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A young boy's obsession with The First Wives Club – and the handyman

Alex and the Handyman – a film by Nicholas Colia

A young boy's obsession with The First Wives Club – and the handyman
Alex and the Handyman – a film by Nicholas Colia. Image courtesy of Peccadillo Pictures

In his latest short film, filmmaker Nicholas Colia gives us the story of Alex and the Handyman – a darkly comedic look at a young boy’s obsession with the family’s handyman.

We spoke with Colia for a behind-the-scenes look at the film:

What was your inspiration for this story?

I made this film as part of NYU’s Graduate Film School, where it’s become a bit of a trope to make short films about sad kids.

I thought it would be an interesting challenge to make a movie about a kid who was more proactive, not a victim.

Is Alex a character that you identify with at all?

I’ve never gone to the lengths he’s gone, but I’ve certainly had crushes in my life.

What was the production process like? 

As per the set-up of my film program, the script was written in the Summer and through the Fall. We then shot for four days in December 2016.

What was the casting process like?

Aaron Profumo [Jared the handyman] has been a friend of mine for a long time so that was easy. Hogan Gorman [Mom] was traditionally cast, and Silvio Canihuante [Carlos the landscaper] is actually a classmate of mine, a non-actor.

The hardest part was finding the kid. A professor of mine had just worked with Keaton and recommended him [Keaton Nigel Cooke plays the role of Alex]. The role was written as a bratty twelve-year-old but Keaton, who was then nine years old, was such a great actor that I ended up rewriting the whole script to his type.

Were you worried that audiences might interpret the film as somehow reinforcing negative stereotypes about gay boys?

I don’t think on those terms. I think about making a character who is dynamic and real. Rigid positive gay representation bores me.

Does the film have a point of view that Alex might have been able to better navigate his developing sexuality if his parents had been a bit more present?

It was definitely important to me that the house Alex lived in felt as big and empty as possible. That way, the arrival of the handyman makes the biggest impact.

What do you hope that audiences feel when watching this film?

Amused is good!

What has the response to the film been like so far?

It’s been great! The film won the first place at NYU’s Wasserman Awards, and the National Board of Review 2017 Student Grant. We’re all thrilled!

What next for Nicholas Colia?

I’ve recently finished editing my next movie, which is called Untitled Short Film About White People.

Alex and the Handyman is distributed by Peccadillo Pictures as part of its compilation Boys On Film 17: Love Is The Drug.

Read more from Gareth Johnson

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