The Iron Wall is about the barriers we create to fulfill the roles we assume as men. Growing up we learn to never cry, to be self-reliant, always be number one, never appear feminine, don't be overly affectionate, etc... We’ve been taught to be a gender of silent emotions, but why? That’s the point of this film; to reconsider the culture of masculinity.
The first seed of The Iron Wall grew out of a conversation with a friend at some forgettable strip-mall bar in suburbia. We had been talking about a script in the works, and I mentioned this arbitrary idea involving homosexuality. I reasoned that it would have been interesting, but it wasn’t really my story. I also found that I was hesitant. I was afraid of people I knew seeing it and thinking it was my story. To that my friend said, well that’s interesting.
Why did I feel this way? So what if it were my story? I know so many people that identify with genders and orientations differently than I do, many of which are very dear to me. How could I possibly be truthful in accepting them as they are if I was not able to accept myself in the same way? That didn’t seem fair. These are the questions that inspired writing The Iron Wall.
I grew up in a small farm town in Connecticut where I cannot remember one person in high school who was openly gay. How can we expect people from a community like that to understand or empathize with those who have had such a different experience from their own?
It wasn’t until I moved to the city and met people that identified differently than I did that I was able to gain more of an understanding of their experience. It was through just getting to know people that I was able to grow.
Many can't just uproot themselves like that though, and herein lies the beauty of storytelling through film. We can give people a way to experience the lives of others that they would otherwise not have the opportunity to. In turn, that experience can inspire a change within us.
In New England's bada-bing culture of working class Italian Americans, an aspiring photographer working construction realizes he has to confront his community’s idea of what it means to be a man.
The Iron Wall is the story of Dave (23), a New Englander working construction for his Dad, Raymond. Try as he might, he doesn’t really fit in with his coworkers, but he was able to find solace in photography. Through the camera, he examines the world around him and tries to find a place he belongs.
During the late drunken hours after a family party, Dave’s friend and coworker Sean (22) makes a move on him. Wary of damaging their friendship, Dave tries to turn him down, but by chance Raymond sees them. Now that his parents suspect he’s gay, Dave starts acting tough and macho to prove to everyone how much of a man he really is, which wildly backfires damaging his friendships and sense of self.
Now more than ever, Dave has to discover who he is and what he stands for.
C h a r a c t e r s
Writer / Director
Mike is a giant meatball that spends most of his time criticizing L.A. for it's lack of Italian food, and plans to fill the Pacific Ocean with pasta sauce.
Before this, Michael grew up in North Branford, CT, a farm town outside of New Haven. During undergrad, he studied architecture and fine art at Roger Williams University, focusing on photographic mono-prints inspired by Denny Moers and video art inspired by Murray McMillan.
Following this the focus shifted from experimental to narrative filmmaking, with the addition of commercial work under his company name, Cetra Media Studio. Two years later he decided to pursue narrative film making further and began studying under CalArt’s Film Directing MFA program, and continues to pursue an avenue of narrative film writing and directing.
Scott holds a Bachelor's degree from Columbia College Chicago in Film and Video, where he concentrated in Cinematography. After graduating, he continued to shoot short films while collaborating with Columbia's graduate students. This work led to his first feature film, Hunter, also shot in Chicago. Outside of being a cinematographer, Scott has professionally executed every position in the camera, grip and electric departments. Some highlights include camera operating for a variety of projects, gaffing indie films and gripping on network television shows.
Sinah Ober was born in Germany’s Black Forest to a carpenter and a tailor. Her films are about personal perspective and individual experience. She is interested in childhood, femininity, sexuality, history, and trauma. Sinah graduated from the University of Iowa in 2012 with a BA in Cinema. She recently graduated with her MFA in Film Directing from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Her films have screened at several venues including the Student Experimental Film Festival at SUNY, the International Academic Video Festival in São Paulo, and the International Kansk Video Festival in Russia, among others.
Actor / Sean
Bashir Naim is a movement artist and actor based primarily in Los Angeles. His family founded a dance and performance art community in The Berkshire Mountains. Naim has collaborated or performed with Wolfgang Tillmans, Rose McGowan, Peaches, Yoyo Ma, David Amram, CHRISTEEN, The Kronos Quartet, Sia, Devendra Banhart, Our Lady J, Sutan Amrull, Austin Young, Hari Nef, Millie Brown, Ryan Heffington, Zackary Drucker, Ellen von Unwerth, Zemmoa, Trvst, Ron Athey, Alberto Cortes, Boychild, Paula Nacif, Mecca Vazie Andrews, Sofia Moreno, Tara Subkoff, and more.
He can be seen opposite Anjelica Huston and Jeffrey Tambor on Amazon’s “Transparent," in Benjy Russell’s “Battlefield of Flowers," and the upcoming short film, “Raymond.” He has been featured in Bullet Magazine, Vice magazine - in print as well as on their docuseries with Ellen Page, “Gaycation." His solo performance work has been shown at the Hammer Museum, S & S Projects Chicago, the Tom of Finland House, Human Resources Gallery in LA, with Rhonda and Soho House International, Art Basel Miami, LAXART, 700b in Portland, and beyond.