Casper Andreas knew making the transition from acting to filmmaking wasn't going to be easy. But he knew the power of film as a positive medium was far greater than any hardship he might encounter.
"The thought that my work could have an impact on others is, of course, the most rewarding thing about being a filmmaker," Andreas, 43, says. "It's amazing to be able to make audiences laugh and cry and to hear stories from people about how a particular film of mine helped them accept their sexuality, reminded them of their own relationships or of a lover gone, gave them the courage to live life fuller, and even helped someone decide against suicide. Sometimes when I stress out about the difficulties of pursuing this as a career and start considering getting a 'real' job, hearing things like that helps me to keep going."
Two of Andreas' films will be a part of the 18th annual San Diego LGBT Film Festival when it kicks off Friday. 2015's "Kiss Me, Kill Me" - starring "Queer as Folk" actor Gale Harold and "As the World Turns" actor Van Hansis - opens the festival, making its California premiere. His new film "Flatbush Luck" makes its West Coast premiere and closes the festival.
This year, 22 films will make their premiere at the festival, which will feature Q&As with directors and actors for several of the screenings. At 1 p.m. Sunday, a film by San Diego State University's Simha Pradeep Katasani - called "Escape" - makes its premiere.
Andreas says he's excited about the prospect of opening and closing the festival - his exact words were "I'm thrilled!" - and he doesn't take the honor lightly.
"Most films these days never have a theatrical release and, in a way, the film festival run becomes the theatrical release of the film," says Andreas, who lives in Los Angeles and New York City. "As a filmmaker, there is nothing more rewarding than to have an audience enjoying your work on the big screen in a dark theater giving it their full attention. So, as a filmmaker, I love the opportunity to show my films at festivals, to meet the audiences, and to be able to speak about the films with them after the screenings."
18th Annual San Diego LGBT Film Festival
When: Friday-Sunday, with the festival starting at 7 p.m. Friday
Where: The Observatory- North Park , 2891 University Ave., North Park
Andreas made his first film in 2003, moving from the front of the camera to behind it.
"I had pursued acting for about 10 years before I made my first film," says Andreas, who also acts in both "Kiss Me, Kill Me" and "Flatbush Luck." "I still pursue and love acting, but I got tired of sitting around waiting for someone to like me. So I started writing screenplays - initially with the idea that I would act in them - and as I saw the scenes I wrote play out in my head I soon realized that what I really wanted to to was direct."
It wasn't an easy switch, even though he innocently thought it would be.
"Before making my first feature film I very naively thought it would be kind of easy to do," he says. "If I had known just how hard it was getting it all to come together I might never have gotten started on that first film. Once I completed one film though, I felt that I learned so much from doing it that I needed to apply that knowledge and make at least one more. To me the most challenging and least interesting part of filmmaking was, and still is, all the technical stuff to consider."
But there are rewards: "I love the creative aspects of filmmaking. I think being a film director is the most creative job imaginable. I get to make decisions not just about how the film should be acted, and shot, and cut together, but also get to make decisions about clothing, hair, makeup, set dressing, color schemes, the music, etc. It's so a lot of fun!"