Interview Questions and Answers

Posted on August 30 2010 by James

Here is a list of often asked media questions and our answers. Feel free to use these on your blogs and pages, or contact us for more detailed replies.


Why did you decide to make this film?


  • We wanted the film set in Greek islands to draw on my experiences and showcase their beauty and culture
  • Needed an interesting issue and remembered what happened on Tilos two years ago.
  • Greece is really dragging its feet on the whole issue of LGBT human rights so thought it was time to stir up the discussion


What have you discovered about Greek law & about Greek society whilst researching and shooting this film?


  • Eurobarometer 2008 found that 85% of Greeks were against same-sex marriage – staggeringly higher than most other EU countries.
  • This is almost certainly the strong influence of the Greek Orthodox Church
  • Greek marriage law is ambiguous although law officers currently claim its illegal, the matter is likely to be tested soon at the European Court (Tilos appeals)



How (if at all) does making this film relate to you personally?

  • I’m a gay man in my 40s – grown up in a country that has moved from homophobia to general acceptance in my lifetime – gone back in time in Greece although I personally have not experienced problems
  • I know lots of men forced by family and peer group pressure who have locked themselves into unhappy marriages that are lies – it shouldn’t happen any more.
  • They always say write about what you know – and two of the things I know best are life on a Greek island and the pressures gay men have to face in life 



What do you hope to show / what changes do you hope to create through Shocking the Donkeys?

  • The theme of Shocking the Donkeys is that true love, true happiness and being true to yourself are more important than superficial concerns like sexuality and keeping up appearances
  • This film speaks to anyone whose happiness and wellbeing is affected in some way between a clash of cultures – not just gay men but anyone, especially people forced (or forcing themselves) into sham marriages.
  • We hope the movie will help to shift Greek public opinion towards a more informed debate over the issue of LDBT human rights.



What is the movie about?

  • A typical Greek grandmother in her 70s who is suddenly shocked to discover her only grandson wants to marry another man and how she deals with that.
  • The grandson now lives in New York and wants to marry on the island where he lived until he was 16 – he is equally shocked to discover the controversy this causes as he has only ever lived a gay lifestyle in the socially liberal USA.
  • So the Shocking the Donkeys is about the clash of cultures between the modern attitudes towards homosexuality in the western world and the outdated values that you will still find firmly rooted in Greek society.



Is it a gay romantic comedy?

  • It’s a romantic comedy, in which the issue is a marriage between two men, but it speaks to anyone whose life is affected by a clash of cultural values.
  • It’s a comedy, but with a serious theme. Sometimes serious issues are best explored with a light touch because many people still make a big deal of sexuality as if it was terribly important. It’s not. And a good way of exploring this issue is through satire and comedy.
  • So although there is a serious message you can expect a lot of fun and humour using the kind of situations you could only find on a Greek island – goats, donkeys, ferries, baby rolling, Greek bureaucracy – that sort of thing.



When will it be released?

  • 2012. We hope to shoot is next year on one of the islands in the Dodecanese – possibly Symi, but not necessarily.
  • The plot is fully worked out and I’m now busy writing the screenplay which should be finished in March.
  • The producers, a consortium of British film companies, are already working on the pre-production and securing the money. People can keep in touch with our progress on our log where I share the whole process of writing and producing the film from start to finish. 



What’s it going to cost?

  • About 500 thousand dollars which makes it a mid-budget film. It’s more expensive to film on location in Greece because there are no incentives or tax breaks like you get in, say, Malta or South Africa.
  • Most of the money will come from US and European backers – sadly no Greek was brave enough to get involved in a film with a same-sex marriage focus.
  • Financial experts tell us that the subject of this film, especially since same sex-marriage now tops the social agenda of so many countries, makes it likely to be a big success – I certainly hope so but it puts a lot of pressure on me to get it right.


James, does your life on Symi inspire the film?

  • The film will be full of cultural and historical references to the Dodecanese islands
  • We want to avoid the mistakes of Mamma Mia! where the thousands of tourists who visited Skopelos were disappointed to find that much of the movie was filmed in sets and didn’t really exist.
  • If people visit the Greek islands having seen Shocking the Donkeys, we want them to find things exactly as they saw it in the movie – the buildings, the way of life, the culture, the traditions. We want them to have the full experience – except for the homophobia of course.

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