NYC and Peter Paige used what was left of his wages to make "Say "Uncle!". What did you do with your QAF fortune, such as it was, after you finished working on the show?
Oddly enough I invested all my money in Russian TV. No WONDER I haven’t seen a return on that investment. No, seriously after watching friends of mine make poor choices after landing a windfall I knew that I wanted to invest most of my money so that I would be able to ride out whatever “transition” period there might be after QAF (so that I could afford to take on projects without concern of financial gain from them). I bought a nice, comfortable house and sent the rest to my Financial Adviser to take care of. He’s done an amazing job and so far all is well.
2) Apart from some very specific bits of the show that can be clearly identified to have been shot using a small video camera, was QAF mostly shot on film or digital video? My eye is too undiscerning to tell them apart, but I am curious because these two media imply rather different production processes, not to mention budgets. An answer to this question would clarify a number of other questions which I do not dare ask you herein.
We shot on 16mm film that was then transferred to video (and HD video when that came out) for the first four seasons of the show. The final season was shot directly on HD video and meant a big change for our D.P. Thom Best and our makeup artists.
3) I also noticed that certain shots were not crisp enough, sometimes even to the point of being almost out of focus although the scene, as it seemed to me, did not warrant "special effects". Still, a number of such grainy and even somewhat out-of-focus shots ended up in the final cut. Why?
It was a deliberate choice to try and give the show the gritty look of an indie film. Most of our directors were the top indie film directors in Canada (we shot the show in Toronto) and they each brought their own aesthetic to their episodes. Some, like Bruce McDonald have a very unique visual style that I know annoyed some viewers because they were used to TV shows looking like TV shows. I personally loved the risks all our directors took to make the show look like something more than standard TV.
4) It warmed my heart to see your character realize at the end of the final season that his sense of self and his happiness was to come from within himself, rather than exterior sources. I find it a logical and quite satisfactory ending of the story for Ted's character. I suppose that Melanie and Lindsay moving to Canada fearing for the welfare of their children was also a plausible resolution, even though slightly farfetched. The character of Emmet, I think, however, was simply dropped unattended and it is a shame, but I suppose your producers had totally blown their budget by then and there were no more resources left to fix Emmet's fate in a more respectful manner. But I would like to know your opinion about the ending your writers-producers came up with for the characters of Brian and Justin. I found it rather unconvincing, implausible, and inconsistent with everything these characters had been shown to assert about themselves during the previous eighty-something episodes. For five years we watch Justin go out of his way desperately trying to persuade Brian to settle down and become monogamous. Finally, at the end of the show, he does exactly what Justin wanted him to all along, and the minute he does Justin goes berserk and no longer wants to live with the man Brian has become mostly in response to Justin's multiyear supplications. Sure, we want to see the characters grow and mature, sure if the character does not evolve the story is not told. But a change as radical and inconsistent as that? Although, I must admit that if Justin and Brian were shown to us at the end as a happily married couple blissfully shagging away for the rest of their lives it would be excessively sentimental. But what do you think? Would not you agree that the writers-producers were in some sort of a hurry by the end of the fifth season? That their choices were not as carefully thought-through as before? That it felt like they wanted to wrap it up as soon as possible and move on? Because it sure felt like that when I watched the final season. I have a suspicion that by the end of the fifth season something was definitely not as it was five years prior; something just did not feel right about most of the characters.”
Well you seem to have a pretty good grasp on things, Yuri and when it comes to QAF I am loathe to give my opinion on what worked and what didn’t with the show. I think that it’s wonderful that the characters affected people in such a way that these arguments still resound. I will say that the final season was not rushed, the writers knew it was the final season before we entered into it and had an end-game in mind all the time. As far as the Justin/Brian story-line you raise the very problem with any resolution to it in your question. There was no way to bring the story to a conclusion that would satisfy everyone, so they made a choice that they felt was true to the characters and the journey they had been on together since that first rim-job in episode 1.
On the occasions when I just can't take my pets with me I've been very fortunate that timing has worked out for a friend to be needing housing right at the time I need to be out of town. Fortunately, as well, I have a house friends really like staying in and pets friends like spending time with. So, to date I haven't had to board a pet. Phew.
Hi Scott, Big fan of yours since QAF days, just wanted to ask if you are gay in real life? Thats all, thanks. Jack ps I am
Thanks, Jack. Although I am not gay in real life I have been given the secret handshake because of all my years of “man-on-man” loving on QAF.
