A new film focuses on the struggles of those left behind after a man kills his male lover.
By Blase DiStefano
Chasen Schneider (son of actor John Schneider) and Jordan Salloum star in Hate Crime, which is presently in post-production. Kevin (Schneider) is a young man attending college in Louisiana. He is Ray’s (Salloumn) lover, but Ray is forcing him to keep the relationship a secret. The end result is not pretty. In a rage, Ray kills Kevin, which puts him on death row. The two young actors answer a few email questions about their roles in the film.
Blase DiStefano: Did either of you have any qualms about playing gay characters?
Jordan Salloum: No. Absolutely not. That did not bother me for a second.
Chasen Schneider: No. It’s sad that that question still needs to be asked. I saw Kevin as a person, a person who wanted love and found it in another person. I’m hoping that this film will illustrate that underneath the labels we assign people, Kevin and Ray were people, people who want companionship.
Chasen, your dad [actor John Schneider] plays your father onscreen. Even though you didn’t have any scenes together, what was it like being on the set with him?
It was a pleasure. He helped choreograph a fight! He’s done so many fight scenes in films, and he tends to make friends with the stuntmen, so he knows most of the tricks of the trade. He’s supportive of what I do, and although he’s given me much advice over my life, he knows when I need to find things out on my own. He gave me the space that I needed to perform.
Jordan, you had some intense scenes with John. What was it like working with him?
It was a real honor to work with Mr. Schneider. I learned so much from him. He is a real professional and just an exceptional human being. Since Hate Crime he has put me in three of his films that he directed. It was a dream come true to be able to work with an actor of his caliber.
It was such a pleasure to work with everyone on this film. This was a special project. We had an extremely talented director [Steve Esteb] and an amazing producer [Alicia Allain]. They worked so hard on getting this film made and put together. We also had such a super cast and crew. It was just a great experience.
Have you guys gotten any feedback about your performances?
Salloum: I try not to snoop too much, but our director and producer have both told me they were very happy with my performance, which is always nice to hear.
Schneider: Well, the film is not out yet, so we’ll see how audiences respond. We did get good feedback from the cast and crew, as well as the director. Laura Cayouette, who plays my mother in the film, had good things to say about our scene. She’s had so much experience and worked with so many talented names that it meant a lot for her to say that.
Any feedback on the movie?
Salloum: Yes, I have heard that the film is amazing. Everyone I have spoken to that has seen it has been very happy with it. I look forward to seeing the whole thing. The parts that I have seen look great.
Schneider: Again, we’ll have to see how a wide audience responds, but early feedback from those who have seen it is positive. So far, they have been moved by the intimacy of the story, the exploration of family ties, and the limits of love.
What do you think the response will be from mainstream audiences when they see the movie? And what about LGBT audiences?
Salloum: I think this film will really have a strong impact on the mainstream audience. This story will really open up a lot of eyes to people who may have a hard time accepting a loved one or people who are having a hard time accepting themselves. This film will surely prompt discussion, which I feel is something that great films do. I also feel the LGBT audience will be very proud of this film, as I’m sure a lot of them can relate to this story in some capacity.
Schneider: I hope that mainstream audiences will see that everyone has their struggles. Jordan, who plays Ray, put it well when he said that as a society we label people. “That person’s a heterosexual, homosexual, transgender, this, that.” Jordan saw Ray as a person, a person who wanted love and the freedom to be who he wanted. He couldn’t do that because his environment viewed his preference as a sin. I’m hoping audiences will see that denying people of who they are only leads to self-hate.
I think this film will resonate with LGBT audiences; not only will at least some of them have similar experiences, or know people who have had similar experiences, I think the film will illustrate that Ray’s family had their own struggles. It wasn’t right for them to deny Ray of who he was, but they were trapped by their upbringing, surroundings, and fears as well. Prejudice corrupts both the oppressors and the oppressed. The oppressed feel the brunt of it, but it brings down everyone involved.
Watch the trailer below.