Out actor Matthew Aaron wrote, directed, and starred in the new indie film Landline. It stars Tom Arnold, Betsy Brandt, and Jim O'Heir. This the first sports related film that features LGBT leads working with Major League Baseball. Cubs player Ryne Sandberg plays himself in Landline.
Aaron has hosted The Matthew Aaron Show, an internet radio gig in which he has interviewed many celebrities. His films The Way We Talk, Bromance and, now, Landline will all be available to stream and on VOD.
Windy City Times: Hi, Matthew. So Landline is about disconnecting from technology?
Matthew Aaron: Yes. I felt a little lost in America. I felt there was a story to be told here. My character gives up something so major in society.
WCT: Why the Cubs angle?
MA: I am just a huge Cubs fan. I knew it would be a cute film not a Sundance edgy film. I needed something that would really speak to Chicago. We even predicted in the film that they would win the World Series.
WCT: What was the most personal element of yourself in the movie?
MA: The personal thing for me as both an actor and an artist is with the LGBTQ aspect of it and this being a family film in that genre. It is not G-rated, but there is no cussing. There is no sex in the film. It is something for everybody.
On top of that I don't think there has ever been a production with LGBTQ themes combined with a major sports corporation before. Major League baseball really stepped it up. They have made a film starring gay men, and a trans actor. I look at that as such an achievement. That is what matters most to me personally.
WCT: Is there a lesbian in the movie to represent every letter of the LGBT?
MA: No, unfortunately. Many of my friends have told me I need to have one in my films.
WCT: Maybe your boss in the film is a lesbian.
MA: That could be true. We don't know much about her personal life. Betsy does have that hot lipstick lesbian vibe going on!
WCT: Maybe she's the B. Talk about the trans character in Landline.
MA: Avi Roque plays George. They just blew me away. They are someone I definitely want to continue working with.
I was really nervous about writing for a trans person. I can't speak from those experiences so I was intimidated about writing the character. I made sure with Avi everything was kosher. I am respectful about speaking from the experience. They gave me notes and we made sure it was up to par.
Almost none of this happened. Two weeks before I was going to stretch my acting chops and play straight with a wife. There was a scheduling conflict with our actors. I had already made two films with LGBT themes. I told the baseball people to trust me. I changed a male role to a trans role. I just decided to go for it. Since we got permission to make a LGBTQ film with the sport team we did not know if that would happen again so we used every opportunity that we could. We wanted to represent as many people as we could.
WCT: How was working with Tom Arnold?
MA: Tom was great. I had heard mixed things about Tom. I think Tom will say that is accurate. He is a family man and a great guy. His brain just works differently than others. You really have to be patient with him in the creative process to allow him to express himself.
I think Tom and Jim are fantastic in this film. I wanted Jim to be a little more over the top. I wanted him to be the top!
I think because Tom just had his first kid at age 55. He's the father of this movie. You see it. It is great to see a more weathered, more serious Tom Arnold.
WCT: What other films do you have?
MA: Bromance is a film about my dislike for labels, although I do feel they are needed. All of my films have pros and cons to them. I don't give answers to my films. I try not to. I like to say there is a happy compromise to everything.
It is about a guy questioning himself. He is surrounded by straight friends. It is very personal.
It is like Landline. It is not a film about being gay, but it stars LGBTQ actors. What I am trying to do is make films where you don't even think about it really. I want people to think it is just like their life. I believe my partner in Landline and I were talking like any husband and wife you will meet. I want people to see that. I think the only real differences people will see is what goes on in our bedroom, and I don't think that is anyone's business.
WCT: Have you thought about moving away to do more films?
MA: I lived in LA for four years. I sold a few pilots. I had one with Dermot Mulroney and Common called Dine and Dash. It was a great experience, but I decided after this one experience that I would pay for it myself. My friends are blue collar dudes, so we all pooled our money and started making movies. That is how they got made.
I am from Chicago. I love it here. I wanted to show aspects of the city that you don't see in those big studio movies. They don't care about Chicago much. It is just a landscape to film and it looks good.
I respect Michael Bay, but he doesn't care how Wicker Park is represented.
WCT: He's not personally invested.
MA: No, he's not. I am really invested in this city. I want to keep making movies that show that.
WCT: Do you pay for films through crowdfunding?
MA: I don't know how we are going to pay for our next film. I just signed with new managers. We are trying to figure it out.
I have three scripts that are ready to go. One is a multi-million dollar picture, one is an almost million dollar picture, and one is a half million dollar picture. What it is going to come down to is which one will be made first.
We have made our choice. It is very timely, local and political. I am hoping it comes together. I have my fingers crossed!
Landline is available on CableVision, iTunes, Vudu and Google Play, among other platforms.