Doug Spearman will always be remember for his portrayal of Professor Chance Counter from the groundbreaking series Noah’s Arc, about of group of four black gay men. Upon further investigation into his career one finds that he has worked for several shows including Star Trek Voyager, The Hughleys, Girlfriends and Mad TV. He’s also an accomplished director of television commercials and he’s a producer and creator of content. In 2006 he founded The Ogden Group Entertainment.
Spearman’s latest venture is “Hot Guy’s With Guns” a gay action/comedy/thriller that harks back to the great film noirs like “This Gun For Hire,” “LA Confidential,” crossed with “Lethal Weapon.” The film has raised a good portion of its funding primarily through contributors made on the crowd sourcing website Indiegogo. Spearman talked with PrideIndex about his filmmaking experiencing, why he prefers to be behind the camera instead of in front, and what’s next.
PRIDEINDEX (PI): Where are you from? Why did you become an actor?
DOUG SPEARMAN (DS): I was born in Washington, DC and raised in Maryland. When I was seven years old I saw “The Wizard of Oz” on television and I thought there was something pretty magical about being a flying monkey; I looked at them as if they were real. I did a Christmas play in the second grade and I wanted to be a toy soldier but someone else got that part. However I did get get to be on stage under the lights and the colors. Being in costume was amazing. At that point, I knew what I wanted to be for the rest of my life so I pursued it. Anytime I could get on stage in front of people and pretend to be someone else I did it. I learned not only the craft of acting, but directing and writing as well. I learned to create the whole thing, how to put the show together.
PI: Are you only an actor or do you sing and dance as well?
DS: Yes, I can dance but I do not sing. I’ve always wanted to be an entertainer and do musicals. I am a writer, and a director. I am directing a feature film right now that I wrote called “Hot Guys with Guns.” I can pretty much do it all.
PI: Which do you enjoy more, being in front of the camera or behind it?
DS: Behind it, definitely.
PI: And why is that?
DS: One of my acting teachers once told me, “They teach you how to act, but they do not teach you how to be famous.” Once you get a certain amount of notoriety, your life is no longer your own. You don’t get to watch and interact with the world in the same way you can behind the camera, you‘re pretty anonymous. I like the position you’re in when you put the whole thing together and it comes from your own head. You’re not just a cog in the wheel, but you’ve created the wheel. I like being in the position of being able to watch the world and just tell a story. Observing things and turning them around and into something else without the interference of being famous.
PI: Name three people who have had the most influence on your artistic style.
DS: (Hesitates)…Anthony Hopkins, I think is one of the world’s most amazing actors. And nobody can tell a story with a song the way that k.d Lang can. And I think…Edgar Degas, the nineteenth century French impressionist; he could hold your eye and tell a story with paints on canvas. So I look at several different sources to find ways to help me tell a story. Whether its music, dance, painting, a sculpture, landscape, clouds, a dress or even furniture; I look for inspiration in everything.
PI: That is so amazing, does this mean that you also have a spoken word back ground…or have you ever considered doing so?
DS: I’ve written a lot of poetry. It’s usually when something has picked up in my life that I have written a poem about it. I have done certain readings where I have done other people’s poetry, but no I am not really interested in spoken word. (Laughs)
PI: Let’s talk about your current project that you are working on and fundraising for. Where did the idea come from?
DS: “Hot Guys with Guns” came from a poster for a television show that used to be on UPN. I have no idea what the name of the show was, but it was literally two guys; a white guy and a black guy standing in front of a vintage convertible. They were both wearing leather jackets it was very 1970’s looking like a 1970’s movie poster. And I said to myself, “Oh that’s hot…guys with guns.” I thought to myself, that’s a great title and over the years I kept it filed away in my head. The idea for the story was to explain who those two guys were. I came up with the idea that they were ex-boyfriends who still had a thing for each other. At the time, because I liked television shows about detectives; I decided they were an actor and a hairstylist whose careers were not going anywhere and they had decided to quit and become private detectives. It started really light and fluffy, but over the years the story became darker and darker and darker. Then the relationship between the two characters changed and I added two other characters into the story. It became a much darker, grittier movie about what it means to be black, gay and an actor in L.A. and Hollywood. All of that stuff that comes filtered through the lens of my own experiences being in Los Angeles for twenty-one years. And it’s funny as well, because you know everything is funny; everything has a little humor in it. To me even the darkest situation has a little joke in it.
