One of the highlights of Outfest — which wraps up in Los Angeles this weekend — was Andrew Nackman’s directorial debut “Fourth Man Out.” The film follows Adam (Evan Todd), a working-class guy living in small-town America with his tight-knit band of BFFs, Chris, Nick and Ortu. Except, at 24, his straight pals still don’t know that Adam is gay. A sweet. comic spin on both the rom com and the coming out story, “Fourth Man Out” is a breakout for both director Nackman and Evan Todd, who makes a winning onscreen debut in the film.
“The biggest challenge for me was just the process of making a film,” Todd said of his first time out. “The process of doing a film versus the process of doing a play is just so totally different. With a play you have five weeks to rehearse something and really craft something that you put in front of an audience. With film, you’re doing it out of order. You show up and you may have a little bit of rehearsal time but then you only have a couple takes to get it. I had never done a film before or seen myself on camera in a long time, so it was really just about figuring out what works and what doesn’t work on camera.”
Clearly Todd succeeded in that regard. His vulnerable, charming performance anchors a thoughtful direction and a script full of organic humor and dialogue.
“After I first read the script,” Nackman said, “one thing that I thought was really interesting was that I would mention the story and premise to various friends of mine and I was really surprised that almost everyone would jump right in with ‘that reminds me of my experience or my friend’s experience.’ It just seemed like everyone had some sort of coming out experience and it’s become this universal experience that everyone can identify with. That’s part of the reason I feel like this isn’t just Adam’s coming out story. It’s also about his friends. And we tried to have it be balanced. You’re getting Adam’s experience but you’re also getting the guys’ experience of how they handle it. I think showing both sides was one of the things that appealed to me about it.”
On his end, Todd admitted that he doesn’t tend to enjoy a lot of gay-themed films because he doesn’t often connect with them. But the script for “Fourth Man Out” offered a major exception.
“I loved that it was a coming out story, but that it didn’t feel like a typical coming out story. It wasn’t a story of somebody coming out and being rejected by their friends and family. It’s a story about someone coming out and then how his friends embrace that and how their relationships evolve. How do they find where their friendship is now? Which I think is more honest and a little bit more of the times. That I could connect with.”
Todd also said that he enjoyed the film’s sense of humor.
“It didn’t come from an overexaggerated place,” he said. “It came as a sort of rom com about a bunch of guys. I hadn’t seen a gay film that felt like that was where the comedy was coming from. I loved that.”
So what can the pair can offer folks about to take on their own first feature films now that theirs is out in the world?
“You have to be more truthful,” Todd said. “The camera can withstand a lot more than actors realize when they’re going into it for the first time. On stage, you can pretty much be as big as you want and it can read and you have to have honesty and truth behind it. But on camera you can be just as big but every moment needs to be just as full and just as truthful.”
As for those about to go behind the camera? Nackman suggests you tone down the control freak in you.
“I think a lot of directors when they are just starting out feel like this is like ‘their movie’ and they need to do everything,” he said. “Whereas I tried to collaborate with our team as much as possible because I knew especially on a tight budget we don’t have the time. We need everyone to be working together. And that took a lot of pressure off of me. It’s not like a short film where you are literally doing everything.”
“Fourth Man Out” is having a second Outfest screening by popular demand Sunday July 19th at 12:30pm at the DGA 1. And check out a clip from the below: