Still enjoying the success from his most recent feature film, The Last Straight Man, director Mark Bessenger is already looking beyond his Rhode Island Independent Film Festival Alternate Spirit Award to focus on his next project. Confessions is the writer/director’s latest work, a collection of 16 vignettes, each with its own tone and story.
“The idea sprung from the fact that I have a lot of friends who are actors, and I wanted to work with them all,” recalls Bessenger. “I tried to think of a project where I could use a considerable amount of actors. I came up with 16 men, each telling us a secret. All men, all gay characters.”
The purest definition of independent filmmaking, each of the vignettes in Confessions is shot in only one day, and many only feature one actor. With themes that run the gamut from dark and depraved to downright hilarious, Bessenger crafts an innovative mosaic of gay lifestyle through this collection of voyeuristic monologues. The project is a creative and enticing departure from the director’s famous work in the horror and thriller genre. Beyond the writing, the director further uses his film as an opportunity to embrace each actor’s strengths.
“I was going through my friends and thought, ‘How do I go about getting them to do something different?’ Take Peter Stickles, for example. Very, very funny guy, but he rarely gets roles that let him play himself, so we use this an opportunity to break cast and let (the actors) play someone they never played before,” Bessenger explains.
Each of the 16 monologues reveals a carefully crafted secret through creative storytelling. Among Bessenger’s vignettes is “The Beard,” a story about a closeted young man who gets advice from his mirror image as he’s shaving off his beard, starring actor Vincent Cusimano. “The Actor” tells the story of a theatre student who moves to LA to become a star, only to come crashing down to reality. And one of the more absurd vignettes, “The Puppet” is a short about a puppet who comes out to his human parents over dinner. Surprisingly, “The Puppet” is one of the most personal pieces for Bessenger, humor aside.
“When I came out to my family I heard every cliché – ‘you’re trying to be special, trying to be different, trying to change your life’” recalls Bessenger. “In this story the puppet is obviously different from humans to begin with, but the parents refuse to recognize it. When he comes out as gay, being a puppet just elevates it all to absurdity.”
With a talented cast and a very unique collection of stories, Confessions is poised to garner attention and make a splash on the film festival circuit. This is an undeniably fun concept presented by a talented acting troupe who clearly enjoy what they’re doing.
“It’s been a blast,” says Bessenger. “These actors just go all out. Everybody has a good time.”