Catching Up with Big Boys Filmmaker Corey Sherman

When Big Boys first landed in my inbox, I was thrilled. As a big boy myself, it is so rare that I get to see myself, a fat, queer man reflected in any sort of media or art that is joyful and celebratory. I’m much more accustomed to seeing fat characters maligned, vilified or sidelined in favor of their more slender and straight counterparts. It’s the reason so many of us struggle with body issues well into our adulthood and it’s the primary reason Bear World exists in the first place, but I digress.

Upon first watching the film I fell in love with it, relating instantly to Jamie (Isaac Krasner) and his boyhood crush/ sexual awakening when meeting the beefy and beautiful Dan (David Johnson III). You can read my full review HERE. When we published that initial article, I also had the chance to interview Corey Sherman, the writer and director of Big Boys for the first time.

Since then, I have proudly watched as Big Boys conquered the film festival circuit, garnering a wonderful amount of praise and picking up several awards along the way. I silently cheered from my writing desk when I heard it was picked up for distribution and had a theatrical run in Los Angeles and New York City. And I am gleefully celebrating again now that it has been released to on demand streaming for everyone in North America to see.

And now that the movie is widely released, I thought it the perfect time to catch up with Corey Sherman, a year and a half after our first conversation to see how the self-identified big boy himself has coped with the overwhelming response to his artistic brainchild. Check out our conversation below.

Corey Sherman

John Hernandez (JH): How has the last year and a half been promoting the film Big Boys and seeing audiences’ reactions to it?

Corey Sherman (CS): It’s been great!  I’ve been to 15 or 20 film festivals at this point with it and I’ve gotten to see it with a ton of different audiences. It’s been so cool to hear different people’s reactions to it and to see how people have responded to it in different parts of the world. The different little things that people pick up on and relate to is so satisfying. To hear that people connected to it and that it feels like they’re seeing themselves on screen in some way, never gets old because that was the ultimate goal.

JH: Were there any memorable interactions between you and any specific viewers?

CS: I talked to a 95-year-old gay man about how he related to the movie, and it was mind blowing to me. Big Boys touched on something that was universal and timeless enough for him to be able to see himself in it and to relate to it but also to feel that it was fresh in some way. Considering the amount of life he’s lived, the number of gay movies he’s seen, to hear that this felt like it had something new to say was, really, really gratifying.

JH: What about bears specifically. What has their reaction been?

CS: It’s been very positive; bears were always our core demographic. Film festivals all around the world have been seeing bears show up for the movie (laughs). I’ve been talking to the audiences about seeing a chubby character treated with respect on the screen and being the center of the movie instead of a sidekick. The object of Jamie’s affection being another big guy, that the main character doesn’t want the opposite of him, but instead wants a role model of what he could be one day has really struck a nerve with bears.

Seeing Dan portrayed as a sexy, confident big guy that Jaime looks up to and wants to emulate is new for many of the viewers. Dan allows Jaime to feel better about his own body. All of that seems to be really resonating. Some of the bears I talked to were speaking about how the movie tapped into a very private, internal relationship they had with their own bodies. They felt they hadn’t seen themselves treated in that sensitive way on screen before. It was incredibly moving to me. It still is.

JH: Why do you think Jamie’s story has resonated so fiercely with other queer people and not just bears or chubby gay men?

CS: Having not just big gay men being drawn to this movie has been in a wild thing to me. I’ve talked to straight people, women, non-binary people, trans people, and they all have seen some of themselves in the movie. I think it’s a pretty universally relatable thing, of having this first seismic crush that just rocks your world and opens up your eyes to the power of desire. And when you get those first tastes of intimacy with somebody who you really are drawn to, how powerful that can be and how much hope that that can instill in you. I think queer people in particular can relate to that older person who is a combination of both a crush and a mentor, someone you both want to be and be with. It’s the classic camp counselor thing, it’s that person who moves through the world with the type of confidence and power that you wish you had.

I also think it resonates beyond the bear world because the actors brought such a sense of humanity and reality and humor to the movie which makes it fun to watch. It’s like you are really hanging out with these characters at a campsite and there’s a watchability to the movie that I think comes from the ease and comfort that the actors have in their characters and how rich and well defined they are. It just has that feeling of watching real people. That to me is the most magnetic thing a movie can have. No matter who you are, you can recognize yourself or recognize somebody you know in one of the characters.

Isaac Krasner as Jamie and David Johnson III as Dan (Photo Credit: Dark Star Pictures)

JH: How did Dark Star Pictures get into the mix, how did they come to distribute?

CS: We were working with The Film Collaborative who were very helpful to us throughout the entire process. We partnered with them for the whole festival run of the movie and then we partnered with them for selling the movie to a distributor and they sent it to Dark Star and Dark Star really took to it. We had a great conversation with them, they seemed to understand it and recognized the broader appeal, that it was a classic coming of age tale. It had that accessibility and relatability factor. It’s just been great working with them. They’ve really championed the movie, putting it out there.

We weren’t sure if we were ever going to get into theatres. I’m so happy we did because I think the movie plays really wonderfully in a theatre environment. I just loved hearing people laugh and relate to the characters. It was so gratifying. And now to have it online for people to see anywhere in North America feels great. It’s so nice to have that kind of support behind this.

JH: That’s awesome. Are there any plans for a physical release?

CS: Yes, it’s coming out on DVD in early July with a full commentary from me and Allison Tate, our producer, and our cinematographer, our composer, and editor. There’s bloopers and behind the scenes features as well.

**Editor’s Note – The DVD was released last week and promptly sold out on Amazon who is working to restock as of this writing. Keep checking back! In the meantime you can rent or buy HERE.

JH: Do you think there is anything more to tell of Jamie’s story, is there a potential for a sequel? Or perhaps other films with other bigger bodied queer protagonists?

CS:  It’s tempting to daydream about what happens next in Jaime’s life. But I feel really good about where we left him off. If in the future for some reason it feels right, I wouldn’t be completely opposed to it, but it would have to feel like it’s really a definitive new chapter in his life. I can definitely say that making movies about bigger queer people is a top priority to me, both to show their everyday emotional experiences and their defeats and triumphs. I’d like to show the humor they have that doesn’t come at the expense of their bodies but just because of who they are as people. All that stuff is really exciting to me.

Also, making movies that make big people look sexy is something that I’m shocked to see so little of. To the day I die I will be making movies where big people are the objects of desire and affection. I think that there’s just so much more to explore there. That’s something I look forward to doing more.

JH: Well I, for one, can’t wait to see what you come out with next Corey. Thank you for talking with me and thank you for this beautiful film.

CS: Thank you so much!

Big Boys is available to rent or stream from YouTube, Apple, Amazon, Google Play and Fandango in North America.

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John Hernandez

John Hernandez is the Editor in Chief of Bear World Magazine. In addition to bear culture, he specializes in entertainment writing with a special focus on horror and genre films. He resides in New York City with his husband.

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