By Peter Knegt | Indiewire July 2, 2013 at 12:51PM
Clearly the biggest LGBT news in America last week -- which just so happened to also mark pride celebrations in gay meccas like New York and San Francisco -- was the Supreme Court's historical rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8. But in the midst of that came a notable success story in the indie film world: Jonathan Lisecki's "Gayby" was picked as the film of the week on iTunes and subsequently soared to the top of their charts, beating out films with budgets and theatrical grosses literally 100 times greater (if not 1,000).
Perhaps all the big news put at-home audiences in a particularly gay
content friendly mood, or maybe Lisecki's hilarious and charming rom com simply won them over (like it did Kerry Washington and Paul Feig, whose vocal support for the film surely aided it as well). The answer is probably somewhere in the middle, along with the fact that the film was on sale -- $0.99 to rent and $5.99 to buy (studio titles are often $4.99/$19.99). But either way it's great news for "Gayby," and low budget indies in general.
The film -- which premiered back at SXSW last year -- follows two BFFs (a gay man and a straight woman) who met in college and are now in their thirties. Both single, they decide to actually go through with their youthful promise to have a child together. Their story won very warm reviews on the festival circuit, and an Indie Spirit award nomination for Lisecki. But theatrically the buzz didn't quite translate: It only grossed $14,062 from a small run last October. However, it seems like the film will have financial happy ending after all. FilmBuff, who handles digital for "Gayby" distributor Wolfe, arranged with iTunes for the film to be included in their Pride sale. Then iTunes ended up picking it as the overall film of the week.
"We've had a ‘little indie that could’ vibe going for a while now," Lisecki said. "Not many indie gay films per year receive that kind of attention, and the same can be said of indie comedies, so for a gay indie comedy to get noticed is unexpected in a wonderful way. We premiered at SXSW, played tons of great festivals, had a small theatrical run, got lots of great critical notices, and I was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. But when a huge platform like iTunes give us this kind of spotlight, it takes things to new level."
That new level saw "Gayby" hit #1 on iTunes' indie charts, #3 on their comedy charts and #5 overall. The latter saw it top the likes of "Spring Breakers," "Silver Linings Playbook," "Jack The Giant Slayer" and "Django Unchained." For a film with a $100,000 budget to top films that likely spent at least that on catering alone.
"I have received amazing feedback from friends, family, people in the business, people on Facebook and Twitter. It’s been entirely positive and great," Lisecki said. "All week long my friends have been cheering us on. We went from 10 to 9 to 7 to 5..."
"Que(e)ries" is a column by Indiewire Senior Writer Peter Knegt. Follow him on Twitter.