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    Erotic, Mischievous Solo Is Wickedly Smart and Entertaining

    garysoloSolo, now available on DVD, is a naughty—as in erotic, as in mischievous—queer Argentine film. Manuel (Patrico Ramos) and Julio (Mario Verón) meet in a chat room and arrange to hook up at Manuel’s place. Their initial kissing is hot, and as they get naked, they also expose their anxieties about relationships. They swear not to lie to one another, but little things such as a 4:00 am phone call Julio receives, or Manuel’s insistence that his friend Vicky is coming over early the next morning, play on issues of truth and trust. Is their love connection a one-night stand, or will it be the start of a full-blown relationship?

    Solo builds, inexorably, to its stunning conclusion—be sure to watch past the credits—as it provides the answer and addresses issues of intimacy in gay relationships. The leads are incredibly sexy, and Solo is both wickedly smart and entertaining.

    For this 35th anniversary issue of the SF Bay Times, I met with writer/director Marco Briem Stamm, who also co-directed the anthology Sexual Tension: Volatile, (an outstanding collection of short films in which two men seduce each other) to discuss his fine films.

    GMK: Like your shorts in Sexual Tension, Solo revolves around two people in a room involved in games of seduction. Why does your work pivot on two characters in a single space, navigating intimacy?

    MBS: The way I create a story is from a very small moment. The Sexual Tension stories are built from small moments. A lot of people like them because they felt they have been in the same situations. If I decide to make an 80-minute film, like Solo, set in the same room with two characters, I need to be creative. I don’t like to waste time in any scene; it’s an insult to the audience. I’m very obsessed with the story. I want this to be a story in one room with two characters. I work on the dialogue and the situations. I choose good actors and try to build a team with them. We work on the chemistry.

    GMK: Can you talk about the casting? You feature very sexy actors who seem to be comfortable doing erotic things on
    camera.

    MBS: We worked very hard on the casting. We try to get attractive people who can act and have chemistry. Mario Verón was in Ari (a short in Sexual Tension) and I used him again in Solo. He had long hair when he showed up for Solo, so I had him cut his hair. He became a very different person. He looks good as Julio because he’s hot and dangerous. And Patrico, he has an angel face. So together, they were perfect. I thought: this is going to be good now!

    solo

    Marco Briem Stamm

    GMK: How do you work with your actors, especially on creating intimacy?

    MBS: I never studied cinema—for good or for bad. I have a career in advertising and making porn films, so I have a very different background from other directors. I don’t know the rules of filming. I can sit with an actor and say this is how we’ll do it. In my films, we show full frontal nudity. It’s important for me to approach it realistically, even though in cinema, we lie all the time; it’s fiction. I think the audience will have a connection with the story and the characters, and believe it. That is very important to me. And I want to please the people who are watching the film. Maybe have them explore their own fantasies.

    GMK: The characters in Solo are wary of relationships. Did Solo stem from a bad relationship you had?

    MBS: I thought: What if I made a movie where I tell a very common situation of two guys who meet in a chat room? You meet people you don’t know and, after an hour or two of conversation, you feel you know the person—you have chemistry. But you don’t know this person! I wanted to play on the psychology of that. It’s all about making first impressions. We are willing to show the best side of our self, tell our version of things. No one says, “I ended my last relationship
    because I was a bitch, and unfaithful to him!”

    GMK: So how do you construct your characters?

    MBS: For me, one of the rules when I write and try to create something is “leave away the morality.” I don’t judge the characters. They are what they are. I don’t want to give the audience a “life lesson.”

    GMK:  Given the sexual tension in your films, do you consider yourself a romantic?

    MBS: I am very romantic.

    © 2013 Gary M. Kramer

    Gary M. Kramer is the author of “Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews,” and the co-editor of “Directory of World Cinema: Argentina.” You can follow him on Twitter
    @garymkramer.