Burning Blue, a romantic drama which tells the story of two Navy fighter pilots who fall in love while living under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, will be released select U.S. theaters and on VOD on June 6. The movie, co-written and directed by DMW Greer and based on his hit play with the same title, has taken nearly two decades to make it to the big screen. Queerty exclusively premieres the film’s poster (right).
Greer says the basis for the story came from his own life.
“In 1987, a classmate and fellow Navy Pilot was killed in an accident while piloting a routine jet training flight over the California desert,” Greer says in a statement about the film. “While I’d lost several friends in aviation accidents, ‘Matt’s’ death was different. While it did not fully occur to me until he was gone, I realized I’d been in love with him for many years. It was something understood and experienced together but never discussed.”
He continues, “It was a devastating loss, nearly overwhelming. Still as all military aviators are trained to do I worked to isolate and compartmentalize everything – putting the experience aside and carrying on.”
This relationship served as the inspiration for what would eventually become his play Burning Blue.
In 1995, the play opened at The King’s Head Theater in London before moving to the West End. It also enjoyed sold-out runs in South Africa and Isreal, before eventually coming to the U.S., where it was produced in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Off-Broadway at The Samuel Beckett Theatre in September 2002.
“Feature film inquiries came from Hollywood and we signed a deal with a London/Los Angeles production company,” Greer says. “After working on a Burning Blue screenplay for more than two years, it became clear that in the interest to make a more ‘commercially’ viable film, interest shifted to downplaying the romantic love story to spare audiences from the potentially uncomfortable subject matter. Fortunately, the option expired and that version of the film was never made.”
“The New York shoot lasted 21 very, very cold days in December 2010. It was a laughably ambitious schedule with a tight, talented, minimal crew and the ever-shrinking daylight hours as well as multiple locations,” Greer says. “Eventually, during editing we realized the inescapable need for several scenes we’d cut from the script for budgetary reasons. This demanded another round of fund-raising to schedule an additional four days of shooting in June 2013, plus editing.”
On June 6, nearly 20 years after the acclaimed stage version of Burning Blue first opened in London, the film will be released by Lionsgate.
“A filmmaker friend said to me before I started, ‘Making a film is like going to war. It’s one battle after another and it’s not over ‘til it’s over.’” Greer says. “He was right and for Burning Blue the metaphor is certainly apt. I’ve never enjoyed working so hard to embrace such an abundance of opportunity and ultimately overcome so many obstacles to complete a project.”
“I think I might do it again later this year,” he adds.
Check out the trailer below.