PI: What is your role going to be in this film in front of the camera or all behind the camera?
DS: I did a little cameo in it. We are shooting the movie right now?
PI: Wow! Right now, as we speak? Am I taking you away from the film?
DS: Well no. Production has wrapped for the day. This is after production. Last night and the night before, we shot until 10:00 p.m. Tonight was an early night for me. I am the director and writer of this movie. Darryl Stephens stars in it with Brian McArdle and Marc Anthony Samuel, who is currently on General Hospital. It’s a dark thriller, action movie and it’s sexy. It begins with five guys on a bed at the end of an orgy. That’s the first thing in the movie.
PI: Gimme a fan.
PI: When do you expect to have it completed and will it play on the film festival circuit? Or maybe in limited release or maybe on a television network such as LOGO TV?
DS: If this movie ends up on television it would have to be on Pay TV cable. (Laughs) There is too much ass in this movie! The point is to finish filming by early January, score it, add the sound and hopefully the movie will be ready to be viewed by an audience by the beginning of March. It could go to the film festival circuit, but we will just wait and see. We do have some plans and we have a lot more opportunities with distribution than we did two or so years ago. Because the internet makes everything more accessible and you don’t need a movie studio to release a movie anymore. Do you have a smart phone or a tablet?
DS: Then you have a movie studio right there in your hands. And the great thing about making a gay movie is that not every theater is going to release or carry a movie like this.
The interview takes a new course as we suddenly reverse roles:
DS: Where do you live?
PI: In Chicago.
DS: How many movie theaters will carry a gay movie?
PI: Outside of the film festivals circuit, probably not many.
DS: No I mean really, even in Multiplexes, did you see Broke Back Mountain?
DS: Did you see it in the movie theater?
PI: Initially I did not. It was not in wide release at first.
DS: Right. Exactly. But when Broke Mountain came out six or seven years ago people were still in the model of you had to go to a movie theater if you wanted to go and see a movie. But you had to go and find it (Broke Back Mountain) and hunt for it. Right?
DS: And you’re on the web as an entertainment reporter. Five or ten years ago you really had to be on television if you wanted to be an entertainment reporter. But now you can do it sitting on the floor in your bedroom.
PI: I am actually standing in the middle of the floor in my pajamas. (Laughs)
DS: I am sitting in mine so, you can watch a movie on the web on YouTube. There are all kinds of places where you can put films. And gay films you can make it so that people can walk around with it in their pocket or their laptops. The y can find it in places where they would not have found themselves before.
PI: Why did you choose IndieGoGo to raise some of the money?
DS: I saw a friend of mine go through the same process with his movie. And I thought that if one guy could do it, then so could I. IndieGoGo and Kickstarter are amazing tools that help people grow their small businesses. Kickstarter is great if you are looking to raise a small amount of money. IndieGoGo worked better for me because you can raise a lot of money in a short period of time and even if you don’t reach your goal, you will still get most the money you’ve raised. But with Kickstarter, if you don’t reach your goal, then you don’t get any of the money you’ve raised. It went out to over 5000 emails to people, that’s 5000 people. I have permanent carpel tunnel damage in my thumbs, (Laughs) from tweeting and texting. You can go to my webpage dougspearmen.com and donate to my film.
PI: What are your next steps after completing the film?
DS: Again, once the film is scored and sound effects have been laid to it, it has to be color corrected, finished and polished and then it will be screened to an audience. Then we’ll see if we can get a studio to buy it and if not we could release it ourselves and play it in film festivals. Don’t worry the world will get to see this movie!
PI: I have to ask about Noah’s Arc because people will kill me if I do not?
DS: What would you like to know?
PI: How was that experience for you? Was it a good experience? How did you feel when it ended?
PI: Will there be another movie?
DS: Not that I know of.
PI: If there were to be another movie and you were approached to be part of it would you accept? If Patrick-Ian were to call you up tomorrow would you reprise the role of Chance?
