Written and co-produced by Alscott Worrell, Risk, a film about a Black LGBTQ+ romance drama about two friends who are reuniting one year after their one-night stand, stars Worrell and filmmaker/co-producer Philip Johnson of Philaye Films. The film follows the two as they reminisce on old times and share some unspoken truths about the event that changed the course of their friendship forever.
How did Risk come about? The concept and title.
Johnson: Scotty reached out to me about acting in and helping produce the project in August of 2020, and we got into meetings right away. He told me that his short “Everything’s Fine” and the “Lowkey Happy” episode of Insecure where Issa and Lawrence reconnect and finally discuss their past had inspired him to write Risk, and I couldn’t wait to dive in.
Can you share a time you took a risk and the outcome wasn’t what you thought it would be?
Johnson: Taking the risk of moving to LA with no job secured in 2019. I thought that I would immediately find a way to be working in film/TV full-time, but I quickly realized I needed to continue working in finance when I first got here in order to fund my productions and life. I became so frustrated trying to balance the finance full-time work and creative entrepreneurship that I felt myself reaching burnout and wondering if the risk was even really going to pay off or if I was just a dreamer. I am grateful to, two years later, be working full-time in film/TV and to have finally felt the risk pay off.
Worrell: Too many to count (laughs). Quitting my career in education to pursue film full-time would be one. When I first quit, it was a huge adjustment and not at all like I expected it to be. Initially, there was a sigh of relief and I felt a lot of anxiety melt away, but I still felt lost. Trying to figure out how I was going to thrive in a career field I knew so little about and had no formal experience in was something I didn’t expect to take such a toll on my mental health.
What I learned is that even though it didn’t turn out the way I expected, it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a
good decision. Ultimately, it set me up for the life I want to live. It also helped me get better about balancing my expectations with reality. It’s been a little over a year since I’ve been doing this full time and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Did you pull any personal experiences for the film? Did you put some of yourself into Quentin and Trevor?
Worrell: Yes. Definitely. Both characters have a bit of me in them. This story isn’t a true story, but the essence of the story is something that I’ve been through and a lot of queer men can identify with because the pool in which we date is the same pool in which we have to find friends and sometimes the lines get blurred.
Johnson: I put a good amount of myself into acting as Quentin. Like Quentin, I can be unsure of what decisions I want to make in my own love life, so my friendly personality can then put me at difficult crossroads at times. He was a fun role for me to play.
If you were in this situation as your character, would you have handled it the same way?
Worrell: Younger me would probably handle things like Quentin but at this point in life, I would handle things like Trevor. He’s at a place where he’s not afraid to go after the things he wants and Quentin isn’t always so sure.
What was it like filming during a pandemic? What challenges did you overcome?
Johnson: Honestly, it was a relief to finally be out of the house filming something again. The 2020 lockdown had me really missing being on set making beautiful art, so I felt blessed to get to be a part of such a great project in the final months of 2020. My biggest challenge was my fear of getting COVID-19 on set, but we just took precautions and tried not to think about that. And none of us got COVID-19.
What about this project stuck out to you?
Worrell: The story and the characters. It’s such a relatable story and the characters feel authentic in their actions. I hate watching a show or movie where the character makes a decision and it seems out of character. These characters seem to make decisions that are rooted in their character. Maybe this is a spoiler, but in the restaurant scene, Quentin orders a cheese pizza and cites it being a safe choice as the reason that he orders it. That small moment says so much about him and his decisions. He’s often a person who makes safe choices rarely coloring outside of the lines even if he desires to.
What do you hope people get out of this film?
Johnson: I hope that people feel inspired to live each day boldly as if there is no tomorrow. Sometimes taking that “Risk” means speaking your vulnerable truth or making that daring action, but sometimes it means doing nothing at all and trusting God/the universe to always provide what you need. Either way, big risks are required for big rewards, and I hope viewers walk away ready to take their next big risks of their own.