WATCH: “Test” Dances Through The Early Days Of San Francisco’s AIDS Crisis

Back in the early 1980s, AIDS was still a horrifying and mysterious killer spreading quickly through the gay community with no cure in sight. It’s against this backdrop that writer/director Chris Mason Johnson set his new romantic drama, Test, It’s the story of a Frankie (Scott Marlowe), a young gay dancer in 1980s San Francisco, who is both angered by the epidemic that has his city under siege and intrigued by his dance troupe’s resident bad boy (Matthew Risch).

Johnson, who previously helmed The New Twenty, elaborates in the film’s press statement:

“The early history of the epidemic is big and complicated, and there are untold stories that frame the subject in a different light and need to be heard… Test is one of these.

It’s a very personal movie with universal appeal: protagonist Frankie is a classic underdog who faces homophobic bullying at work and the newly named AIDS epidemic outside of it. His courage and resilience are tested.

He’s recently wrapped principal photography on Test, and is raising post-production funds through Kickstarter. (Johnson is about 15% of the way toward reaching his $35,000 goal by October 17.)

It’s worth noting Marlowe is a professional dancer in his own right (an artistic associate at San Francisco’s LEVYdance) and Risch just came off Broadway, where he played Trip in the acclaimed Other Desert Cities. And, behind the scenes, the film boasts a pedigree that includes queer-cinema legend Jenni Olsen as executive producer and grants from the San Francisco Film Society and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation.

This is a Test that deserves to pass.