PI: Why not?
DS: Personally I think that I have gone as a far with the role as I could. Chance was a particular moment in time. And I am not interested in playing him again. And that time in my life was hard and very dark. So it is kind of funny the thing that made me famous came in my life at a time when I experienced a lot of pain and sorrow. My mom died right before we started shooting the first season, and then another one of my friends died. You know the scene in the series that took place where all hell broke loose during Chance’s wedding when a friend of mine committed suicide that day in a hotel room about a mile away from where we were shooting. And I found out while we were shooting that scene that day. Then one of my of my ex-boyfriends died while we shooting the second season of Noah’s Arc. We’d lived together in L.A., but I was in Canada and we had broken up. We had a very contentious ex-boyfriend relationship. I associate that time while shooting Noah’s Arc with a lot of death, a lot of loss because it was what was going on my life and a lot of loneliness and tragedy. That was not particularly a great time for me to think back on.
So you know how when you u think about your job you do not necessarily think about the work you are doing you think about what was going on in your life at the time and what you were going through. Because your job is just your job; acting in Noah’s Arc was just a job, it came in third in my life. And what was going on personally and those four years around Noah’s Arc were very dark. A lot of people want us to be those guys because they mean so much to so many people at that time you did not see a lot of gay black men in relationships and supporting one another in 3 dimensional relationships. It was important to a lot of people, but you have got to understand that we were not those people. We were not and are not those characters. And Darryl who played Noah is in my movie playing a very different person than he was as Noah.
PI: Have you ever been here in Chicago or ever plan to come here?
DS: My best friend lives there in Chicago. I go there all the time I went to Indiana University so I’ve been to Chicago tons of times.
PI: What are you working on next professionally beyond “Hot Guys with Guns?” What can we expect from you down the road professionally?
DS: I want to start shooting another movie right after this in the spring called “Welcome Sinners.” Something that I wrote set in Boston. It’s the story about the myth of two marriages, the happy American marriage. Two guys meet and one of them is married and one of them is not and they both are very attracted to each other and they start having an affair. It’s an old fashioned story; one guy looks likes he is happily married to a woman. He meets a guy who is openly gay and they have a relationship. The gay guy has a habit of only finding unavailable men and the two of them separate and try to live very traditional lives in their own worlds. One is a straight married man and the other is an alpha gay and their lives just sort of fall apart until they get back together.
PI: Do you have someone in mind to play the lead role?
DS: Yes, I actually wrote the role for myself. Pretty much everything I write I wrote for myself as an actor but then I just got too old. (Laughs)
PI: So then going forward, you prefer not to be in front of the camera at all?
DS: Right. I would probably do something on the stage, watching yourself act is just like finding a dead body in the woods, it’s horrifying and yet you just cannot look away, And speaking of doing Noah’s Arc I found a web episode and I have not seen it since 2007 and I watched with the sound off. Sometimes I will watch something with the sound off just to see if it’s communicating. We were so young.
PI: How do learn to hone in your skills if you don’t watch yourself on film?
DS: See that’s the problem. Stage acting and acting in front of the cameras are two different fields. You have to learn how to do them and hopefully you will find a good teacher. I know how to act on camera but I do not want to do it. I want to direct.
PI: In the story about your life, who would you like to see play the lead role? And what would you like audiences to take away from that film?
DS: I have not met the actor yet who could play me. I have no idea who that would be. I would want them to take away that he (I) was funny, smart and that he was a great a lay and that he tried really hard. (Laughs)
PI: Is that (you were a great lay) the message that you would want people to take away from the film? (Laughs)
DS: It would be an “R” rated movie!
PI: What about your kids going to see this movie? We cannot have all that stuff in it?
DS: My kids would already know all about their father, my life and some of it is “X” rated.
PI: What do you like to do outside of writing acting and directing?
DS: I like to travel; my partner and I are going to Ireland for the holidays to spend time with his family. I love to travel anywhere there is good food. I love being near the seashore, beaches and oceans.
Although I have not had time to read anything lately, I am an omnivore when it comes to reading. I’ve read it all but I love historical fiction.
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