Filmmaker Davien Harlis Amplifies Black Gay Representation In Holiday Film “Some Kind of Christmas”
Winter is always a unique season for gay independent filmmaker Davien Harlis, who is currently basking in the success of his second feature film, “Some Kind Of Christmas,” which is considered by many to be the first-ever holiday-themed film centering Black gay characters. Harlis debuted the film to Atlanta audiences over a three-day period in November at Cinevision to enthusiastic and sold-out audiences, and is gearing up to share the film during the increasingly popular online “Black, Gay, stuck at home” (BGSAH) series on December 18.
“Some Kind of Christmas” revolves around lead character Gary, who for the first time in 5 years decides to break his tradition and go home to Atlanta to spend Christmas with his family. After confirming his presence with his mother who constantly speaks about the importance of family, Gary hints that he won’t be coming home alone. After an unexpected breakup, he takes the advice of a friend and creates the perfect “Ken” (played by Harlis) via a dating app to take home for Christmas. What happens next is a series of unexpected moments and unresolved issues that the entire family must confront.
Harlis, a Ft. Lauderdale, FL native who has called Atlanta home since 2003, wrote, directed, and shot the film over six days with an $18,000 budget taken from his personal bank account. It was his second time betting on himself after leaving a successful career in corporate America to pursue his dream as an actor and filmmaker full-time.
“I locked myself in my office for 2 1/2 weeks and came up with that story,” said Harlis. “I called some people that normally help me out with production, and I said, I’ve got this idea to shoot a Christmas movie, and they said, ‘but it’s September, how are we gonna do a Christmas movie?.’ I was like, we’re gonna do it. I wrote it in September, did casting in September, at the beginning of October we shot it in 6 days and were able to edit and show it in November. I’ll never do that again [laughter].”
For Harlis, being able to provide Black gay men with representation onscreen is a responsibility that is always at the forefront of his mind as a filmmaker.
“I appreciate being able to display a gay male that looks and acts like me because I didn’t always see that,” said Harlis. “One of my goals is to show the everyday gay male. But people always say that telling gay stories isn’t gonna make you money. I feel like this is my assignment to tell the everyday gay male story.”
It’s an assignment that has come with its fair share of setbacks and hurdles that Harlis has had to overcome without major donors or studio executives funding and distributing his films.
“I did a fundraiser [for his debut film “Red Carpet Hashtags & Heartbreak”]. I went outside on the corner with a sign that said help me make a film. People donated and we were able to get the film done,” he said.
For a period of time, Harlis’s decision to leave his high-powered corporate job landed him on the outside looking in—literally.
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