Just saw QAF 114 again on Logo and remembered how much I love your "exactly what he intends you to be" speech; I think it's the best in the whole series, and you really hit it out of the park! What can you tell us about preparing/doing the scene? I'd guess it'd be very demanding emotionally.
Ah, Colleen you have hit upon one of my absolute favorite scenes and moments in all the five seasons of QAF. If the show is remembered for ONE thing I hope it is for that beautiful speech that Ron and Dan wrote. It was a difficult scene yet in the end very simple. Difficult because, given the nature of the story-line it was a part of I was forced, literally not to see or work with Peter Paige for a few weeks. We had become best of friends on the show and it really created a void not having him “in my life” for that long. So that added a bit of pain to the scene. The easy part was that I believe in those words as much as “Ted” did so all I had to do was speak them. Those are the rare and wonderful moments as an actor where you just let the language take you where you need to go. It is one of the moments that I would be proud to be a legacy of mine.
Elizabeth Day writes:
Boxers, briefs, or commando?
Ps. When your head turns completely grey swear to me that you will not dye it! Nothing is more sexy than a natural silver fox!
Believe it or not, Commando brand Boxer-briefs! As far as the hair thing, I love the Salt ‘n Peppa too ... but you’ll have to talk to my future employers about any dye jobs.
I don't really have a question per say, just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy your work. In QAF all of you guys did such a great job of really extending yourselves to the limit. I find the range each character required over the five year period very interesting. I am very glad that not one but all were shown in a way that "agrees" with real life situations.
In your video clips you spotlight three of my all-time favorite "Ted" moments. However a couple you do not show are, 201 ( I think) when Ted and Emmett are Mel and Linds beards for the wedding. When you"Ted" are ooggled by all the straight women. LOL I would have been oogglling as well. I also like when Mike, Emmett and Brian bring you home from the hospital after the coma, with the chicken and flowers etc. The way that you really didn't know what to do or say....you played that so well. You seemed to feel like a stranger in your own home and didn't quite know what to do with yourself.
I guess my one and only question will be this: I read that you have a blog and would like to read it if it is public. Where may I find it?
Thank you Scott Lowell for sharing your gift and talent with the world.
Well, thanks for all those highlights, Rebecca. I like all those scenes as well and it is always hard to pick out a select few for my reels. There’s actually a funny behind-the-scenes story behind that 201 scene you mentioned that maybe I’ll share one day. Speaking of sharing (nice segue, Scott) I did indeed used to have a blog on the web site back when we first started. But to be honest as time went on and the fan base for the show grew, I just wasn’t comfortable posting my private thoughts and aspects of my private life for all the world to read. While I’m grateful for all the fans of QAF you are, for the most part, strangers to me and I found it odd to have people I didn’t know stop me on the street and know so much about my life ... so I stopped. The old blogs I think eventually got deleted I’m afraid, so you’ll have to ask some old time ScoLo’s about what was in them.
Kewl Aunt writes:
Would you ever consider doing a reunion of QAF?
I would be more than happy to work with my old QAF family again in any capacity.
I'm job hunting for when I finally graduate. There's a job that I really want and I saw on the webpage that the chairman of their board is named Ted Schmidt. That would make me chuckle in general but now that I'm just about to wrap up yet another QAF marathon, it's even funnier. You think it's a good omen??
Also, did you hate Ted as much as I did during his drug funk? I wanted him to drop dead and stop making Em cry, but I love him again. It's easier when you know he'll get better...
A great admirer, Kathay
I’m not sure if working for Ted Schmidt is a good omen ... especially at “Jerk @ Work”. As far as hating “Ted” when he was addicted to crystal: absolutely not. Quite the opposite, I loved and hurt for him more than ever in the series. It’s still very hard for me to watch him go through all that.
Finally, Marre writes:
I just wanted to say thank you.
For the way you touch us in the queer as folk.
It was a beautiful series and I loved Ted
It’s the best series in world, and the first to really open up the gay world in reality.
And let it be a proof to all of those how didn’t already know
And for us who did know, a reminder
And what a reminder.. ;)
We opened our hearts to you , and we shall not be disappointed..
You touch us in a way that I thought only was possible in my own dreams and fantasies.
Therefore I must thank the ones that made you, and all off you,
for the inspiration you gave me and for making my heart feel alive again.
I’m in love.
I wish you a good life.
And peace of mind and of heart.
On behalf of all the QAF family let me say thank you to you, Marre for that lovely tribute.